The trend: More retailers are investing in automation and artificial intelligence to streamline operations and reduce costs.
Three prominent uses include:
Managing the labor crunch: Amid a continuously tight labor market with nearly twice as many job openings as available workers, restaurants are struggling to get by with fewer staff than they would prefer. That’s led many to embrace automation wherever they can.
Fulfillment optimization: While ecommerce has become a necessity for most retailers, ecommerce fulfillment is an expense, resource-intensive, process that can be difficult to get right. AI has proven to be a valuable tool for companies looking to optimize fulfillment and become more responsive to fluctuations in customer demand.
Personalizing the customer journey: By using AI to offer an experience personalized to consumers’ habits and product preferences, retailers can convert more customers and maximize lifetime value.
The big takeaway: Implementing AI and automation can be complicated, especially across large organizations with many moving parts. At the same time, these technologies help retailers deal with issues ranging from rising fulfillment and labor costs to inventory buildups caused by rapid changes in consumer demand.
While large-scale transformations like Levi’s BOOST engine may be an impossibility for many retailers, moves like Dick’s Sporting Goods’ personalization initiative or Panera’s AI-powered drive-thrus can have just as big an impact on bottom lines. As eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence Patty Soltis noted, these moves allow companies to learn “what inspires behavior, which is more valuable than a survey or other forms of feedback.”
Go further: Check out our forecast on robotic and autonomous systems.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Retail & Ecommerce Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the retail industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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