How AI and robotics are changing retail
The connection between artificial intelligence and robotics is quite similar to the connection which exists between our own brain and body.
The applications of a highly sophisticated robotic system with an AI neuro-link in the core manufacturing sector is tremendous to say the least. Now, does the same apply to retail as well? If so, how is it that AI and advanced robotics are useful in a retail setting? Let’s try and answer those questions next.
AI and robotics can work seamlessly together, but they are not mutually inclusive
One of the first points to clear up is that while AI and robotics often go seamlessly together now, they are certainly not mutually inclusive. A few key pointers as stated below should help in understanding why that is so:
· Robotics has huge promise, but it’s miniscule when compared to the potential of AI
· Artificial intelligence is already in use across all industries, including retail
· Robotics is still at a crude stage, with limited neural links, but it is growing fast
Autonomous vehicles: AI-powered robots as retail products?
Generally, we are so used to seeing humanoid robots in films, that the fact that Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles will be the best examples of intelligent robots available in retail seldom occurs to any of us.
Not only is that a fact, it’s also something that will hold the most importance in fields of robotics and artificial intelligence for many years to come. In the next 5 – 10 years, we are going to see self-driving cars hit retail stores and Level 1 – Level 3 autonomous features are already making their way into the present retail models.
To put the value of AI development, robotics and AI-automotive engineering in perspective, let’s consider the average yearly pay that professionals working in these fields receive on a yearly basis.
- Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence Engineer: $140,011
- Intelligence Specialist: $101,347
- Robotics Engineer: $81654
- Autonomous vehicle Engineer: $295,000
As you might have noticed, the average salary of an autonomous car engineer is more than double the average salary of a regular AI developer, which is in itself proof of the fact that no other field of robotics, AI or AI-powered robotics currently holds more importance than intelligent automotive.
On visiting the following link – https://online.kettering.edu/programs/masters/electrical-computer-engineering-masters-online, you will find that Kettering University has created a specialised MS Engineering-ECE-Advanced Mobility programme to bridge the existing gap between software engineering and automotive engineering.
It’s the kind of course that engineers need if they hope to work in the most lucrative jobs within the autonomous car industry right now. Getting autonomous cars to retail is the main focus of the automotive industry, wherein lies the biggest opportunities in this field.
AI in retail: how it helps retail today
One of the chief utilisations of artificial intelligence has always been its ability to analyse and predict, so retail benefits from it just as well as any other sector. However, as artificial intelligence continues to grow, its applications are exceeding simple forecasting potentials. Stay with us as we discuss the impact and uses of AI in retail today.
Forecasting via data analysis is one of the specialties of AI usage in any field, and in retail, predictive recommendations play a crucial role. According to Business Wire, it was found that about 70% of all online customers are likely to buy products based on AI recommendations.
As to how these algorithms manage to attain such a high level of accuracy in their ability to predict what a potential customer needs, it’s actually a multifaceted process.
- The customer’s search history is analysed in relation to the product-specific keywords
- The available stock is searched automatically to find the best possible match with the customer’s needs
- Either a pre-set liberty is taken by the programme to send the customer a personalised offer, or the info is used by a sales/marketing executive to do the same
- Offline retailers are using in-shop push notification devices to communicate with a customer’s smartphone
- The AI keeps the customers informed about deals and sales in their chosen category of interest, even in an offline environment
Predictive inventory management
Lean management is just as important as lean manufacturing, and in both scenarios, predictive analysis offered by AI plays a huge role. Consider a few of the most beneficial ways in which this is found to be useful in retail inventory management:
- Customer demand prediction, in line with the geographic location of the store, allows for accurate inventory optimisation
- When you have a near-perfect approximation of the customer demands, overstocking or understocking are rarely a problem
- Automated ordering in inventory management can eliminate multiple steps and save time by instantly ordering what is or will soon be necessary
Identification of short-lived demands
A big advantage that the retail industry has is that it doesn’t need to manufacture anything; all it needs to do is have the in-demand product in stock. However, knowing what the trend is at a specific point in time would be very difficult, had it not been for AI-powered identification tools. The tools use the constant stream of data feed for accurately conducting a number of tasks which are crucial, given that short-lived demand prediction via AI analytics can be huge sales boosters:
- Find out what the trends are
- Find out which of those trends apply to the specific geographic location of the store
- Find out which one of the many trends are actually the most relevant to target demographics
- Find out about the most likely target audience for marketing trend-based content to
- In line with everything found so far, a stock order is suggested, which would be as big or as small as the AI predicts the local demand to be
Artificial intelligence is nearly omnipresent at this point, and due to its almost infinite applicability, it helps in everything from improving sales to ensuring security in retail. However, the greatest possibilities are yet to come, and those possibilities are largely dependent on how well we are able to merge AI and robotics together. That could potentially present a picture with new promise for the retail industry.
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