How AI Can Modernize the Black Friday Experience During Retail’s Peak Season
Today, the retail experience is much more complex than it’s ever been before, and often long checkout lines, low inventory, and overpriced items can drive consumers away from making a purchase. As we quickly approach the largest retail moment of the year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s important for retailers to provide a targeted shopping experience that checks off all the boxes on their customers’ wish lists.
The desire for better customer personalization in retail results from today’s shopper fatigue as brands oversaturate customers’ inboxes prior to the holidays with irrelevant advertisements. These poorly targeted marketing messages have pushed shoppers away from certain stores and led them into the hands of competitors that have the technical capabilities to understand their needs.
The root of the issue is that customers want to feel unique and need reassurance that they aren’t just an unidentified blip in the system. Today, they expect their frequently visited shops and stores to know them by name, pay close attention to their wants and needs, and predict what types of items they’d like in the future. When retailers begin to map out their Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategy, understanding their customer preferences is absolutely essential for a number of initiatives.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to pick up insights from every stage of the buying journey to understand what drives shoppers to make a purchase, and what might cause them to abandon their cart or look elsewhere for a product. These insights can then factor into a number of different retail decisions, from purchasing to pricing and product mix.
As a result, we’ll see AI wear many hats in providing an enhanced customer experience. With this in mind, below are a few ways we’ll see AI leveraged by brick-and-mortar retailers during this season’s shopping frenzy:
- Online chatbots, machine learning (NLP) and analytics will better track the customer voice. AI can determine what customers are saying about online or in-store experiences and can let retailers know the areas they need to improve on. Through capabilities like sentiment and tone detection, retailers will be able to grasp the true nature of their customers’ feelings on their products, and why they are or aren’t desirable to them.
- AI will shape personalized recommendations, offering targeted deals and promotions. The challenges of pinpointing which promotions customers want, when they want them most, and through which channel they hope to receive them are some of the largest obstacles retailers face. AI and predictive analytics can understand the demand of certain shopping cart items and provide a recommendation on what deals should be offered to customers.
- By applying AI, local and global inventory will become more efficiently managed, allowing for better capabilities in tracking shelf levels and comparing quantities against predicted demand. AI will help retailers pull data from a broad range of sources to predict demand on both a global and local level, as well as manage their inventory in each location more effectively. This will create an AI-powered inventory system across brick-and-mortar stores, allowing retail associates to restock items with greater precision and provide a better shopping experience for customers.
Ultimately, the challenges of pinpointing which offers customers want, when they want them most, and through which channel they hope to receive them are some of the biggest issues retailers face. That said, it’s also the biggest opportunity in front of them, and one that's now addressable by applying intelligent technology to improve personalization, service and, ultimately, customer loyalty and spending during this year’s holiday season.
Zachary Jarvinen is the head of technology strategy of AI and analytics at OpenText, an enterprise information management solutions provider.
Related story: Leveraging AI This Holiday Season
Zachary Jarvinen is the Head of Technology Strategy of AI and Analytics at OpenText, an enterprise information management solutions provider.
Prior to OpenText, Zachary ran product marketing at a data analytics startup that reached #87 on the Inc 5000 and was a part of the Obama Presidential Campaign Digital Team in 2008. Zachary holds an MBA/MSc from The Anderson School of Management from the University of California, Los Angeles and the London School of Economics and Political Science.