Kagan: How AI growth wave will transform retail
Photo by iStock.com
Artificial Intelligence is the giant leap of our generation. It will transform the retail customer experience in the next few years. You must either be a leader or a follower, but you must be a player. Competitors who don't embrace this new technology will suffer the consequences, lose market share and even fail just like we have seen other retailers do over the years who didn't or couldn't make the leap.
Growth waves always move forward and always transform. It has changed and will continue to change the retail industry, again and again over time. You remember Blockbuster video and Borders bookstore. Think back, you remember the old grocery stores we all used to shop at, which no longer exist. You remember the favorite old hardware stores on every corner. Even technology stores like Radio Shack, Circuit City and more… all gone.
Retailers must embrace AI growth wave or get left behind
The bottom line is simple. Either companies embrace the next change wave that is transforming their sector, or that same wave will pass them by leaving them behind to ultimately fail. All competitors who embrace this new wave will learn new ways to do business and continue to grow. That's why companies who have been around for a while, continue to look different. They continue to grow and to change.
That is the fact every business needs to focus on. Stay with the growth wave. If not, that transformation wave will pass them by.
Every retail type needs to transform to AI
Whether customers visit a retail store, call an 800-number or shop online, there are many ways companies can integrate AI into the shopping experience. In fact, companies are starting to use social networks as new sales channels. There are so many examples of companies already jumping into this new area.
Some companies are starting to use AI technology on Facebook to interact with their customers. This technology can sometimes replace the sales staff for many companies or areas where there is a limited choice and the items being sold are not complicated. Think Domino's pizza which makes suggestions based on your past orders, or 1-800-Flowers.com which suggests arrangements.
Tech like IBM Watson helps retail stores use AI to transform
IBM Watson is a strong AI player and is starting to work with companies, large and small. Watson is thought to be for big and complicated matters like surgeries, medical and legal issues where there is a mountain of data to absorb on a regular basis. However, it can also jump in and help simple retailers use AI and continue to grow and remain competitive.
The incredible amounts of data we've been collecting over the last few decades, has become giant mountains of grain. We need AI just to sort through it all.
There are a growing number of other sources for this kind of AI technology as well. Think Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn and so much more. Technologies like AI, Internet of Things or IoT, the cloud, VR and a growing number of others.
Today Is the time for retail to start in AI
This is all brand new and we are at the very early stages of changing the way we will be doing business going forward. Now is the time to get started. Now is the time to make mistakes. To learn what works for you, what doesn't and why.
Today, customers are not yet holding company's feet to the fire. Today, is like the 1990's with the Internet. We knew it was going to transform everything, we just didn't know how. We had time to explore and learn before the customer expectations grew.
Same today with AI. Experiment. Learn what works, what doesn't and why. Explore different ways it works best with your business. Today is the perfect time. Before the customer understands and expects perfection.
We are just in the very early days of this new AI revolution. Don't waste this valuable grace period. Remember, you can lead or you can follow, but you can't sit out this AI transformative event. It's time to get moving.
Jeff KAGAN Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, speaker, author and consultant. Over 30 years he has followed the Customer Experience through technology like wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, AI, Mobile Pay, FinTech and more. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. www