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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Are You Ready For The Driving Force In Brick And Mortar Retail?

You’ve probably read or heard about the concept of “Retail4.0” as it has certainly been making plenty of headlines lately. In a nutshell, it is the digitization of the physical retail experience. It’s integrating digitally driven data and smart technologies, such as the Internet of Things (Iot), throughout retail channels in an effort to streamline operations, improve engagement with customers, and ultimately move more product for maximum revenue.

This is the future of brick and mortar retail and it’s here right now. Breakthroughs in intelligent automation are finally bringing the best practices and possibilities that have driven e-commerce for decades into the physical world.  In fact, according to a recent study co-sponsored by the IBM Institute of Business Value and theNational Retail Federation (NRF), over 80 percent of executives in both retail and consumer products industries expect their companies to be using intelligent automation by 2021. Even more telling is the fact that 40% of these executives say their companies are already engaged in some form of intelligent automation.( AI revolution.pdf)

Another study, conducted by the International DataCorporation, predicts that retailers will spend an astonishing $5.9 billion on artificial intelligence solutions in 2019 alone. ( The numbers don’t lie. Brands and retailers are adopting data-driven intelligence and automation solutions at an astonishing pace, and things aren’t about to slow down. You certainly don’t have to be a statistics guru to forecast the future on this one –  if you’re a retail brand or a retail operator, the time is now to capitalize on intelligent data and begin implementing automated technologies across your field operations and in your stores. If you don’t move quickly, you run the risk of lagging behind and missing the window on this transformative new era of technological innovation.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

According to the National Retail Federation, here’s what’s on the automated horizon:

  • 85% of retail companies plan to be using intelligent automation for supply chain planning by 2021.
  • 79% of retail companies expect to be using intelligent automation for consumer intelligence by 2021.
  • Retail execs say intelligent automation capabilities could reduce operating costs by 7% and increase annual revenue growth by up to 10%.
  • Two out of five retailers and brands are already using some form of intelligent automation with that number expected to double by 2021.  

( AI revolution.pdf)

Why Things Will Never Be The Same

The adoption of AI and digitally-driven data is a complete game-changer for the retail industry. Whether you’re running a brand, operating store locations, or both, the advantages of AI extend to every area of your business, from field operations to staffing to marketing to inventory to forecasting to front-line customer engagement.

Automated intelligence gives you the power to see things far more clearly across your business by integrating data from different areas of your operations to maximize efficiency, manpower, time, and, of course, costs.

For example, imagine being able to quickly see what factors are impacting sales performance, how pricing and merchandising differences are driving value (or not), the quality and effectiveness of your team and3PLs/outsource contractors, and the impact that training knowledge retention is having on sales productivity.

Today, bits and pieces of siloed data are difficult to leverage – and, in many cases, this information is incomplete or only available at the end of the month. That’s just not good enough.


  • Knowing the data your reviewing is 100% accurate; free from human error; current and relevant to your specific sales and operations goals.
  • Capturing real-time, GPS-labeled photographs and in-store conditions from smart shelves and autonomous robots, so that you can see merchandise exactly how your customers see it.
  • Dramatically improving the in-store customer journey by ensuring your products, pricing, merchandise, and sale engagement are just as you planned.

These are all direct results of incorporating AI and digitally driven automation into brick and mortar retail operations. Data insights are fast becoming the new currency of brick and mortar retail because they empower brands and retailers to gauge sales and operations with a speed and agility that was never before possible. The right data delivers a deeper and more complete understanding of your brand, the conditions of each store, the performance of your employees, and the purchase behavior of your customers –most importantly, it does so supported by hard facts and defined variables relevant to your specific goals.

This leads to more informed and confident decisions that have a far greater likelihood of delivering the results you desire. With the right information, you’ll be able to make the right moves to drive performance, streamline operations and increase conversions – this is the transformative power AI and automation can bring to any retail business.

AI and intelligent data can dramatically impact every aspect of retail performance.

  • Supply chain planning
  • Demand forecasting
  • Field management
  • Merchandising/store appearance
  • Inventory management
  • Customer intelligence
  • Customer engagement
  • Store operations
  • Employee performance/compliance
  • Pricing & promotions
  • New product launch
  • Marketing/advertising

The Unique Challenges of High-Value Brands and Retailers

There’s no doubt that AI and digitally driven data are on the horizon for any brand or retailer that relies on assisted selling to move increasingly complex, higher value products. Whether it’s smartphones or tablets, audio and video components, home appliances, specialty products and services, or communications providers (e.g. wireless operators, cable companies and internet service providers), high-value products pose a number of unique challenges that intelligent insights are tailor made to answer.  

The Buying Experience

It’s only natural that when customers are spending more, they expect more. They expect people on the floor to be experts who understand the products. They expect venues to be exciting and interactive. They expect to touch, feel and experience the products first-hand, and they rarely expect to make a purchasing decision right away. Intelligent data insights give high-value brands and retailers unique views into their products, stores, employees, field management, and customers, so they can create and deliver an experience that will wow them.

New Product Launches

Data driven intelligence delivers actionable insights into sales readiness, pricing and merchandise compliance, and other critical factors, taking much of the guesswork out of launching new products and technologies.  

Competitive Intel

It’s critical for brands and retailers to maintain a keen awareness of the other players in their industries. Breakthroughs in AI and intelligent data capture provide critical insights, enabling faster and more flexible responses to competitive threats.  

Brand Experiences

Few retail categories depend more on positive brand experiences than high-value products. It’s not enough to be on the cutting edge, these brands must own leadership positions. They must look, feel, operate and deliver on their promises in ways that resonate with customers. Data-driven insights ensure you have the right products, pricing and promotional elements in place to support you customers’ purchase desires.  

Sales Conversions

Increasing conversion rates for high-value products requires every aspect of the sales equation to be on point. The clearer the data and insights are regarding areas such as employee training, merchandise compliance, pricing, in-store conditions, peak traffic times, and the customer journey, the easier it is to formulate the right course of action to maximize conversions.

Team Effectiveness

It takes a village to support the sales of high value products – brand ambassadors, 3PLs, field management, store personnel, executive management, and more. Keeping everyone on the same page, ensuring compliance, and quickly resolving issues are just a few of the puzzle pieces needed for success.  By unifying information and applying intelligence, you and your teams can see what’s working, what’s not, and how best to resolve issues.

Selecting The Right Intelligent Data Partner

How do you find the right partner to drive your data-driven programs? Start by understanding that real intelligent data capture goes well beyond the standard electronic forms used by many brands and retailers. While a key component of any solid program, standard forms can’t provide the breadth and quality of data needed to yield the most powerful, actionable, and reliable insights.   

That’s why it’s important to choose a partner committed to capturing and reporting data from additional sources, such as POS, foot traffic, environmental and demographic data, intelligent video, in-store sensors, autonomous robots and more.

It’s also important to understand that data volume is not what your ultimate goal should be from a partner. You should be looking for a company committed to understanding your unique needs and goals, and developing an intelligent data capture and automation solution around them – one that leverages industry best practices to deliver the data most relevant to your very specific sales and operations challenges. A data dump is never going to paint a clear picture of your retail business. However, having the right data, at the right time, in front of the right decision makers can make all the difference in the world.  

If you’d like to learn more about AI and intelligent data capture, how they’re revolutionizing the world of retail, and how your business can capitalize on the many advantages they bring, we invite you to explore solutions from Mobile Insight.

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Mobile Insight® is the only retail management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit