Global retailers are not unfamiliar with the concept of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Amazon has been using machine-learning algorithms to recommend products for years, and US companies including Kohl’s and Walmart are investing heavily in predicting what their shoppers want. Last year Macy’s announced they were testing a mobile tool using AI from IBM Watson that lets shoppers get answers customized to the store they’re in.

AI Business has seen the convergence of AI with traditional customer service, which is on track to completely change the shopping experience, based on a new study.

Almost half (45%) of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence for customer service within three years, according to the BRP 2017 Customer Experience, Unified Commerce Benchmark survey of 500 executives at retailers in North America, with a focus on specialty retail.

Virtual reality is not far behind, with more than a third (34%) of retailers planning to implement it within the next three years, and augmented reality is right behind that, at 33%.

Already, 14% of retailers say they have implemented both AI (digital assistants, chatbots, etc.) and augmented reality and 8% have implemented virtual reality.

The top priority for most retailers is in optimizing the customer experience. Here are the top customer experience priorities, according to BRP:

  • 55% — Optimize the customer experience
  • 50% — Increase customer loyalty
  • 45% — Improve mobile shopping experience
  • 42% — Create a seamless experience across channels
  • 32% — Enhance personalized service, sales assistance
  • 24% — Provide personalized promotions, recommendations and offerings

As customers become more familiar with Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s Siri, they likely will become more open to chatbots replacing traditional customer service, which BRP suggests may lead to human interaction being perceived as less efficient than artificial intelligence at retail.

Virtual closets also seem to be on the rise, with almost a third (31%) or retailers planning to implement them within three years, with 8% already there.

With all the sensor technology and tracking capabilities available today, only 5% of retailers have a product locator app implemented that they say is working well. Another 18% have one implemented, but say it needs work. The good news is that within three years, the majority (68%) of retailers expect to have implemented product locating capabilities for shoppers.

Another tidbit from the study: while 38% of retailers are using beacons to identify their customers via smartphones, 62% have no plans to implement them in the future. A large number (41%) also have no plans to use Wi-Fi to identify customers.

Article republished from: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/302864/45-of-retailers-plan-to-add-ai-to-enhance-custome.html

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