How AI and cross-industry intelligence will power the digital retail experience in 2020


All around the world, retailers are adopting AI solutions.

In fact, by 2022, they’re expected to spend an estimated $7.3 billion using AI to better serve their customers. One of the major catalysts driving this massive investment is consumers’ growing expectation for personalized experiences. Underscoring the point, today, 76 percent of customers expect companies to understand their specific needs and expectations, and to adapt accordingly. If you’re a retailer looking to meet that expectation at scale, you need to ensure that AI is at the center of your personalization strategy.


AI has been used for relevancy, and personalized recommendation in e-Commerce for over a decade, and is being increasingly adopted in the retail space as well. AI based engines really enable scaled, differentiated and personalized experience by connecting dots across customers and products and services.

— Nitin Verma, VP Digital | Staples


The good news is that for a growing number of retailers that’s already the case. Many in the industry are evolving from mass marketing to micro targeting, for example, thus allowing them to create more personalized experiences. They’re also becoming more relevant by providing everything from personalized recommendations and promotions to specialized pricing and delivery options, thus dramatically changing online shopping experiences.

As we’ll see, the next step in the journey is bringing all of this AI-enabled personalization together to systematically increase conversion rates. Given the uncertainty of today’s business landscape paired with consumers moving online to make purchases, it’s absolutely critical that enterprises dig deep to differentiate their digital experience.

How AI brings value to the digital retail experience

While there are many ways that AI can help optimize the retail industry, personalization is certainly one of the most important. It can help connect the dots between what you know about your customers and what you can offer them with your products and services.

When you make that critical connection, you can use AI systems to help you not only determine who to focus on (i.e., who your next best customer is), but also at what moment in their journey that customer is likeliest to make a purchasing decision. Plus, AI can help you determine what offers you can serve up to help ensure that they take a desired action. Armed with these insights, retailers can deliver the right experiences to the right visitors coming to their website at just the right time, thus increasing conversion rates.

Unpacking how AI can optimize conversions

To figure out which customers to focus on at which points in their journey, and with what offers, it’s important to use machine learning to analyze de-identified online behavior patterns that are coupled with cross-industry intelligence. By combining first-party data with insights sourced from other industries, it’s possible to predict in real time which visitors to your website are on the fence about making a purchase. From there, you can also predict what offer (a discount, free shipping, loyalty points, etc.) will resonate most with that visitor and get them to convert.

The key to this very customer-centric approach to conversion is creating moments of impact where you’re not just offering any old customer a random incentive. Instead, it’s about targeting those who are undecided with an incentive that they actually care about and that could be just the nudge they need to move forward and make a purchase.

To examine this topic in more detail, we recently hosted a webinar with our Director of Customer Success & Implementation, Shilpa Mandhan, and Staples’ VP of Digital Solutions, Nitin Verma. Together, they looked at how AI and cross-industry intelligence are reshaping the digital retail experience. In addition to outlining some of the high-level trends around AI in retail, they examined how retailers can use AI to improve their customer conversion rates while also protecting customer privacy and increasing customer trust. 

To learn more, check out the full webinar here.


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