What is Artificial Intelligence main asset?
If it has enough data, it is perfect at identifying trends and creating predictions!
So imagine when your shopping web site, whether it is food, clothing or household item shopping has collected enough data to predict what you want before you already have thought about it! The retailer could then send to you products that it has predicted, to arrive just in time for you to use them.
This scenario is very close to coming true for many of today’s e-retailers.
When I discuss this idea with friends or in conferences, I always recieve staements such like this will never happen. Statements such as ‘how can it predict my needs as I am unpredictable?’ also, ‘If they send me items that I have not ordered, then I do not have to pay for them!’
Artificial Intelligence actually can predict your predictability as well as your product selection predictability. Of course, retailers will start with customers who are very predictable before moving forward to customers who are more unpredictable.
Retailers have the upper hand when it comes to agreements. When we sign up for an account, there are always “A Terms of Agreement” that needs to be agreed to before continuing into the solution. We never read these agreements, and ultimately the retailers will include that they have the rights to send goods to you, based on your previous orders and that you must pay for them if you keep them. If you do not want them, you have to return the items.
Of course, retailers are smart. They will select VIP accounts to start with and be very conscious of the customer and the encroachment of prediction engine. Fantastic marketing, great pricing and promotion campaigns will be put in place to ensure a comfortable flow of acceptance for Item Prediction.
As humans, we will accept this unknown need to think about such meaningful tasks.
The prediction engine is complete when the loop is closed using feedback and appraisals. In five years, we as humans will wonder why did we ever have to think about buying such goods.
Why would retailers do this? What do they have to gain?
The initial focus will be to build trust for the brand of the retailer, a retailer that can help me focus on more important things in my life. A retailer that can successfully deliver items that I need, and now it can provide products before I know that I need them.
The retailer will get a guaranteed business and as time moves, as more items are added to the basket, more profit from these transactions.
The ultimate gain is the transformation of the business to consumer model to the business to the wholesaler/retail model. I describe this from B2C to B2W.
The retailer (who becomes the wholesaler), can then manage the purchase price against the selling price. Consumer branding as we know it today will disappear as these huge wholesaler-retailers decides which brand to delivered to the consumer. If the product producer does not play ball, then their product will not be available from the wholesaler-retailers.
What happens to today’s retailers, supermarkets, clothes shops, furniture stores and the likes?
Will they survive?
Only specialised stores, exotic boutiques, high-end stores will survive as the customers are looking for specific items, but prediction engines may too replace this ability. We are not describing a revolution but an evolution, just as the corner store disappeared, the high streets and shopping malls have become ghost towns, most retailers will not be able to fight the wholesaler-retailer giants. We can see that today that we order batteries, eats, tickets via our in-house voice-activated AI engine, instead of buying them at a shop.
What can we do? Can we stop this happening?
Not really, it is progress, and it has already started. We can become more humanistic and focus on local markets, community shopping. It will help, but it will not stop the giant wholesalers-retailer making their mark.
Written by George Edward Muir
#ai #futureofwork #future #retail #futureofretail