Digital transformation efforts in retail have gained traction in the past couple years, between adding augmented reality (AR) tech in makeup stores, automated pickup stations, mobile device data to improve customer experience, and more. The majority of executives (72%) believe artificial intelligence (AI) is a “competitive necessity” in retail today, according to a recent Oxford Economics report.
SEE: Special report: Data, AI, IoT: The future of retail (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Google is adding to the movement with its Cloud for Retail initiative, the tech giant announced at the Google Cloud Nextconference on Wednesday. Using data analytics and AI, Google is adding seven new retail solutions to the ecosystem.
All solutions are centered around six core pillars, according to a Google blog post. The pillars include logistics, fulfillment, and delivery; customer acquisition and retention; store operations; omnichannel commerce; merchandising and assortment; and product lifecycle management.
Google outlined the following seven solutions, along with the purposes and use cases of each:
1. Visual Product Search allows retailers to create new mobile experiences by integrating Google Lens-type capabilities. For example, IKEA is leveraging this to enable customers to take a photo of a household item and quickly find that product or similar in its online catalogue.
2. Recommendations AI delivers personalized product recommendations at scale to suit each customer’s tastes and preferences across all touchpoints.
3. Contact Center AI, in beta, helps retailers build modern customer care experiences.
4. AutoML Tables, in beta, help retailers better predict customer demand by automatically building and deploying state-of-the-art ML models, giving retailers the insight they need to preemptively fill gaps in portfolios, and optimize product distribution, promotions, and pricing.
5. eCommerce Hosting provides flexibility and scalability to help brands quickly adjust to market demand across channels.
6. Real Time Inventory Management and Analytics provides inventory visibility across shelves, aisles, and stockroom.
7. Empowered Associates combines the collaborative power of G Suite with the social intranet capabilities from Google Cloud partners to organize, engage, and inform the entire retail organization
All tools are meant to expedite retail business processes, making time-consuming tasks more efficient and opening employees up for more complicated tasks.