5 Practical Steps to AI Success in Retail

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) technologies are transforming businesses. In fact, the global annual spending on AI by retailers is estimated to reach $7.3 billion by 2022. However, along with this growth comes hype, uncertainty and questions around what AI/ML can really do for retailers today. 

One thing, if anything, is certain: AI/ML in retail is here to stay. 

For those of us who have been in retail a long time know this isn’t the first time data science was used to address retail business challenges. In the early 2000s, data science was applied to common problems within retail merchandising and the supply chain with mixed success. Markdowns were optimized, followed by statistical forecast-driven replenishment, then price and transportation optimization.

Read More

Topics: artificial intelligence, inventory optimization, brick-and-mortar retail, physical stores, machine learning

Key Takeaways from Unified Retailing 2019

The Unified Retailing 2019 Conference hosted by Columbus Consulting yesterday was energizing, as it’s always a fun to meet up with our customers, old colleagues and friends. The speakers were excellent, with frank and interesting conversations around how to win in today’s new retail environment. However, what really struck me throughout the event was the fact that everyoneand I mean everyone—appeared to be dealing with the same type of challenges, such as:

  1. How to support an environment where store sales are dropping, e-commerce is flattening, and mobile continues to grow
  2. How to win in an environment where there are so many store closures, but just as many store openings from digitally-native brands
  3. How to support the shop anywhereexperience consumers demand
  4. How to keep product, experiences and services relevant 

As every speaker discussed different strategies to address each issue, it became apparent over the course of the day these problems haven’t really changed over the last few years. In fact, they’ve only magnified. Despite these struggles, it only solidified my beliefand that of many others in the room—of the following:

If you want to be relevant, you must consider the customer and their preferences first in everything you do.  

Read More

Topics: artificial intelligence, inventory optimization, brick-and-mortar retail, physical stores, machine learning, awards

Lucky Brand's Approach to Successful Merchandise Allocation

The idea behind inventory allocation seems pretty straight-forward: Ensure stores are kept in stock with respect to their ability to sell merchandise. Simple enough, right? Yet, as an allocator, one end-of-season scenario you’re likely familiar with is the aching realization of a missed opportunity — where better inventory allocations in one store could have led to more transactions, fewer markdowns, and improved margins.

Of course, you and I both know the subtle art to successful allocation is far from simple. In fact, a recent U.S. retailer survey estimated inventory misjudgments, including misallocating inventory, account for more than half (53%) of unplanned markdown costs. This issue has prompted retailers, like Lucky Brand, to search for ways to infuse intelligence into their allocation systems and processes.

Mike Relich, COO of Lucky Brand, recently shared his experience leveraging Celect artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) software to successfully improve retail allocation results. 

Here are the five biggest takeaways:

Read More

Topics: allocation, artificial intelligence, inventory optimization, brick-and-mortar retail, physical stores, machine learning, merchandise assortment

The Flux Capacitor of Retail

What if you could travel into the future?

In the 1980s sci-fi classic trilogy, Back to the Future, Marty McFly brings back from the future the Sport's Almanac, a compilation of sports statistics and scores, with the intention of gambling his fortune on games with a 100% accuracy. 

What if you could fast-forward to next season? What would you bring?

If I had to guess, as a merchant, you’d probably gather all of the transactions across each store. With that knowledge, you could make the best use of inventory by knowing exactly where each product was going to sell.  

If only it were as easy as time travel. While nothing will be as easy as time travel, it can get pretty close with advanced analytics.

Here's why advanced analytics is the flux capacitor of retail. 

Read More

Topics: allocation, merchandise planning, fulfillment, brick-and-mortar retail, machine learning, advanced analytics, merchandise buy, demand prediction

Why the Biggest Problem with AI is Human

Every brand in retail is talking about AI. We’ve read the reports, the articles, and the survey results about all the different pain points AI can solve for retailers. From all the chatter around groundbreaking innovations and the changing retail industry, brands understand this need for technology in order to adapt. 

And there isn’t a shortage of technology solutions out there either—retailers have a ton of options. 

Understanding this need, the need for tech, then why is it so difficult to actually adopt? Why are retailers still struggling to keep margins afloat and adapt to the digital consumer? 

What’s the biggest problem with AI in retail?

Read More

Topics: artificial intelligence, inventory optimization, machine learning, data, advanced analytics, digital transformation

Ready for more?

Request a Demo