What will a store look like in 20 years? And who (or what) will greet you when you walk through the doors?
Doug Stephens of Retail Prophet tackled these questions at Dx3 2016 with Brian Mitchinson, CMO of Fluid and Steve Carlin, Vice President Marketing and Business Development, The Americas of Softbank Robotics.
The panel was preceded by Doug Stephen’s morning keynote on March 3 about why e-commerce doesn’t mean the demise of stores as we know them.
The Retail Collective Lab at Dx3 2016 was very much designed to address these questions. Attendees were able to interact with retail robot Pepper and try out the North Face website, powered by artificial intelligence. The keynote panelists were able to add some context to the technologies on the show floor.
“If you think about robotics in a retail setting or any business setting really, what you’re thinking about how do you replace repetitive, low-level tasks,” Carlin said. “And that frees up staff… to focus on the the high-order, more customized interactions with the shoppers.”
While robotics can help customers in-store, interfacing with them through a screen can be enhanced using AI.
“One of the keys is to start thinking of your product from a different perspective,” Mitchinson said. “Analyze how people buy, what are the things they think about when they buy.”
The role of artificial intelligence is to narrow the scope of the customer’s search using natural language and logic that a sales person might also employ. That includes the person they’re buying for, the reason behind the purchase, and what materials and colours the customer is interested in.
“You need to think through those attributes,” Mitchinson advised.
While e-commerce has a big impact on how people shop today, it’s now clear that technology will play a big part of in-store retail too.