Artificial selection

What does the future of shopping look like with artificial intelligence?

The retail experience is evolving with artificial intelligence (AI) changing the way items can be bought and sold.

Inventory robots can automatically restock shelves and sensors can track customer traffic patterns to identify the optimal store layout. Cross-selling and digital signage opportunities can be modified for specific audiences, providing up-to-the-minute information to motivate consumers, such as alerting them when stocks are low.

Augmented Reality (AR) also enhances the retail experience. In household items, a consumer can upload an image of their room and redecorate it using augmented reality to view different color combinations and choose appropriate accessories suggested by computers. Similarly, in apparel, a consumer can upload their image to “try on” clothes, and the AI ​​can match coordinated accessories to the outfit, not only cross-selling, but also providing the customer with a styling service.

The AI ​​pandemic push

The pandemic has accelerated the integration of AI into retail as it facilitates contactless shopping. Using AI “computer vision”, it is possible to accurately “see” the items in a customer’s cart and calculate their cost, eliminating the need for checkout staff to manually manipulate each item. item to scan its barcode.

French retail giant Carrefour launched an AI-powered store in Paris in November 2021, called Flash 10/10, because it takes “10 seconds to shop and 10 seconds to pay”, and customers have access to “900 articles in a flash”.

Customers are tracked anonymously in the form of a virtual avatar, assigned to them upon entering the store, which is equipped with 2,000 AiFi sensors embedded in the shelves and 60 AI-powered cameras on the ceiling , saving all the item selection.

When the customer picks up a product, it is automatically added to a virtual basket. When the customer has finished shopping, he validates his purchase by passing in front of a payment terminal and makes a contactless payment.

“The Flash concept verifies the expectations of our customers. They want to be able to easily enter the store, know what they are buying, pay quickly and then leave,” said Elodie Perthuisot, Executive Director E-Commerce, Data and Digital Transformation of the Carrefour Group.

How do AI-powered stores work?

In September, the Middle East’s first AI-powered store, Carrefour City+, opened at Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Here, the checkout process has been eliminated. Customers use their phones to access the store, which checks them in at the entrance. Once inside, AI cameras detect and add the selected items to the customer’s digital cart, and the purchase is completed simply by leaving the store.

Majid Al Futtaim, a UAE-based retail and entertainment giant, is behind this cutting-edge retail experience, designed to “facilitate fast, contactless shopping” using mobile phone technology. ‘IA.

Hani Weiss, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said, “The store represents a huge leap forward for retail in the UAE, as Carrefour continues to innovate to meet the needs of the present while anticipating future trends in the future. purchase.”

The risks of data mining

Data is a goldmine for retailers who can accurately convert data into insights that inform the most profitable course of action for the business.

Today’s AI marketers collect (aggregate) large amounts of data from buyers and research (mining) them for keywords and information to be able to target consumers with products appropriate to the market. coming.

For most consumers, online targeted marketing may be more useful and less annoying than general marketing, but the AI ​​buyer may fall victim to spam or something more serious designed to waste their money if their data are mishandled by advertisers or cybercriminals.

In Europe, there are laws to protect the public against aggressive marketing and invasion of privacy. Under Article 8, Protection of personal data, everyone has the right to the protection of their personal data. The article states: “These data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or another legitimate basis provided for by law.” However, outside of Europe, the laws vary and do not apply at all within criminal circles.

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