The retail industry is perhaps the first and most important industry where Conversational AI has shown its prowess best, and it’s only solidifying its grip.
Conversational AI is perhaps most ubiquitous in the retail industry, more than anywhere else. Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress have fundamentally changed the way we view shopping. Artificial Intelligence has been a catalyst behind this change.
Top 5 uses of Conversational AI in Retail
Chatbots are perhaps the best example of Conversational AI in retail.
Chatbots generated by Artificial Intelligence, assist customers with a more streamlined shopping experience. This is not something that can be done effortlessly by customer care personnel 24/7 with accuracy. Chatbots can answer any questions regarding inventory supplies, product recommendations, prices, offer durations, etc., in real-time with reliable accuracy. With the help of Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI-generated chatbots can understand and analyze the intent, context, and query of the customers, regardless of how it is phrased, and respond accordingly. Due to Machine Learning (ML), Conversational AI can give more and more refined answers with each passing interaction, without any form of human intervention
Virtual Shopping assistants are driven by Conversational AI
Virtual Shopping assistants are particularly helpful for customers who want to explore online services. A notable problem with online retail shops is that customers don’t know how the products look or feel in real life, which prompts people to mostly buy from offline avenues. Having a conversational AI help people, by giving verbal clarifications and advice as people shop, can be encouraging and make the online experience more comfortable as well.
Employee Onboarding is made easier
Conversational AI can help with employee onboarding procedures as well. This is particularly useful to make sure that new employees are getting all the precise information about their job and don’t have to rely on existing employees or management for help. This helps reduce the workload on retail management and can speed up the process.
Self-checkout groceries are the future
Self-checkout groceries heavily utilize Conversational AI to guide consumers through the shopping process. This system requires negligible human intervention and has proven to be a success among customers too. Due to their efficiency, soon Self-checkout groceries might become the norm.
AI makes management more efficient
In terms of management too, Conversational AI has a multitude of advantages. It can update inventory stocks in real-time, manage busy queues via contactless payment, keep records of fiscal expenditure and extract any errors that might be there while predicting future sources of error in the management procedure. Having these tasks done by people would be time-consuming and prone to mistakes.
Peter Voss, CEO of Aigo AI, elaborates on how AI can become more effective for customer support in retail, in this interview for AITJ.
The backlash against AI in Retail
Even though conversational AI has been by and large a success, it has been prone to a backlash in the retail industry. There have been fears that increasing automation and integration of AI-generated algorithms have been stealing jobs. There have indeed been cases of quite large spread layoffs in the retail industry, though the causation link between increasing automation and layoffs has not been proven yet. However, if this trend continues, the future of Conversational AI in this industry will be in jeopardy. Though many experts have suggested that few people nowadays want to do jobs in the retail industry (eg. cashiers), proven by the Great Resignation of 2021, where most employees quitting were from the retail sector due to low wages and bad working conditions.
If the retail industry can strike the right balance between automation and healthy employee culture, the industry will flourish more as nothing is better than the collaboration of content employees and Artificial Intelligence. This will result in better services for customers, better management, and more cost-effective solutions. Otherwise, the antagonism against AI, especially Conversational AI, will increase and can be a messy situation for everyone involved.
Maliha is interested in exploring the different ways exponential technologies impact individuals, societies, and beyond.