How AI Can Enhance the Retail Experience

Asian woman looking at phone with digital graphs super-imposed on the image

Today’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) is what we like to call light AI. It uses algorithms and big data to analyze customers and behaviors, then spits out solutions or offers based off that data. The machines don’t posses any real “intelligence”.

R.L Adams does a great job of explaining where we currently are with AI in his article, 10 Powerful Examples Of Artificial Intelligence In Use Today.

But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it or overlook its capabilities. In the current AI era, this information is still super useful for personalizing a customer experience and learning more about your business. As telcos undergo their digital transformation, they should think of ways to transform their business using AI. This includes staying informed on new capabilities, because soon enough we will experience true, empowered AI!

Adoption of AI Among Gen Z and Alpha

AI has infinite potential and consumers have already adopted it in its early stages. So, it’s not a stretch to assume that further development would also have high adoption – especially among Generations Z and Alpha.

Two sisters, one older one younger, sitting on a yellow couch using mobile devices like phone, tablets and a laptop

Born between 1995 and 2010, Gen Zs live a hyper-connected, on-demand lifestyle that centres around their devices. With a 97% device penetration rate, the Gen Z’s retail expectations are radically different from any generation before them.

Immediately following the Zs are the Alphas. Born between 2010 and 2025, these kids are already more tech savvy than the average adult. As the children of millennials, these kids are exposed to cutting-edge technology at home, and most have their own device by age 4.

AI in 2019

A primary use for light AI in the digital retail world is for personalizing products and offerings. In a previous blog, we touch on how personalization will grow in response to the demands of new customers.

We see AI in action when we use our Netflix account and scan the movies “suggested” to us or ask our voice assistant a question. These AI cases collect information from your previous interactions with the technology and generate personalized offers based on those interactions, predicting your next move.

Image from Netflix user interface

AI in the Future

Through digital transformation and the expansion of AI, personalization is only going to improve. This has potential to really help retailers further transform their business.

When machines can learn and perform without the help of humans, we will see some pretty cool things – to say the least.

What Does this Look Like for Telco?

Example 1: The AI Store

Imagine walking to a carrier’s store. Immediately you are recognized by facial recognition software and a robot greeter approaches you.

You and the robot discuss the reason behind your visit. Depending on your answer, the robot directs you to a sales associate. In this case, you have a question about your mobile plan.

image of a robot assitant

When you walk up to the sales associate, they greet you by name and already have your information up on a tablet – thanks to the robot greeter!

Turns out, the carrier’s systems realized you could receive an extra 500 minutes of calling a month for the same price – and automatically upgraded your plan.

Problem solved. The associate also informs you of a promotion on phone cases. You browse the cases, unsure of how they will look on your device, you use the VR display to see the case on your model!

Finally, you decide on one, but you are meeting a friend for lunch and don’t want to carry it around.

No problem, the salesperson explains that they can send the case to your home and it’ll be waiting for you this afternoon.


his is an experience! It’s seamless, caters to the customer’s specific needs, and incorporates human interactions supported by technology.

Example 2: Online

How does the in-store scenario translate online?

Similarly, you visit a carrier’s website or even their social media page. Your IP address or other identifier is recognized. You are immediately asked for your log-in information.

After you submit your credentials, you are greeted by a chatbot. You chat with the bot and ask a question about a change with your mobile plan. The chatbot explains the change in the plan – same as the person in the store – and informs you of the phone case promotion.

The bot provides a link to the new selection of phone cases, showing each case displayed on the same model device you own.

You pick your favorite, and have it delivered to your house that evening.

Working Together

These are just two possible journeys. Post-digital transformation, AI will enable thousands of new journeys that combine a multitude of channels like carrier apps, in-store, web, social media, and more.

These journeys are most effective when humans and AI work together to create exceptional, efficient, personalized experiences. AI plays a big role in these experiences, but it is important to note that no machine could ever create more customer value than a living human.

It’s a biological need – no matter our age – to interact with other humans. Without sales reps in-store working with AI, a big element of the experience will be lost.

What would your dream AI journey look like? How can you make it happen in your store?

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Maplewave Company

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