Much awaited AI update is here!

Picture this! You just walk into a store, pick your stuff, have the amount debited for payment, and walk out calmly. No long queue for payment, no salespersons hogging you with latest offers, no carrying debit or credit cards, only a peaceful shopping experience.

Yes, this is reality in India and it is quite the future of retail here. The country’s first fully AI-powered retail store has just opened in Kochi.

AI update

Watasale, a fully-automated retail store in Kochi, has everyone talking about it. Drawing inspiration from Amazon Go in the US, this store is cashier-free wherein you can simply shop for your desired items and the amount gets debited from your e-wallet.

As a customer, you need to download the Watasale app on your mobile and register with your email id and phone number. You will be provided with a QR code which you need to scan while entering the store. The app debits the bill amount automatically from your wallet.

Watasale is works on latest AI update, camera technology, and has hi-tech sensors on each rack. These sensors can detect what items you pick up and what you put back on the shelf. Exceptional data enables it to give complete information on the store’s inventory to the customer beforehand.

Retail store backed by Artificial Intelligence is an established concept in the west and China. A Chinese startup BingoBox, launched cashier-free stores two years back and today it has more than 300 shops spread over 30 cities in China.

Why is AI and Automation required in Retail?

The main idea behind incorporating AI update and ML in retail is to standardize the processes and have a more dependency on machines to execute repetitive jobs and utilize the existing workforce for more specialized jobs. Another major reason behind leveraging Ai update in retail is to offer a hassle-free shopping experience to the customer.

A survey conducted on over 1200 retailers revealed that 53% of Indian retail companies are ready to embrace Artificial Intelligence & bring Automation in by 2020. Not just Artificial Intelligence, in fact an entire bunch of dispruptive technologies such as Blockchain, Chatbots, and Machine Learning, will become strategic to retail stores for better operations and customer management.

Upcoming trends in Retail in India

Based on the growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence in retail, the upcoming trends are:

(1) Retail store will adopt store visitor analytics which would detect the footfall trend, visitor demographics, visitor profiling, visitor preferences etc. to help brands improve their store performance. Better implementation of analytics can lead to faster conversions.

(2) This is an era of personalisation. Customers like to be approached with personalised campaigns. Machine Learning algorithms can help in personalised campaigns through sms, emails or push notifications. When a customer buys a product or responds to a particular campaign, Machine Learning can help to track the behavioral pattern and design campaigns in accordance with their tastes or timing of response.

(3) Robots are all set to replace salespersons in retail stores. In a move to lure the shoppers from e-commerce portals back to brick and mortar stores, many retailers are launching smart shops. Customer-friendly robots, shelves with embedded sensors and interactive mirrors are the new reality. Leading retailers, like Shopper’s Stop, Reliance Retail and Aditya Birla retail are also slowly warming up to with cutting-edge technologies like AI, robotics and cognitive technologies.

(4) Not just with customer facing roles or store management, automation has made its presence felt in Inventory Management too. Retail stores use AI update and Data Security mechanisms to optimise supply chain operations and logistics. Data security also helps in accurate inventory management. As a report by Cognizant, Blockchain could improve supply chain visibility, which would enhance sales forecasting and inventory control.

(5) To improve customer experience, retailers are increasingly using disruptive technologies like sensor fusion, camera technology, cognitive computing and deep learning.  These technologies will help in product placement in the retail stores. Products with higher propensity of sales are placed closer to customers, allowing them to select, procure, and pay in a hassle-free way in the least possible time.

This is the onset of a new era in Indian Retail

Indian retail is poised for a big change. Juniper Research has predicted that retailers are going to spend $2.5 billion on connected devices by 2020 globally, and Indian retailers are integrating high-end technologies to enable this. Not just e-commerce, but top retailers are looking to adopt digital technologies in their physical environment as well.

With these disruptive technologies, a seamless customer experience and smooth back-end functioning can be achieved together. The transition from existing mode of operations to digitally-backed processes is not going to be easy. But a consistent effort from leading retailers can set the ball rolling and place Indian retail on the global platform for the right reasons.