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Is AI becoming retail tech table stakes?

artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly evolving into a standard technology tool retailers use across the enterprise.

In February, I wrote a column about the importance of not leaving out the “human touch” in retail AI deployments. That piece of advice still holds true, but in the six weeks since the column was published, I have posted 23 more articles focused on AI in retail. Like many innovative solutions before it, AI is starting to move from leading edge to mainstream.

Retailers are clearly moving ahead with AI, human touch or not. Here are three recent examples of retailers demonstrating the utility of AI by leveraging it in very different areas of the enterprise.

Kum & Go eases merchandising

Iowa-based convenience chain Kum & Go is leveraging AI to unify its demand planning and category management processes. The retailer is deploying AI-based applications for merchandising and supply chain functions including forecasting, replenishment, and space and floor planning from Relex Solutions.

Kum & Go intends to enhance its existing replenishment process via Relex’s machine-learning-driven forecasts that factor in additional data sources to increase order accuracy. Additionally, Kum & Go will utilize the Relex On The Go mobility solution, which drives store-level exception-based order review, enables mobile planogram review, and promotes seamless interaction between operations and merchandising teams. The retailer will also expand its existing merchandising capabilities to allow easier vendor collaboration and performance-driven assortment decisions.

Albertsons automates POS software testing

Software testing is not the most glamorous technology activity, but it is vitally important to maintaining optimal enterprise performance. Grocery giant Albertsons is streamlining the testing of POS and peripheral systems with AI-driven test automation technology from Eggplant and its partner IntelliQA.

During a review of its technology infrastructure, Albertsons Cos. determined it wanted to move from relying on manual testing of its POS and peripheral systems to an automated solution that would improve the quality of its software. The intelligent automation technology tests thousands of scenarios quickly and continuously hunts for defects.

As a result, Albertsons rapidly accelerated the delivery and quality of its POS software. The company also freed up employees to focus on evaluation and exploratory testing, rather than repetitive manual test execution. Time needed to execute tests dropped from almost two weeks to a couple of days.

SimpleTire makes finding products a snap

SimpleTire customers can streamline their product selection process with a new visual search feature. The Philadelphia-based online tire retailer is introducing SimpleSnap, a proprietary AI-based visual search platform that enables shoppers to take a smartphone photo of their existing tire size (located on the sidewall). Customers then upload the photo to the SimpleTire site and immediately receive tire recommendations personalized for them, based on existing size.

SimpleTire developed its SimpleSnap tool to fill a very human need with smart technology. According to a survey commissioned by the retailer, only 20% of U.S. drivers are completely confident they know their car's precise tire size without looking and nearly half (46%) cite finding the right information as one of the top challenges when buying and replacing their tires.



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