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The emergence of AI in retail

  • Opinion
  • January 29, 2019
  • Antony Ede
 The emergence of AI in retail

Technology is uprooting every industry, including retail.

There is no better evidence of technology’s impact than the fact that seven of the ten most valuable companies in the world are technology-based. If we compare this to 2008 when there was only one technology company in the top ten, it becomes clear that value in business is shifting emphasis.

What’s more, these same technology companies today are investing heavily in AI. Alibaba alone plans to spend $15 billion dollars over the next three years. This is more than double our entire country’s R&D investment annually across everything, not just in AI. Damn.

Here in New Zealand we have to be realistic. Kiwi businesses can’t possibly compete with the investment these global tech giants are putting forward, but that shouldn’t rule us out of the game. In fact, it means we need to work harder to adapt in order to compete as we’re already seeing AI have a huge impact on the retail industry globally. 

There is a silver lining to all this AI investment for retailers however, it has already yielded some advances that can be taken advantage of. There are some key areas where AI is already adding value for retailers both here in New Zealand and globally.

Computer vision

Computer vision is the technology equivalent to the part of the human brain that processes the information our eyes see and there have been big jumps recently in the accuracy and complexity of this field. Computer vision has applications for security, merchandising and customer service as it reads reactions of customers and identifies repeat or frustrated customers. This technology is also revolutionising the physical store concept, with Amazon Go utilising computer vision to provide a cashierless environment that allows customers to shop and leave without disruption.

Logistics

AI has considerable benefits for retail in the accuracy and ease of management of stock and supply chains, as well as last-mile delivery via drones, robots and autonomous vehicles. Food delivery service DoorDash has been trialling self-driving delivery robots that are capable of carrying items in a 3-mile radius within 3 to 30 minutes. And as goods delivery is revolutionised, the way retailers plan their network of stores changes. Access to more sophisticated data enables retailers to test possible store catchment areas and cannibalisation of existing locations. 

Pricing

AI is enabling retailers to be smarter about their pricing and promotions by analysing not only the retailer’s data but also competitor prices, consumer behaviour and peak shopping periods. Granify uses AI to analyse the actions a customer takes such as scroll speed, products viewed, mouse movements and hesitations to identify when they are about to leave a site and convert this to a sale with a tailored promotional message.

The businesses who look to continuously innovate and challenge the status quo like this will be well-positioned to ride the wave of tech advancement. So how can you get started?

The key for retailers taking advantage of this recent wave of AI investment is to start small and start now.  It doesn’t need huge investment to build an application from scratch, experimenting with solving a single customer problem is a good start. But the key is to start now before New Zealand gets left behind.

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Thankyou’s latest campaign combines scent and charity work

  • News
  • May 21, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Thankyou’s latest campaign combines scent and charity work

Australian charity product organisation Thankyou has launched its latest Kiwi campaign, combining that fact that 100 percent of its profit goes towards helping end global poverty with its use of perfume-grade botanical oils in its products.

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From edible insects to beautiful homeware: Made of Tomorrow’s co-founder talks its new venture

  • Design
  • May 21, 2019
  • Idealog
From edible insects to beautiful homeware: Made of Tomorrow’s co-founder talks its new venture

Most people would be in agreement that bugs, planters and room dividers don’t have much in common, but Matt Genefaas and Dan Craig would beg to differ. The two juggle running an edible insect company, Crawlers, as well as a homeware company, Made of Tomorrow. Genefaas has a chat about what the new furniture range, Space Between, was inspired by, as well as how him and Craig spend their days in slashie roles moving between pushing dried insects to the world, as well as polished mirrors and space dividers.

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Why is the next generation so anxious? Here's how young founders can avoid burn-out

  • Opinion
  • May 21, 2019
  • Jennifer Young
Why is the next generation so anxious? Here's how young founders can avoid burn-out

There may be good reason to be concerned about our young entrepreneurs. Millennials and Generation Z have been labelled generation burn-out, generation snowflake and described as narcissistic, entitled, tech-dependent and fragile. They’re also oversaturated with headlines about the raft of issues like climate change they have to tackle, plus concerns about the impact of technology and social media on their mental health. Jennifer Young explores possible reasons why the younger generation is so anxious, as well as what young founders can do to avoid burn-out.

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Vodafone NZ sold to private investors for $3.4b

  • News
  • May 21, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Vodafone NZ sold to private investors for $3.4b

Infrastructure investor Infratil is teaming up with a Canadian investment firm to buy the local operations of Vodafone for $3.4 billion.

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  • Property
  • May 16, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
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The company that owns Courtenay Central in Wellington says it has big plans for redeveloping the complex - which is closed due to earthquake risks.

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  • Opinion
  • May 16, 2019
  • David Farrell
How to tell if you're a born retailer

Retail is a profession, but true retailers are born not made, says Dave Farrell.

Read more
 
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