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data Editor's pick mobile Retail technology

5 ways 5G will impact retail

Last month, mobile phone network Three ‘switched on’ its 5G service in London through an immersive experience with fashion designer Henry Holland.   

The “Living Room of the Future” initiative saw visitors able to try on mixed reality headsets from Magic Leap, to enter into a world consisting of everything from a mindfulness moment, to a gaming experience and the delivery of (virtual) House of Holland shoes by drone to your door. 

5G is expected to ramp up in 2020 on a global level. Further cities in Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Italy have already begun adopting it. Meanwhile, in the US, although four cities have turned on the signal, the technology is tied up in a trade war, since China’s Huawei is the dominant 5G supplier. Regardless, the latest Ericsson Mobility Report predicts there will be more than 10 million 5G subscriptions globally by the end of this year, and that 5G population coverage is forecast to reach 45% by 2024.

In it simplest sense, 5G is just a faster version of 4G – about 20x the speed in fact. That coupled with almost no latency, means the new networks will nearly eliminate lag time. This is big news for mobile of course – opening up paths to purchase in even the busiest of crowds for everyday shoppers. 

But its existence will also help power other tech advances, from machine learning to digital realities. Add in features like low energy consumption and higher reliability, and it brings an opportunity for the retail industry to enhance the consumer experience in the physical store with a number of seamless real-time functionalities, leading to increased engagement and conversions. 

As a result, now is the ideal time for retailers to start planning how their stores and interfaces will look when 5G becomes widely available. Here are 5 ways we see it having an impact… 

Connected Spaces

Connectivity in our physical stores, means devices that can constantly exchange data with each other – also known as those under the header of the Internet of Things (IoT). To do so, they need a fast, reliable network that doesn’t require too much power. 5G networks will achieve a 90% reduction in power consumption, guaranteeing up to 10 years of battery life for low power IoT devices. This means, for example, that more retailers will have access to smart shelves like the ones Amazon implemented in its Amazon Go stores. This technology uses dozens of sensors to provide real-time inventory visibility and update pricing according to demand. 

Key tech we’re tracking: dynamic pricing, automated checkouts, connected fitting rooms, automatic replenishment

Amazon Go Store
Immersive Experiences

Augmented and virtual realities use a lot of processing power and cellular data. With the increased capacity of 5G networks, retailers will be able to create richer, more detailed experiences when integrating their physical and digital worlds. This will make technologies that we’re already experimenting with, and seeing consumer adoption of, only more of a possibility. The result will mean shoppers are able to immediately check product materials or ingredients through the use of smart glasses or their smartphones, for instance. Those same apps will also guide customers to the products they want by projecting directions into their field of view in real-time as they navigate the store space.

Key tech we’re tracking: immersive interfaces, gamification, wayfinding

Puma’s new flagship store with gamification
Higher Efficiencies

Artificial intelligence will also thrive on IoT devices via 5G. That’s not to say the AI algorithms themselves will change, but that the higher network will enable more accurate real-time data to flow, ultimately facilitating smarter systems. In retail, for instance, managers will be able to delegate more operational and inventory decisions to automation. This means greater efficiencies as well as accuracies on things like forecasting inventory quantities so as to optimize stock levels, leaving sales associates to spend more time on customer care. Having stock in the right place at the right time will also decrease the risk of losing customers to competitors, as product availability will be more accurate. 

Key tech we’re tracking: retail analytics, inventory visibility, demand forecasting, endless aisle  

Walmart’s endless aisle
Personalization

With lower latency, retailers will also be able to respond to purchasing patterns and behaviors with immersive, tailored content in real-time. Implementing 5G in-store will allow for greater interactions and data collections between sales associates and customers. Real time data could be tracked to create personalized adverts or offers based on the preferences of individual customers, helping to increase the incentive to buy. 

Key tech we’re tracking: marketing automation, personalized promotions, AI recommendations, product search tools, clienteling

Nike’s Melrose store
Fulfilment

The implementation of 5G will also revolutionize logistics by improving  efficiency in fulfilment tasks and increasing the speed of transportation. Greater connectivity and improved reliability will help communications between brands, couriers and consumers. The full capacity of 5G will eventually also enable the roll out of automation in transport and warehouses, thanks to improved processing of the vast amounts of data required in real-time. 

Key tech we’re tracking: smart warehousing, robotics, automated vehicles

Lowebot assisting a consumer

Additional reporting by Larissa Gomes.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce product

Rapha launches custom cycling kits on demand

British cycling brand Rapha has teamed up with software company Unmade to launch a personalized design service that enables customers to create their own team kits.

Rapha Custom allows cyclists to design their team’s own kits by starting from a template, and then choosing from a variety of layouts (such as plain or chevron) and over 40 color combinations. To further personalize it, they can upload their team logos and add text. The software will then show photorealistic renders of the final design onto any photography, including lifestyle imagery of a group in any location-based scenario. Designs are digitally printed on demand, and delivered within eight weeks.

“When launching Rapha Custom we looked to address some of the biggest constraints for groups of cyclists creating custom kit,” said Ed Clifford, head of Rapha Custom. “The market was crying out for a design led and fully digital customer experience that was seamless in manufacturing and delivery. Unmade’s software provides us with a best in class system that is fully automated and integrated throughout the entire process.”

Traditionally, creating a custom team kit requires long lead times and a poor experience for the user, as well as from a production perspective, high manual involvement in the design and production of it. This service however offers brands seamless integration through a dedicated platform within the e-commerce site, and a much more efficient customer journey as a result.

Rapha Custom
Rapha Custom


“At Unmade it is extremely important for us to work in partnership with forward-thinking brands who share our vision for creating real change within the fashion and sportswear industries, through bespoke experiences and collections that are both innovative and efficiently manufactured,” said Hal Watts, co-founder and CEO of Unmade. “Working in collaboration with the world leading cycle brand Rapha has allowed us to expand our capabilities from a knitwear focus into print.”

Beyond the customer-facing element of this service, Rapha will also be able to create time-limited content or designs for special editions, partner collaborations as well as internally, bespoke products on-demand for prototyping and short runs.

How are you thinking about e-commerce innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce Editor's pick Retail Startups technology

Amazon exploring the future of sizing with 3D body scanning trial

Body Labs 3D scan
Body Labs 3D scan

Amazon is currently inviting people to have their bodies 3D scanned at its NYC offices, hinting at the e-commerce giant’s future plans of entering the virtual try-on and personalized fit space.

According to The Wall Street Journal, participants are being asked to return every two weeks to have their bodies scanned over the course of 20 weeks. They are also being asked to answer a series of fitness and health questions, and complete an online survey that determines weight-related loss and goals in the past year. The survey reads: “We are interested in understanding how bodies change shape over time.”

The project comes from Amazon’s new 3D body scanning unit, and is assumed to tie to a broader aim of improving the fit of clothing sold online – one of the industry’s greatest challenges. It comes after Amazon paid a reported $100m+ to acquire Body Labs, a startup that creates 3D body models to support B2B software applications, back in October 2017.

At the time TechCrunch reported that Body Labs’ website, which is currently down, demonstrated how its API could be used to “accurately predict and measure the 3D shape of your customers using just a single image”, which in turn could be used to power custom apparel or be used by fashion e-commerce retailers.

Over the past couple of years Amazon has been making aggressive moves towards the fashion category, both from a hardware, service and merchandise perspective.

In April 2017, it released the Echo Look, a device that uses a camera to help users keep track of their outfits and receive style advice. Its try-before-you-buy Prime Wardrobe service, launched last summer, is also now open to consumers beyond the Prime membership and is due to launch imminently.

The retailer has so far developed over 50 in-house apparel labels for women, men and children, showing that there is virtually no corner of the apparel industry that it doesn’t have covered.

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data Editor's pick product social media technology

Michael Kors launches smartwatch-focused chatbot

Michael Kors introduces chatbot to smartwatches, tech, fashion tech, smart technology, chatbots
Michael Kors introduces chatbot to support smartwatches

Michel Kors has launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant, designed to support its Access Sofie smartwatch for women.

The bot aims to teach users about the smartwatch’s features and functionalities, guiding new owners on the set-up process of their device when they first purchase, enabling them to get the most out of it thereafter.

It also provides style inspiration curated from user-generated content and shopping information about items to buy within the experience, including interchangeable bands for the watches. That is done within the Facebook Messenger feed, or via a voice-activated option available through the Google Assistant.

Should the user need help, the bot is also equipped with FAQ support and the ability to hand users off to a human customer service representative when the moment arises.

The chatbot is also available for non-watch owners, enabling them to explore the different Sofie smartwatch styles, then inviting them to either make a purchase on the spot or head to their nearest Michael Kors location.

This sort of move for chatbots as a key part of customer service is becoming increasingly commonplace among brands and retailers. Part of the reason, beyond the marketing drive it has facilitated initially, is the scale it enables. As the technology itself improves, this is only going to get smarter.

Across verticals, there are now more than 100,000 bots on the Facebook Messenger platform, all of which have the potential to reach the platform’s 1.3 billion users.

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Editor's pick product technology

Fashion brands are tooling up to create custom clothing in minutes

Shoppers at Tommy Hilfiger can customise their items at its Regent Street store. This Wired design took 20 minutes to create on a Brother PR655 machine
Shoppers at Tommy Hilfiger can customise their items at its Regent Street store. This Wired design took 20 minutes to create on a Brother PR655 machine

The Polo Custom shop dominates the lower ground floor of the new Polo Ralph Lauren store on Regent Street in London. If you want to embroider personalised patches or monogrammed blazers, a few taps on a tablet is all that’s required. Similarly, at the Tommy Hilfiger store down the street, shoppers can pick any item in stock and have it customised in store while they wait. At Burberry, meanwhile, you can monogram a scarf; at Gucci it’s possible to appliqué designs on jackets; and Louis Vuitton lets its customers initial luggage under its Mon Monogram programme.

According to Deloitte research, one in three consumers surveyed were interested in personalised products, with 71% of those prepared to pay a premium for such embellishments. Moreover, focusing on the fashion sector, 15% of those asked are prepared to pay a substantial markup – more than 40 per cent over the asking price – for such items.

“Luxury consumers are increasingly expecting products that feel special and distinctive to them, such as monogrammed iPhone cases from Chaos Fashion,” says Tammy Smulders, global managing director of Havas LuxHub, the media group’s division dedicated to fashion, luxury and lifestyle business. “Equally, brands are using technology and data to segment their customers and provide the right kinds of products, services and brand communication.”

Technology will continue to drive this trend, according to José Neves, founder and CEO of online retailer Farfetch. “Customisation will be the next revolution in luxury,” he says. “We wanted to find a way of offering luxury and bespoke products to an audience that’s increasingly knowledgeable about style and quality.”

Read the rest of the story via Wired.

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data e-commerce

Machine learning: Jewelry.com drove revenue +39% by personalising its homepage recommendations

Personalization on Jewelry.com from Dynamic Yield
Personalisation on Jewelry.com from Dynamic Yield

Product recommendations for e-commerce sites are not new in concept, but the suggestions they present to shoppers are increasingly getting smarter thanks to the algorithms behind them.

And the result of delivering more relevant product ideas? Higher spend of course. When Jewelry.com partnered with omnichannel personalisation technology firm, Dynamic Yield, to integrate personalised product recommendations on its website, for instance, it saw revenue increases per visitor of 39% from the homepage, 13% from product pages, and 18% from cart pages.

The key, according to the team, was not just to focus on the usual ‘most popular’ or ‘similar to current item’ suggestions, but instead to turn to machine learning to automatically select the most effective strategy for each user.

That meant finding a personalisation strategy that would work for both visitors with a rich history of behavioural interactions, and those who are new to the site, thus for whom minimal information is known. Doing so is about capturing signals from shoppers about their buying intentions and preferences for specific products as they move through the sales funnel, the Dynamic Yield team explained, and then providing upsell and cross-sell opportunities throughout.

“Traditional retail is beginning to have what we like to call a ‘moneyball moment’ where the old way of simply making gut decisions on which experience to serve your customers is being challenged. As machine learning technology becomes more advanced, algorithms will outperform humans in recommending products that users are more likely to show an affinity for, and ultimately buy,” Mukund Ramachandran, CMO of Dynamic Yield, notes.

“With Dynamic Yield, we can use machine learning to make data-driven recommendations based on where visitors are in the sales funnel. The ability to assess the level of valuable information about each visitor and automatically serve the most effective strategy has empowered us to increase revenue across our site,” said Jon Azrielant, director of marketing at Jewelry.com.

On the homepage, for instance, the Dynamic Yield widget leveraged affinity-based recommendations, recommending products according to a weighted score of what returning users had added-to-cart, viewed, or purchased in the past. To induce engagement among new visitors, the widget presented products with the highest amount of page views and click-through-rate on the site.

“While ‘point solutions’ for deploying product recommendations have existed in the market for decades, these solutions are limited by data silos that restrict their algorithms to only making decisions based on a user’s interactions with product recommendation widgets. With Dynamic Yield’s unified data stack, information onboarded from all onsite interactions, third party data, CRM data and loyalty data can be ingested,” Ramachandran explains.

On the product pages, the team has been running A/B tests, comparing 45% of users who were recommended products ‘similar to the current item’, 45% who were recommended ‘top-selling’ products, and 10% who received?a control variation. As a result, Jewelry.com revealed that recommending ‘top-selling’ products provided a 10% uplift compared to the other variations.

Finally, an additional widget was introduced on the bottom of the cart page to showcase items frequently bought together with the current item.

“These results are very strong compared to industry benchmarks. We think this is the case because with Dynamic Yield product recommendations are only part of the puzzle. The entire site starts working better for you – the homepage engagement is higher which leads more people to discover the most relevant products as they browse,” Ramachandran adds.

This post first appeared on Forbes.com.

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Comment e-commerce technology

Comment counts: To reignite retail, value has to come from a digital core

We’re entering a retail renaissance where value will come from personalised shopping experiences, innovative delivery services, and entertainment blended with commerce, says Lori Mitchell-Keller of SAP.

Digital is facilitating a retail renaissance, says SAP
Digital is facilitating a retail renaissance, says SAP

The retail industry has seen significant changes in 2017. Following traditional brick-and-mortar store closures across the spectrum – from sporting goods to fashion and general merchandise – some allege we’re on the brink of a retail apocalypse. However, in my opinion, the industry is undergoing an extraordinary period of change – one that is much more representative of a retail renaissance.

To stay competitive in the digital landscape, we’re seeing many retailers redefining their business models and putting technology at the heart of their strategies. To be successful and meet growing consumer expectations, retailers must focus on establishing a strong digital core and leverage the benefits it provides: creating personalised shopping experiences, offering innovative delivery services, and blending entertainment with commerce.


Personalised shopping experiences

With consumer demands continuously growing, it’s important that retailers are actively using technology to provide personalised offerings to make the shopping experience unique to each individual. In my experience, consumers expect retailers to have a comprehensive understanding of their likes and dislikes prior to purchase. After all, more than 61% of consumers value the ability to ask a sales associate for product recommendations.

One retailer that understands this and is employing a dynamic platform to collect data and build a comprehensive consumer history is ULTA Beauty. Through ULTA Beauty’s clientelling app, store associates have access to consumer’s shopping histories and preferences. This allows employees to assist with the selection process and ensure consumers, such as myself, are not overwhelmed while browsing the more than 20,000 products ULTA Beauty carries. Employees can review items specific to each consumer and provide targeted product recommendations – making our shopping experiences both enjoyable and more convenient.


Innovative delivery services

Another way retailers are using technology to invigorate their business processes is by providing enhanced delivery services. In this era of unprecedented innovation, consumers are starting to expect near real-time delivery. Therefore, it’s crucial that retailers expand consumer delivery options – an investment that has even greater ROI.

For example, sunglass manufacturer Maui Jim invested in UberRUSH to make purchasing items more convenient, affordable, and reliable. Through the partnership, the company can now ensure door-to-door delivery in one hour or less, elevating consumer satisfaction. Another service that many companies are implementing is click and collect, including curbside delivery. Retailers such as Walmart are focusing on incorporating the benefits of both traditional shopping and e-commerce by offering online purchasing and one-hour curbside delivery at local franchises – drastically improving the entire shopping experience.


Blending entertainment with commerce

Today, it’s clear that shoppers expect curated offerings unique to their specific styles and preferences. Many retailers are finding success by focusing on delivering personalised shopping experiences for consumers, instead of merely trying to sell their products. Amazon’s upcoming launch of a home makeover show, Overhaul, is designed to sell products by merging entertainment and commerce, for instance. It will feature many of Amazon’s home furnishings, and allow viewers to click on and purchase the items directly through the site.

Another example of a retailer that has merged entertainment with commerce to deliver a heightened shopping experience and increased sales is Nike. The company recently invested in the development of a new physical store location in New York City that features a mini indoor basketball court and a soccer field. By providing an entertaining environment, the retailer can attract consumers while expanding the shopping experience beyond just purchasing products.


The future of retail

The retail industry is rapidly changing to meet the dynamic demands of consumers and incorporate elements of personalisation, innovation and entertainment into their overall business strategies. Evident by new store openings from retailers like Bonobos, Warby Parker and Zara, it’s clear that traditional brick-and-mortar locations are not a thing of the past, but a living canvas of innovation and opportunity.

The retailers that understand that consumers are willing to pay more for a better shopping experience and incorporate technology into every aspect of their value chain will find great success – and, as participant and advisor, I’m excited to see how the industry continues to evolve during this time of extreme transformation.

Lori Mitchell-Keller is the global general manager of consumer industries at SAP. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via info@fashionandmash.com.

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data e-commerce technology

The simple ways Topman is thinking about a personalised customer experience

Topman's student prices toggle on its homepage
Topman’s student prices toggle on its homepage

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, took to the stage at Shoptalk Europe this week with a welcome reminder of the things it’s possible to do without huge budgets.

He noted how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, and said his focus is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

The key, he said, is about doing things the retail board will understand – referring to Sir Phillip Green as an owner that is becoming increasingly tech savvy but still at his roots a traditional shopkeeper – and said it’s about nudging people along.

He highlighted three simple ways his team is personalising the e-commerce experience for shoppers in order to help drive conversions.

The first is dedicated to students. A simple switch at the top of the website, facilitated by SaaS company Qubit, enables users to toggle all products to student prices – a 10% discount. “Normally we see 38% of spend on the website is with students, when we do this then we see 50%, so it’s huge – just by taking the friction out,” Rees-John explained.

The second he said is about personalising the website based on geography. “We see trends in the data as to what people are buying and where. Sterotypically, for instance, we don’t sell as many coats in [the northern city of] Newcastle – it’s all lads in short sleeve shirts – compared to in the south-east.” So the website is set up to over-show on categories where they do sell.

The last pulls in artificial intelligence: Canadian company Granify helps optimise Topman’s conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Long-term Rees-John is looking to streamline the creative process for personalised content. “One of the biggest barriers to personalisation is the creative output – dynamic ads have their limits and if you have multiple segments then you need multiples of artwork. Our view is by the end of the year to have six different modules on the homepage and every person will see them in different orders but only see three at one time.”

The result will equal 720 different permutations of the website. “It isn’t a big data exchange it’s just a different experience of the brand going forward,” he said.

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data e-commerce Editor's pick Startups technology

Artificial intelligence dominates the retail conversation at Shoptalk Europe

Target is using Pinterest's Lens visual search technology
Target is using Pinterest’s Lens visual search technology

If there was one overarching term at Shoptalk Europe this week, it was artificial intelligence. From machine learning to visual search, natural language processing and more, the role of systems that facilitate smarter and more personalised customer experiences was key.

Keynote talks from Google, Alibaba, Westfield and more all referenced such a focus, with repeats of numerous big stats bandied about in terms of where this space is moving. By 2020, 85% of customer interaction in retail will be managed by AI, according to Gartner, multiple speakers said. And 30% of all companies will employ AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes by the same time period, they further added.

“We’re putting AI front and centre as a driving force to make [smart commerce] happen,” noted eBay’s chief product officer, RJ Pittman. “The curve is steep but the opportunity is extraordinary. So we’re going to start climbing; we’re right at the precipice of a transformational inflection point.”

He referenced the company’s Shopbot on Facebook Messenger, as well as its Google Home pricing tool for sellers. AI is what will make commerce more personal, he explained, and importantly also scaleable.

Other such initiatives were referenced throughout the conference too. Levi’s noted its virtual stylist chatbot, created with Mode.ai, which aims to replicate the experience customers have in store by helping them with the fit and style of jeans to suit them.

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, highlighted his work with a Canadian company called Granify to help optimize the menswear store’s e-commerce conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Flash sales site BrandAlley meanwhile, outlined how it works with marketing automation company Emarsys for persona based targeting in its email campaigns, which has led to a 16% conversion lift. And AI firm Sentient Technologies showed how providing 256 real-time website design variations for consumers for Swedish flower delivery chain Euroflorist, has resulted in a 17% increase in conversions.

An underlying thread throughout however, was how much more work there is to be done to move towards true personalisation. Rees-John reminded the audience how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, for instance. His focus, he said, is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

Meanwhile, Bruce Macinnes, chairman of BrandAlley, noted that he hopes to move towards personalising the entire customer journey from homepage to checkout. “We have plenty of personalised content along that journey but it’s not fully personalised yet and we believe there is a way to go to using all the data that we have,” he explained.

Charmaine Huet, chief marketing officer of Woolworths South Africa, wants to work towards having millions of different communications plans every day. “78% of our revenue comes from credit cards, so we already know a lot about our customers. Now what we’re really thinking about is how do you really personalise the experience for them and how do you create content that is really personalised and resonates with [each of them] – and this is really difficult, it takes humans and data and AI.”

Vladimir Stankovic, global digital and e-commerce director at Camper, said AI can be seen as the enabler for all this. “It will allow us to get closer to our consumer, to give them what they want.” His big hopes lie in how it can impact discovery: “Natural language processing and visual search are providing new ways to discover product. I believe there is huge value from this technology.”

Visual search companies particularly dominated the exhibit floor, including the likes of Slyce, which works with Tommy Hilfiger, and Fashwell, which works with Zalando. Ted Mann, CEO of the former, said being able to search through your camera lens will become common practice for shoppers down the road, noting new functionalities his team is adding including being able to use visual search to create wishlists and to fill shopping baskets.

In his keynote talk, Tim Kendall, president of Pinterest, likewise said “the future of discovery will be visual”. He pushed the idea that Pinterest is aiming to do to discovery what Google did to search, with visual search at the heart of achieving that.

The company’s Lens tool, which allows customers to find similar items from its database by searching through their cameras, is being heavily integrated in the shopping space. It recently launched a partnership with Target on that basis, similarly starting with a registry experience.

“This Pinterest partnership quite literally helps us shorten the distance from when our guests have an idea to when they’re ready to make a purchase,” said Rick Gomez, chief marketing officer at Target, at launch. “It’s another way we’re making it easy and fun for our guests to explore and find new products.”

Ultimately the goal, said Huet of Woolworths South Africa, is for automation in retail processes to do just this: allow more frictionless shopping, as well as a level of personalised experience so consumers can spend more time doing (and finding) what they really want.

AI in its various forms, is helping shopkeepers move this forward. “Just look at this conference; AI is already here,” said Pittman of eBay. “I say embrace it. And then go build something great.”

This post first appeared on Forbes

Categories
data e-commerce mobile technology

Sunglass Hut sees 21% conversion increase with AI-enabled site personalisation

Sunglass Hut's My Frame Finder tool from Sentient Aware
Sunglass Hut’s My Frame Finder tool from Sentient Aware

Sunglass Hut is working with artificial intelligence firm, Sentient Technologies, to provide on-the-fly search personalisation for consumers.

Doing so has resulted in 21% higher conversions from shoppers exposed to the personalised experience compared to those just using standard search filtering methods over the past nine months, according to the team. Average order values are also 8% higher.

Using Sentient’s Aware platform, the initiative delivers an individualised shopping experience for every customer when they come to the site called “My Frame Finder”. This AI can then understand shopper intent by analysing hundreds of different vectors of an image the user is interacting with.

The aim of doing so, according to a case study released by the Sentient Technologies team, was to find a way to translate the customer service Sunglass Hut offers in store – where sales associates act as personal stylists able to help customers find the looks they’re after – into the digital space.

Shannon Rose, senior director of e-commerce for parent company, Luxottica Brands, said: “We wanted to find a solution that made shopping online as personal and delightful? as shopping in one of our stores. The tools we had at our disposal for our e-commerce store couldn’t achieve that and sometimes they left our customers feeling lost or unsatisfied. Sentient Aware was quick to integrate, started delivering immediate results and offered us the ability to expand across different customer entry points.”

The case study explains: “What makes Aware so unique is that it uses deep learning to build a model of a retailer’s catalogue using only its images, allowing the AI to understand quickly the relationship between products in a catalogue, much like a trained store associate would.”

Sunglass Hut is now also using Sentient Aware to power its product detail page recommendations and to include a Shop Similar Styles feature alongside.

Up next is applying the tool to the mobile experience. “Given Aware’s success on desktop, ?we’re excited to move to the next stage of deployment,” said Rose. “Mobile is one of our biggest sources of customer traffic and one of the hardest platforms on which to achieve a high conversion rate.”