With the advent of Edge AI technology, brick and mortar retailers now have the tools to fight back against online shopping
Keen to remove as much friction as possible from retail transactions, online and offline stores are embracing AI, with stellar adoption rates are predicted over the next three years.
Indeed, a recent presentation from Deborah Weinswig, of US retail and tech consultancy Coresight Research, estimated that AI adoption by the retail industry would rise to 54 percent over the next three years, far outstripping banking, manufacturing and healthcare. In addition, the analyst also put the retail industry top for AI spend in 2018 too, investing $3.4 billion last year alone, followed by $3.3 billion for the entire banking sector.
Edge AI: Untapped Potential
The reason behind this exponential adoption rate is that Edge AI offers the potential to bridge the gap between online and offline retail, not only removing friction from offline purchasing decisions, but also adding the value of deeper levels of consumer data for encouraging loyalty and driving repeat purchases.
When linked with increasingly sophisticated immersive multimedia digital signage (powered by systems such as the VIA ALTA DS 3 Edge AI System), significantly improved customer experiences can be created far more easily and effectively than with traditional techniques.
Pattern Matching at Scale
Most importantly, AI applications can identify trends and anomalies from existing data sets and use them to predict future behavior with a usable degree of accuracy. For example, by extrapolating from past purchases what future needs will be. This can range from the obvious – regular buyers of dog food probably own or look after a dog – to the more esoteric – based on the regularity and weight of the purchases, an AI can easily predict when the next purchase will be, how many dogs there are and of what size they might be.
This type of analysis, applied to millions of individuals, yields measurable results, and actionable incentives.
Pinpoint Predictive Delivery
However, the next challenge for retailers is the method of delivery for those incentives — with so many channels already available, how do you stand out from the crowd? Technologies such as geo-fencing, which enables precise mobile targeting, and real-time multimedia digital signage, mean that key messages can be delivered to individual shoppers at exactly the right moment.
This can all be delivered by a solution like the VIA ALTA DS 3 Edge AI system, which provides compute, graphics, and AI processing performance with dual 4K display support. It also supports rich connectivity options, plus flexible camera and I/O peripheral integration capabilities, all in an extremely compact package.
A comprehensive Evaluation Kit Image (EVK) features Android 8.0 and includes the Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK, which is designed to help developers run one or more neural network models trained in Caffe/Caffe2, ONNX, or TensorFlow. Popular use cases include multimedia-rich Edge AI design applications of all types, such as smart retail engagement systems for stores, hotels, and restaurants or smart access control systems for offices, factories, and apartment buildings.
Long-term Data Investment
Paired with the latest payment authentication systems, there are clear benefits to be obtained from Edge AI in retail, enabling bricks and mortar stores to maximise their effectiveness and ensure that footfall is capitalized upon efficiently. The diversity of contactless payment systems and the explosive growth in flexible delivery options (ship to home, ship to store, home trial, etc.) track the evolution of new retail, a path that leads to Edge AI and beyond.
Retail operators are also increasingly aware that the longer-term play is quite simply an investment in usable customer data, an asset that is only growing in importance and long-term value.
Interestingly, in the shorter term, the power of AI in retail is likely to have other impacts, as identified by IBM in a recent report. The company identified six ways that AI is being used by retailers, with the top slots (at 85 percent) being taken by supply chain planning and demand forecasting, with customer intelligence coming in third at 79 percent. Marketing, advertising, and campaign management (75 percent), store operations (73 percent) and pricing and promotion (73 percent) rounded out the list.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
In addition to the ‘hard’ benefits discussed so far, there are a range of ‘soft’ benefits, most importantly in quantifiable customer satisfaction. A recent survey from Capgemini found that those using AI have lower customer complaints and higher sales. In fact, 98 percent of respondents using AI in customer-facing functions (such as smart digital signage) expect the number of customer complaints to reduce by up to 15 per cent, while 99 percent expect AI to increase sales by up to 15 per cent.
While life for brick and mortar retailers will continue to be challenging over the coming months, the future of retail will be increasingly digitized, and offline retailers will rely on edge AI in order to achieve this. The changes will not happen overnight, indeed it will be a gradual process. But as the industry tries new initiatives and tests out new directions, so adoption overall will increase. Plug and play solutions will play a significant role in this new world, interfacing with existing displays and ‘future proofing’ them, as well as driving the adoption of new display hardware.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you customize the VIA ALTA DS 3 Edge AI System to meet your specific Edge AI requirements for a broad spectrum of retail, hospitality, education, corporate, and entertainment environments.