Next Year? AI is a Retailer’s Lifeline

Next Year? AI is a Retailer’s Lifeline

Retailers faced a broad array of challenges this past year. What will they face next year? Does it really matter?

If recent events have taught us anything, it’s way past time to harden your business, use every tool available to tune your supply chain operations, and truly become a demand-driven enterprise.

So how do you do that? Your philosophical mission is to sell the demand-driven concept to internal and external partners. For starters, continuously evangelize those concepts to every member of your team, and externally to your suppliers, carriers, and logistics solutions providers. Looking back over recent months, it is clear that internal or external, your success is their success, their buy-in means growth for you all.

There is a new tool that can help in that journey: low-cost artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. AI applications are transforming many business sectors. But in terms of amping a demand-driven supply chain, retailers, as well as their suppliers, can benefit most by understanding and predicting consumer sentiment with the leanest inventory investment and smoothest, fastest fulfillment.

Using AI lights up opportunities to improve efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction, and extract every ounce of undiscovered profitability through improved and automated inventory management and demand forecasting, better predictions of consumer behavior, finer targeted marketing and merchandising programs, more attractive pricing models, and enhanced worker efficiency.

There are AI speed bumps though. Many companies, especially small and mid-sized enterprises, can be hesitant to adopt AI due to its newness and perceived high cost of implementation. However, a number of low-cost AI solutions can help retailers of any size benefit from AI efficiencies.

Here  are 5 examples:

1. Cloud-based AI delivers powerful tools without hardware or software investments.
2. Open-source AI provides a lower-cost way to deploy AI applications. But you’ll need a skilled in-house IT team or consultant.
3. SaaS AI apps for inventory management can right-size your spend.
4. Online consumer buying recommendations using data-driven product matching and chatbots can help build bigger orders.
5. Use your carriers, forwarders, and 3PLs for AI implementations. They can amortize the cost of AI investment across their customer base, which democratizes the benefits.

Many retailers are already investing in artificial intelligence to stay competitive. Many more should.