Festive seasons are the most exciting times for consumers. But for businesses, it's more like working after office hours! While consumers rush to shop for lucrative discounts, brands are under pressure to ensure seamless operations, be it purchase mechanisms, smartphone applications, or just product listing on the websites. Because a single flaw in the overall shopping journey can take customers away from the brand and closer to its counterparts. As a result, providing a smooth customer experience is essential during these high business hours to maintain customer loyalty and earn prospects.
COVID-19 has been a massive blow to businesses that resulted in enormous losses. Many small businesses had to shut down their operations while employees lost their jobs or experienced salary reductions. However, one thing was clear – the pandemic pushed enterprises to reshape their existing working models and adopt digital technologies to ensure seamlessness and continuity. As part of this accelerated tech adoption, artificial intelligence (AI) emerged as a game-changer for retailers, helping them serve customers uniquely.
An interesting example would be Cadbury's Diwali ad featuring Shahrukh khan, which came equipped with a hyper-personalized message to support small businesses and store vendors. The ad had SRK's digital avatar taking the names of local stores across fashion, footwear, electronics, and grocery – urging viewers to shop from the small businesses and stores around them. Leveraging AI, the brand recreated SRK's voice and face to take the 'ad's local store's terms. The avatar was cloned five times, each for one category in sync with the pin code of the viewer, showing them only the nearby stores.
Against this backdrop, here's how AI can help retailers enhance operations and boost sales during festive seasons:
Accurate Demand Forecasting - The demand for various products increases owing to the rapidly changing customer choices during festivals. Predicting this demand naturally becomes a challenge for retailers and FMCG brands. However, with AI, they can extract relevant data using various parameters, including past consumption patterns, current trends, etc. This data can be used to assess demand for multiple products and accordingly stock all items in advance to cater to the needs of consumers in the upcoming festival. According to a study by Gartner, 45 percent of companies are existing users of AI-powered demand forecasting, while 43 percent are likely to become users in the next few years.
Efficient Warehouse Management - During the peak festivities, it is equally essential for retailers to gauge the additional storage space required for stocking items to meet the high demands of consumers. This is where AI-driven location trackers come into the picture. Warehouse managers can leverage these devices to chart out floor-by-floor 3D maps of factories and quickly identify where to accommodate the new consignments, thereby ensuring effective inventory management and preventing stock-out or surplus stock. This solution also helps managers classify the inventory items based on priority and popularity, thus anticipating optimum inventory levels and better business outcomes during this period. Revolutionizing this space, a few companies have even deployed robots for in-store customer assistance and notifying the management about products going out of stock or approaching expiration dates.
Seamless Route Management - Consumers usually have high expectations from brands during festive months, especially in terms of faster delivery. And now that omnichannel is being adopted by most retailers; consumers expect even more convenience when it comes to the delivery of products. Logistics companies can flawlessly determine traffic movements with location intelligence solutions and identify the best route for last-mile delivery. These solutions also enable them to explore and bank on hidden location points, which can be the best or fastest possible route for the representative to deliver products on or before time. Many startups also launched route optimization solutions to make logistics safer during the pandemic by allowing representatives to identify red-alert zones and provide alternate routes.
Given the stark spike in shopping volumes during festive seasons, retailers must invest in AI-powered tools and devices to make sales and operations more seamless than ever, and most importantly, enhance the user experience to have no second thoughts of trying other alternative brands. With ever-evolving consumer needs and demands, retailers need to become AI-savvy to capitalize on the advancements' newfound gifts and keep customers happy and satisfied forever.