Thanks to the strong strength and influence of Alibaba, JD, etc. in the whole country and even in the world, the retail industry has become one of the industries with the most sensitive sense of new technology. It can often make the fastest response according to the iteration of the market, and actively use new technology, which makes the scientific and technological revolution of the retail industry wave after wave.

Can AI create a new retail world

New technology full armed

Traditional shopping methods and e-commerce have long been unable to meet people’s new consumption needs. With the rapid development of science and technology, it has been widely used. New technologies composed of big data, cloud computing, the Internet of things, virtual reality (VR) and so on play an important role in the new retail, which makes the retail industry change dramatically and brings people an unprecedented shopping experience 。 It can be said that the essence of new retail revolution is the revolution of new retail technology.

Big data is responsible for collecting and analyzing consumer behavior information, providing basic support for reverse customization of enterprises and precise marketing of retailers; cloud computing breaks the data island between various outlets, and provides cheap scheme design and solution capabilities for manufacturing end and supply chain output; the Internet of things forms rapid linkage and cooperation between offline outlets and offline and online outlets, and facilitates the production end and online outlets The seamless connection and continuous refutation of the sales end and the logistics end; VR multi-dimensional creation of consumption scenarios and realistic virtual experience, to speed up the rapid formation of online purchase decisions.

At the same time, from the adoption of POS, barcode, embedded RFID and other technologies to the application of 3D and robot, as well as the reconstruction of e-commerce hot and o2o mode, the retail industry has been good at applying various new technologies to various applications and demands.

In fact, all these new technologies are centered on one core, that is, AI Artificial Intelligence, which runs through all technologies with “intellectualization”. All technologies take realizing and serving “intellectualization” as the ultimate goal, and together help to achieve the “new retail” goal.

IDC predicted that AI is expected to become the focus of new retail development in the next 10 years or even longer; the rapid development of AI has implanted an intelligent “brain” into the retail industry; intelligence will become the main direction and decisive field of retail industry transformation and upgrading.

Artificial intelligence will effectively replace part of the labor in production, supply and distribution. Goldman Sachs forecasts that AI will save the global retail industry $54 billion in cost by 2025, and generate $41 billion in new revenue over the same period. CIC consultants believe that this is still a relatively low estimate. In the future, AI will bring more profits and benefits to the retail industry. In 2016, Jingdong’s customer service robot Jimi alone saved hundreds of millions of yuan a year.

Artificial intelligence landing and flowering

At present, there are many scenarios for AI to land in the retail industry, including intelligent unmanned stores, intelligent warehousing and logistics, intelligent marketing and experience, intelligent customer service and intelligent virtual experience.

1. Smart store

In these five parts, the unmanned intelligent store is the main field of AI exploration in the industry, and it is the integrated embodiment of AI technology comprehensive application. Amazon is the ancestor of the unattended convenience store. Its solution is based on RFID technology. RFID tags are pasted on each product for automatic checkout and collection. In addition, it is equipped with monitoring system, remote customer service, voice intelligence, etc. in the future, it will also carry more face recognition technology, motion recognition and anti-theft system, dynamic shelves and intelligent commodity identification technology, creating a retail industry An unprecedented era of no man. Half a year after the launch of Amazon’s unmanned offline supermarket, the domestic unmanned convenience stores also ushered in a period of collective outbreak. From Alibaba’s “coffee shopping” to binguobox’s convenience store, to F5’s future store, as well as Wahaha, Yili and other convenience micro stores to be launched, even the traditional retail manufacturers Shanghai RT mart and Auchan transformation have launched the model of unmanned retail. No one retails in the country can be described as ups and downs, wave after wave.

In addition to unmanned retail, smart stores also include the introduction of AI into the traditional retail industry to promote comprehensive innovation of their own operation mode.

Fujian chain convenience store leader Jianfu convenience store cooperated with Microsoft CRM to launch face recognition payment system and open a new era of intelligent retail. The CRM face recognition system is divided into four steps:

The first step is that when customers enter the convenience store, they are immediately locked by the face recognition system, and a big data group with customers as the core will be formed silently; the second step is that when customers purchase, they analyze their preferences for commodities by making a hot spot map with fish eyes; the third step is that when they pay, the camera on the cash register will recognize the customers’ faces, and the POS machine will let them “face ID” Linked with consumer behavior; step 4: Microsoft azure technology can achieve 12 facial dimension data, judge the age and expression of the customer, check out the customer, and show “happiness, anger, sadness and joy” of the expression to understand the customer’s satisfaction with shopping, so as to adjust the strategy of providing goods and services next time.

It can be predicted that in the future, the intelligent retail store can realize the full intelligent independent shopping of customers’ entering, purchasing and leaving. After the customer enters the store, the camera in the store immediately identifies the customer. Through the sensors and cameras throughout the store, as well as various information recognition devices, the product can be removed from the shelf or put back. After the product is put into the shopping basket, it will automatically generate accumulation. The customer leaves the store directly without the settlement link, and the transaction can be automatically completed by brushing the face + a payment gesture.

2. Intelligent storage and logistics

Intelligent warehousing is also an important scenario for AI to enter the retail industry. Once again, RFID is used as the physical carrier of product electronic code (EPC), attached to traceable items, which can be globally circulated, identified, read and written, and assist in warehousing, sorting and inventory. Through RFID, robots and so on, Amazon, Alibaba and Jingdong have implemented the unmanned sorting system. All goods are identified by RFID and sorted by machines. After sorting, they are packed on the conveyor belt, then delivered, and finally counted and settled at any time. At the same time, new technologies such as big data, robot, RFID and Internet of things can be used to realize automatic prediction, purchase, replenishment and warehouse division, and adjust the precise delivery of inventory according to customer demand, so as to carry out automatic and precise management of massive commodity inventory. For example, Amazon’s new “driverless” intelligent supply chain can achieve such a high level of efficiency.

It is the limit for a skilled purchasing and marketing personnel to face 100 SKUs (inventory units). For tens of millions of SKU categories such as FMCG and books, the purchasing and marketing with manpower will cause extremely huge teams and costs. In the past, this kind of work used to require hundreds of purchasing and marketing personnel. However, at present, JD manages hundreds of thousands of SKUs with only 12 book purchasing and marketing personnel, which can greatly improve efficiency, realize automatic management of selection, planning, pricing and inventory, match demand to the nearest warehouse to consumers, minimize inter regional transfer and intra regional transfer, and optimize transfer To minimize the allocation cost.

In addition, AI has a wide range of roles and space in optimizing the supply chain at the back end. In the past, when purchasing fruits, it was necessary to send many people to investigate the fruit farmers, understand the output, and place an order based on the in store sales data. Now, using AI related technology, we can successfully connect planting data, weather data, automobile traffic data and store sales data, and the system can realize the optimization of product mix, automatic purchase, and automatic delivery and automatic sales of logistics department after purchasing.

3. Intelligent customer service

In the new retail field, the role of personalized intelligent customer service is indispensable. The application of intelligent customer service reduces the workload of artificial customer service and improves the efficiency of problem solving. In the past, intelligent customer service was used to solve the inquiries and complaints from customers to the company, only supporting manual and text replies. Now through robot assisted manual collaboration, it can face tens of millions of consumers and businesses at the same time, with advanced natural language processing ability and deep learning technology, such as one button switching users, without mouse operation, when the seat replies to the message, input keywords, it will automatically retrieve common sense database and commonly used language alternative answers, and improve reception efficiency by 2-3 times. Intelligent customer service can also reply to more complex related questions, provide services such as order modification, return and refund, customize personalized product recommendation according to customer information, improve shopping experience and flow conversion, and realize customer service in the new retail era.

Last March, Alibaba officially released the intelligent service robot “dianxiaomi”, which is an artificial intelligence customer service for tens of millions of Taobao businesses. Businesses can replace part of customer service with store honey, so as to reduce the workload of manual customer service. During the “double 11” period in 2016, Xiaomi invited several tmall flagship stores to participate in the internal test. Finally, it received nearly one million consumers in one day, saving nearly half of the service manpower. In 2017, the reception volume of “double 11” exceeded 3 million. In 2016, store Xiaomi was mainly to solve the problems consumers encountered in refund, disputes and other aspects, providing users with a way to solve the problems immediately, while in 2017, store Xiaomi was more like the user’s personal assistant, such as doing personal shopping guide, which brought new value to users.

For offline stores, intelligent customer service has also made a new leap. With the rapid development of recognition equipment and sensing equipment (such as pick-up product sensing, consumer walking mobile sensing), voice shopping guide or robot shopping guide will appear in the future, which is also the reason why many businesses have introduced intelligent voice speakers (Amazon echo, dingdong speakers). These speakers will have deep learning function in the future, and can use artificial intelligence for voice interaction, which will replace offline shopping guide customer service in the future.

4. Intelligent store opening prediction and marketing decision

What else can AI do in retail? For example, what role can it play in store location and promotion?

Where to open a new store, how big to open, how many people can be covered, how many things can be sold, etc. in the past, the retail industry relied on human experience to make decisions, often with half the effort. But in today’s high-tech AI information age, these can make prediction decisions through precise machine algorithms, and this prediction ability can subvert the traditional operation mode in the retail industry, and generate greater business profits.

For example, if you want to open a coffee shop, you need to know how many coffee shops are nearby, how many consumers are there, how many of them are target groups, and how to connect the features of the ground with the characteristics of the crowd. Limited by the traditional analysis model, the previous decision-making model can only add a small number of indicators, but now using machine learning can analyze more than 200 indicators at the same time, complete the analysis of multiple indicators and the complex relationship between them, and achieve the things that the traditional method can not achieve, not only has the quantitative improvement, but also has the qualitative leap. In the United States, a prediction model based on machine learning, intelligent algorithm mechanism can handle the comprehensive evaluation of business data of 11 cities, tens of millions of POI geographic location data, as well as population, transportation, housing prices, consumption, etc., flash high-speed computing one by one on the system screen. In addition to getting the law of real situation from a large number of data, artificial intelligence can also use the random forest model to predict the unknown data, and calculate the forecast values of interest to retailers, such as customer group size, potential sales, etc.

In addition to intelligent prediction, artificial intelligence can also play an unprecedented role in the accurate promotion of current products, such as which products will sell well and how many products to prepare for the year-end promotion plan. By using artificial intelligence, we can realize intelligent selection of products, intelligent diagnosis of current category structure, optimization of category resource allocation, and intelligent management of the whole life cycle, such as automatic division of commodity roles, new product mining, elimination of old products. At the same time, we can better predict the stock volume and effectively reduce inventory through historical achievements, activity promotion, holiday days, commodity characteristics and other data. In e-commerce, JD has used data to predict how much a single commodity can be sold in the next 28 days, and put the commodity in the warehouse in advance to wait for users to buy it. Moreover, to achieve personalized and accurate recommendation, the machine judges the preferences of customers according to the online behaviors such as customer browsing track and purchase record, recommends the potential demand commodities to them, improves the matching between customer demand and commodity supply, so as to improve the volume of transactions.

5. Intelligent shopping experience

Many brands can’t directly display their complex content and characteristics. Relying on traditional presentation methods such as TV, radio, outdoor, magazine or Internet, they can’t inspire consumers’ desire and can’t achieve the purpose of advertising. However, if VR technology is adopted, it can be displayed to consumers directly and automatically. For example, explain complex technology to potential customers and introduce manufacturing process, or experience the origin and production line of products directly and remotely. At the same time, it also brings unprecedented, almost real life personalized shopping experience for e-commerce.

In 2016, Alibaba announced the establishment of VR laboratory, released the “buy +” plan, and comprehensively distributed VR. “Buy +” is to build a real shopping scene in different places to the greatest extent through VR technology, so as to realize “buying the world at home”.

With “buy +”, even if you are at home in a city in China, consumers wear VR glasses and enter the VR version of Taobao, you can choose to go to the Fifth Avenue in New York, or you can choose the British retro market, where you can go shopping and “buy around the world”. In short, consumers can directly interact with people and things in the virtual world, and even virtualize the scene in real life to become an interactive commodity. For example, when choosing a sofa, consumers no longer need to tangle up because they are not sure about the size of the sofa. Wearing VR glasses, they can directly “put” the sofa at home and see at a glance whether the size and color are appropriate.

“Buy +” can greatly increase the reality of online products. For example, when you go to buy underwear for your girlfriend, you don’t need to be embarrassed anymore. You can wear VR glasses and enter the VR version of Taobao. You can directly check the details of underwear and even the upper body effect of underwear. Through these virtual technologies, you can have surprises and experiences that are not available in the physical store, and complete a super cool and wonderful virtual try on and shopping experience.

At present, many AI have been integrated into VR technology to realize system data exchange, and through VR to create interactive three-dimensional shopping scenes, to achieve unprecedented strong virtual experience and realistic immersive experience, so that consumers can easily have close interaction with products and brands at zero distance, making consumers’ shopping behavior more impulsive than ever.

AI will create a new retail empire in the future. Are you ready?

Of course, technology is not omnipotent, AI is not omnipotent, and it is not a panacea to solve the current retail problems. Only by catering to the real needs of consumers, taking serving consumers as the core, starting from the essence of the retail industry, and accelerating the resolution of industry pain points through various channels, can the effective transformation of the whole business form be realized and tens of thousands of consumers really benefit.

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