With retailers struggling to navigate an era of uncertainty, Salman Ahmad, CTO of Rezolve, sets out how the latest wave of technology can help businesses build resilience.
In an era of permacrisis, the only thing anyone can be certain of is uncertainty. Amidst inflation, supply chain shocks and a cost of living crisis retailers are struggling to remain competitive. The battle for market share, coupled with economic uncertainties, has pushed many to the brink, with retailers like Wilko finally going bust in recent months. Those that survive are seeking innovative solutions that can provide them with an edge over the competition.
In this relentless pursuit of resilience, artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI, is emerging as a transformative force, fundamentally reshaping how businesses operate across a spectrum of industries, notably technology and commerce.
Generative AI may be a relatively new phenomenon but it is already playing a pivotal role in augmenting existing processes, scaling operations, empowering workforces, and creating the agility required to navigate complex economic waters.
The importance of brick-and-mortar stores is waning and consumer behaviour is shifting. Retailers face myriad challenges, including labour shortages, escalating rent costs, and supply chain strains. Fortunately, AI emerges as a timely solution to address many of these obstacles.
Meeting customer demands in the digital era
The shopping world has changed forever and customers are increasingly seeking brand interactions through digital channels rather than in store. Since the rise of generative AI, they can expect innovative solutions like virtual assistants to make these interactions more convenient and effortless than ever. AI-powered data analytics empower businesses to extract invaluable insights from vast data troves and personalise customer experiences like never before. Analysis of this data offers decision-makers the tools they need to make well-informed choices, for example around optimal price, enhancing profitability and competitiveness, all while developing customer loyalty.
According to one survey, 76% of consumers expect companies to possess a deep understanding of their needs. However, only 49% believe that retailers currently meet these expectations. AI offers a way to bridge this gap. Through the analysis of customer data, AI can uncover preferences, purchasing patterns, and early signs of churn. Armed with this knowledge, retailers can tailor their strategies to retain existing customers and attract new ones. This, in turn, will drive sales, prevent revenue leakage, and fuel growth, even amidst economic uncertainty.
AI is set to mark the start of a new era of retail engagement and data analysis, solidifying Britain’s standing in the global AI arena. By harnessing cutting-edge AI models, businesses can morph their online e-commerce platforms into conversational, efficient shopping experiences. These AI-driven systems function as astute sales assistants, armed with comprehensive product knowledge and unparalleled insights.
Artificial intelligence means more intelligent personalisation
Employing sophisticated algorithms, advanced machine learning, and natural language processing, AI promises to elevate both customer experiences and human worker productivity. Now, when a customer utilises AI to search for a product, they receive more than a list of search results, they receive detailed recommendations. For instance, if someone is in search for a new bag, they can interact with an AI shopping assistant, providing specific usage requirements and desired features.
The AI platform then tailors personalised suggestions to the customer. Additionally, customers can compare products and request detailed information at their convenience, facilitating informed decision-making and bolstering sales. Historically e-commerce websites have only displayed a limited amount of information on each product because they don’t want to overwhelm a consumer. When a consumer can ask questions to their AI assistant directly, a larger bank of information can be utilised.
AI also brings unprecedented capability in customer sentiment research. AI algorithms are able to quickly identify dissatisfied clients by analysing consumer feedback, reviews, and social media posts. The retailer can then provide them with unique savings or special offers to boost their satisfaction and keep them on platform.
With AI, companies will also be better equipped to mirror the diverse and multi-cultural world in which they operate. In the past, businesses have often grappled with the challenge of serving a diverse customer base. Many have been unable to cater to a range of unique language preferences and cultural nuances. However, for the first time artificial intelligence facilitates multilingual customer experiences that transcend language barriers. Many customers simply don’t speak English, and where before they were faced with poor communication from human reps or shoddy translations from chatbots, now retailers can use cutting-edge AI shopping assistants with advanced MLP and NLP to communicate in any major language.
Harmonising AI and human interaction
Despite the surge in digitalisation and the heightened demand for AI-powered solutions, maintaining a human touch in business processes remains essential. Rather than replacing humans, AI complements the skills of highly trained workers, enhancing productivity and efficiency. In fact, generative AI’s impact on human productivity has the potential to add trillions of dollars to the global economy. Recent research estimates a potential added value of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion (€2.44 trillion to €4.14 trillion).
So, even as retailers and other businesses wrestle with unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, they can also draw upon unprecedented technological advances. By leveraging AI’s analytical capabilities for personalisation, not to mention its multilingual powers of communication, organisations can safeguard revenues, improve operational efficiency, and drive growth. As AI continues to evolve, businesses that prioritise its integration will be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities thrown up in decades to come.
The author is Salman Ahmad, CTO of Rezolve.
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