The retail business is getting back on track and has been witnessing steady growth after the dismal impact of the third wave. There has been buoyancy in the market with the removal of lockdown restrictions. After a long time of distress and uncertainty, things are getting back to normalcy as businesses have started taking pertinent steps to resume operations and focus on sales, marketing, and inventory management.
The realization of digital transformation coupled with the indispensable role of artificial intelligence (AI) has been one of the major outcomes of Covid-19 implications on the retail sector and the vast possibilities and opportunities it can create with such transformations.
With the emergence of e-commerce, buyers experienced the first crucial shift that successfully made it possible for them to buy things from anywhere at any time. Be it apparel, lifestyle, beauty, electronics, furniture, or be it entertainment, education, health, and fitness; easy availability of the internet and higher smartphone penetration to even remote corners of the country, led to the higher dependency on e-commerce platforms, thereby fuelling its growth.
This is what has caused the subsequent growth and flourishing of the retail sector in India, thus, enabling buying and selling ease like never before. Plus the innumerable discounts and offers handed out by the e-commerce platforms, attracted a larger customer base.
Online retail or e-retail has made a tremendous impact on commerce from traditional outlets to global auctions. The real revolution happened at the backend, where high-end AI systems transformed doing business and delivered seamlessly to customers worldwide.
How Does AI Work?
AI has revolutionized shopping as well as the administration of the business. It always begins with the supposition about what customers want from their buying experience. This is where AI comes into the picture with digital assistants that make use of data analytics that can give consumers a great shopping experience, via intelligent product and price recommendations.
AI makes personalized offers to customers based on whether they are the potential consumer of a product or not, by making use of their 'most searched' data, their purchase history, and the regular browsing patterns they have to enhance the retail sales. They also provide recommendations of new products and their benefits, reveal the price details, offer the best shipping options and offers, recommend the latest trends, suggest offers and discounts, etc. For example, if you have checked out a yoga mat on an e-commerce site, you may also start getting recommendations for fitness wear, exercise shoes, etc. which will compliment your yoga mat purchase.
Chatbots, are nothing but AI robots conversing, but in a highly personalized manner. Today digital assistants generally answer questions in a more logical manner, which helps in building a relationship with a consumer. The coming of AI thus, redefining retail.
Retail is presently going through inevitable challenges that no one could have predicted. Powered with technology that consumers not only want but wish for, virtual stores and e-shopping are already a crucial part of life now and will continue in the future. AI is at the epicenter of all these advancements and is leading to a new era in retail.
Therefore, consumers no longer have to wait for questions to be answered, or grievances to be addressed for really long. All of these problems have become a thing of the past, removing hurdles that often keep consumers from coming back to the same seller or platform. This is leading to a new renaissance both in-store and virtually, that is capable of delivering the complete shopping experience that consumers demand and the business that retailers seek.
The advantages of AI in the retail sector are countless. Some of the most common benefits include-
• Voice assistance, even in local and vernacular languages using Natural Language Processing (NLP) such as Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, etc.
• Optimization and automation of tasks
• Better demand forecasting due to customer analytics
• Helping in competitive pricing decisions
• Optimizing product placements
• Easy and quick digital payments, powered by UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money)
• Hyper-localised logistics,
• Data mining and analytics-driven customer engagement
• Digital marketing and advertisements
Advancements in digital literacy, rising urbanization, nuclear families, and changes in consumption patterns of the populace have caused a higher flow in investment in both the retail and e-retail sectors.
The advantages that AI has brought into the retail domain are manifold. It is indeed causing a more than appreciable impact currently and presents umpteen possibilities in the future as well for retail business in India. AI has brought in the empowerment to the sector-building business opportunities in India like the MSME, and leveraged the retail operations at large, to deliver the best of personalized shopping experiences to the consumers.