Through the years, we have seen every industry evolve and grow with changes in technologies. The fashion retail industry is no different, along with changing trends in fashion, they have had to grow, evolve and adapt to changing technologies as well. Online shopping took the world by storm and soon everyone was enjoying shopping right from their homes. With the current pandemic situation, this has become very convenient and the industry has been forced to reckon with the demand and speed.
Talking about advancement in technologies, artificial intelligence is one term that has found its way into numerous industrial and commercial sectors. It seems as if when the AI flows into the field, magic happens! Well, it does take a lot of effort to create the magic though, but yes magic does happen and a lot more is achieved efficiently and quickly. Fashion retail industry is also being benefited by artificial intelligence through customer engagement, customer sentiment analysis, smart inventory management, smarter store management, personalization and automation.
If you take the fashion retail industry, many of them have numerous customer data from all over their stores, warehouses and their online portals. Data is never a problem in this industry, but, what proves as a challenge is to aggregate this data and make it useful information for the artificial intelligence algorithm to work on. How this data can be grouped or how this data can be more organized is a challenge that most data scientists are forced to work on. It is always said that AI is data-driven but most of the time goes in finding, cleaning and preparing data to be fed into the algorithms.
The next thing to think about is what are the pressure points for the customers both in-store and online shopping. Numerous questionnaires, research and surveys go into understanding the customer issues and problems. This research helps the data scientists to understand what part of the mechanism needs to be automated or made smarter. There is no point in having a fancy solution to a problem that is rarely encountered or even existed. It makes an impact only when the most popular problem is handled and the AI magic works through it! Therefore, the next step for the data scientists is to investigate customer issues and discuss which will make the most impact on their industry and then work on those.
What could be the pressure points in the fashion industry? So far, we all assumed keeping up with the fashion trends is the most pressurising aspect of a fashion retail industry. Well, that is not all. The fashion industry has to take care of customer engagement, customer experience and retain their customer’s brand loyalty. They have to handle the logistics and the pressurising demands of online customers. How they go about automating and adopting every aspect of AI in their issues is a very interesting journey.
Personalization is something that goes a long way with fashion retail. Every customer should be made to feel like a king or a queen and personal attention provided to them always makes them loyal to the brand. AI algorithms help to observe the customers, read and study their patterns and they help build a personalized store for the customer based on their preferences. With online shopping, customers are tracked by their clicks, the time spent on a particular item or a category and the algorithms learn about the customers with this information. This is a challenge with retail stores as we are not aware of the customer patterns when they visit the store. Now, this is also being tackled in intelligent smart cameras and algorithms inside the store. With in-store shopping, cameras record the customer’s journey through the store and this data when fed to AI algorithms, it can help them learn about the customer’s preferences. The algorithms make related suggestions and alert the customer on offers on their preferences. In some instances, emails are sent to customers on their offers and this varies from customer to customer based on his loyalty to the brand. This learning helps the industry to design a personalized store or personalized preference listing for the customer which makes his job easier and quicker.
Inventory tracking and management are also being tracked intelligently and alerts based on supply and demand makes the store owners more ready and equipped to serve the customers. The physical stores have cameras which track the shelves for their supplies so that store personnel can attend to empty shelves and the needs of the customers based on the intelligent alert system. Supply Demand chain can be automated with the AI algorithm and the industry will remain season ready! For the fashion designers in the fashion retail industry, it is always a challenge to keep with the trends. Usually, the seasonal line of clothes or accessories are planned almost a year ahead and what can get popular after a year is always changing. We can introduce AI algorithms to predict the changes in the fashion industry and it can come up with suggestions and predictions on what can get popular down the line.
All the changes and evolution is finally happening to satisfy the customers, therefore customer support is extremely critical. Reverting to email queries or messages, tracking customer orders and their deliveries are an important aspect of customer service. Conversational AI and AI cognitive services provide exciting solutions such as chatbots, a digital virtual assistant which are designed to provide customer support 24/7. This paves way for customer service agents to concentrate on essential aspects or bigger problems of the customers while the digital agents tackle simple queries.
To sum up, these are some of the ways one can revolutionize the fashion retail industry to make it smarter and more intelligent. Artificial intelligence gives the power to the machines to design, orchestrate and automate any industry by producing their magic wand with data thereby creating magic and a Midas touch to whatever they are applied to.
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