Editor's note: This piece is a guest article from Riad Hijal who serves as the global head of commerce solution management and strategy for SAP.
As Black Friday looms, retailers are evaluating their strategies to capture shoppers’ attention and meet business goals.
At the forefront of this evolution is the adoption of AI, which enables brands to offer more personalized shopping experiences, better predict customer behavior, optimize inventory and fulfillment processes, and streamline overall retail operations to provide customers with the best possible shopping experience during the holiday rush.
AI can analyze vast amounts of customer data to help businesses understand consumer preferences and generate automated suggestions for a more personalized omnichannel experience.
Personalization — like targeted product recommendations, offers and discounts — improves the overall shopping experience for customers during busy periods like Black Friday.
Over half of U.S. consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that utilizes AI for a more seamless user experience, a recent study conducted by SAP Emarsys found.
One in three consumers in the U.S. believe that AI is having a positive impact on their current experience because it makes shopping easier. This data confirms the growing adoption and acceptance of AI in the retail sector and suggests that brands that use AI could see improved customer satisfaction and loyalty this Black Friday and beyond.
AI can optimize inventory, ensuring a smooth online shopping experience
Holiday shopping can be a stressful time for consumers and a single bad experience — like incorrect information online or shipping delays — can cause a brand to lose a customer for life.
That’s why in peak retail seasons, real-time visibility into inventory is critical to ensuring customers have a crystal-clear view of how many items are in stock. AI digital assistants can rapidly and precisely analyze many years of sales and market data to predict which items will be snapped up faster by customers and which may need discounts or incentives to move off shelves.
AI digital assistants can also improve retailers’ product catalogs by extracting and enriching product tags, helping to increase product visibility and discoverability by customers.
Precise product categorization is a competitive advantage — particularly around Black Friday when consumers are making purchases on a deadline — as it improves search functionality and the overall user experience, leading to greater customer satisfaction.
Businesses can unlock customer loyalty with rich data and AI-powered insights
Successful retailers know that achieving customer loyalty is about meeting customers where they are.
In high-pressure moments like Black Friday, it’s important that retailers ensure the right method of support is provided to each customer depending on their preferences. That’s where AI can supercharge efforts, making data-based recommendations on how best to serve the customer to ensure loyalty.
Take, for example, a customer who reaches out online. By taking into account a customer’s behavior patterns, purchasing history and generation, these assistants can help retailers determine the optimal range of options that should be presented first, whether it’s for recommended products, online chat or phone support, or method of product returns.
Retailers can use consumers’ data to enhance their shopping experience in other ways, too: through personalized recommendations and promotions, streamlined checkout processes, shortened delivery times, tailored search results, digital shopping assistants and virtual smart dressing rooms.
Rich, high-quality data is a must for this level of personalization. However, it’s critical that as brands collect and use personal data, they do so ethically and transparently.