AI in retail is an inevitability – but premature adoption could hurt your business.

By Bev Strickland, Founder and Director of Strictlymarketing

At Strictlymarketing, we have started to experiment with Chat GPT in our office and I have to admit, I have come to this one reluctantly because of my concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) replacing people’s jobs and impairing our capacity to think for ourselves.

Which is one of the great benefits of having staff who are interested in tech, ready to embrace it and expect their workplaces to do the same. I have been pushed and I am much more impressed than I wanted or expected to be.

While the benefits of AI and chatbots such as ChatGPT, may not be immediately apparent to those working in the retail, AI is already showing the potential to revolutionise the sector.

The very well respected investment publication, The Motley Fool, published a piece on AI on retail where it stated retailers are increasingly “looking to artificial intelligence to gain advantages through cost management and learning more about how customers engage with their products”.

While it found AI was being used in retail, it was more behind the scenes rather than in bricks and mortar stores, though it’s influence is being felt there as well.

Motley Fool’s five examples of AI use in the retail sector now were for:
– Demand forecasting
– Recommendations
– Cashier-less technology
– Inventory management
– Customer sentiment analysis

Our team found, in a marketing context, a number of uses for ChatGPT, notably in generating ideas and prompts which can then be further developed in ways only human thinking can do.

We have started to use it to begin social media posts which are then tailored to client’s and their target demographic. It has been used to help craft responses to difficult emails and has been fantastic for new approaches to promotions and campaigns.

It all sounds great, but here is where I offer a word of caution to retailers looking to adopt AI platforms such as ChatGPT: make sure you know what you are doing first, because using it in the wrong ways could harm your business.

We have all seen TikTok and Facebook videos posted by people trying to use these platforms to promote engagement and just getting it wrong!

There is no doubt we need to continue to innovate as technology evolves and make sure we are keeping pace with our competitors, but we all know fools rush in.

People need to be cautious and see how these evolving and emerging technologies and platforms fit in with the business and how they can enhance the work being done rather than detract from it.

I firmly believe technology will never fully replace human creativity or that human connection people continue to seek in a world where many people feel isolated.

There will be a place for technology in the retail world of the future, just as there will continue to be a place people, their critical thinking, their empathy, their creativity, and their uniqueness.

We just need to make sure as business owners and operators, to get that balance right.

This is a great video looking at bad Facebook ads and breaking down why they are bad – so you can avoid making the same mistakes – is absolutely worth a watch for some tips.