3 Ways Retail Intelligence Affects You

July 24, 2019 • Shannon Flynn


Artificial intelligence is making an appearance in nearly every industry. In healthcare, AI systems can sort through patient data faster than human workers, and can even assist with robotic surgery. AI is also beginning to make an appearance in the retail industry. Dubbed ‘retail intelligence’ this emerging technology could change the way you shop. How will retail intelligence affect you in the coming years?

1. AI Supply Chains and Return

While AI might never take over the customer service experience, if you return something to an online retailer in the next few years, you may end up dealing with an AI program. Experts estimate that using AI to manage supply chains and returns could save retail companies upwards of $340 billion a year by 2022.

Some may also adopt customer-facing AI programs like chatbots to assist with common customer questions, but for the most part, AI will likely operate behind the scenes. Some stores use AI technology to track goods as they move through the supply chain, increasing the chances they’ll arrive in excellent condition.

2. Retail Intelligence and the Cashierless Checkout

If you work in the retail industry, this next application of retail intelligence could put your job at risk. Amazon is working toward creating brick and mortar stores that are cashierless — instead of filling your cart and walking to the cash register, you simply scan the items you want with your phone and pay with whatever card you have linked to your Amazon account.

Amazon isn’t the only company that is using this sort of retail intelligence to move away from the need for cashiers. Walmart, for example, allows users to buy their groceries online. Then all they need to do is drive up and Walmart employees bring their order right out of their car.

As this technology continues to evolve, we’ll likely see more stores move away from the traditional retail model and embrace the cashierless alternative. It may be more convenient for consumers but it could be a negative for those who’ve found employment in the industry.

3. Transitioning to ECommerce

Ecommerce isn’t a new concept. You can buy nearly anything on Amazon, shop for groceries online at your local Wal-mart, and find gorgeous handmade items on Etsy. Many things that you wouldn’t normally think of as being available online are starting to transition to an ecommerce model.

Fitness, for example. Instead of heading to the gym, people are investing in on-demand fitness services, accessing everything from workout plans to one-on-one training from their phone or computer. On-demand fitness rose from 4.8% to 7.7% between 2014 and 2016 and the trend continues to climb.

It may not be long before most of the retail industry transitions to an ecommerce model. Some things won’t translate to online sales — like medical care — but you may be able to get nearly anything online, whether you can have it delivered or not.

The Future of Retail Intelligence

It’s hard to speculate where the future of retail intelligence will go. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart are already adopting this technology.

Smaller retailers may be a little slower to adopt retail intelligence than these gargantuan names, but one thing is clear — AI is slowly changing the retail industry, and those who don’t adopt these new trends will likely be left behind.