Chapter 7

The role of technology

The constant flux of advancing technologies is transforming the world of retail, bringing hope for a more convenient life. New ways to harness the power and cost savings of AI-based technologies
are emerging every day. North Face use cognitive computing to help customers choose between jacket types, using variables such as gender and location. Beauty brand Sephora offers customers a colour match tool powered by AI, to try on cosmetic products virtually via augmented reality. While furniture retailer West Elm use a Pinterest Style Finder, again using AI to scan users Pinterest boards in order to curate a list of products completely personalised to that person.

While the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) may be talk of the town when it comes to cutting edge innovation, it’s the solutions that increase operational efficiencies on a daily basis that really make the difference. For example, retailers that utilise Distributed Order Management (DOM) gain advantages in optimising order fulfilment across multiple channels and systems. This can be applied between multiple supply chain parties using a single, global view of stock. By basing on the best operational cost, retailers can improve their customers shopping experience by delivering what is most suitable for them.

With recent developments in self-service technology, innovative solutions are being used to deliver an unrivalled experience for customers. In January this year, Amazon launched Amazon Go – its checkout-free, walk-out store in Seattle which utilised the same technology used in self-driving cars and deep learning algorithms. Meanwhile Macy’s offers lookbook displays offering touch screen technology, enabling customers to find outfit inspiration and check stock availability. Whether applied at the checkout or for customer service purposes, self-service can streamline and speed up processes, reduce queue times, and equate to an enhanced customer experience.

There are a myriad of new solutions being developed and announced on a daily basis. However, having the greatest, most advanced technology in the world means nothing without the operational structure, strategy, or relevant skillset to use it in the appropriate manner. In order to ensure your tech solution drives revenue and positively impacts the experience of your customers, it should solve real-life challenges. Those that consider multiple points of the shopping journey will yield even more value add.