- CB Insights released a report on technology trends in retail, highlighting movers and shakers like Walmart and Amazon and showing that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are much more than buzzwords, and AI is the big trend to watch.
- The report also noted AI commerce equity funding has risen sharply since 2013, cumulating in $1.26 billion in deals through 2017.
- Mergers and acquisitions will also be a big theme in retail in the near future, as e-commerce giants such as Alibaba, Amazon and Walmart snap up tech-savvy startups specializing in AI and automation.
Confronting supply chain problems is increasingly necessary for retailers to maintain relevancy, but the retailers who straighten out their supply chains and use new tech to better gauge and meet consumer expectations will dominate the industry.
That's where AI comes in.
As demonstrated by the CB Insights report, AI can learn from consumer habits in an online store and better predict and target what the consumer wants, allowing the retailer to more effectively market and handle inventory.
If meeting consumer expectations is a retailers' biggest problem, then understanding consumer behavior through AI is the way to solve it.
That's why companies like Amazon and Walmart are so successful. It's not only because they have strong online presences or because brick-and-mortar retail is "going away."
It's also because Amazon and Walmart are manipulating AI machine learning to optimize inventory and automate checkouts in brick-and-mortar locations. According to CB Insights' study of Walmart, AI "supports omnichannel growth," which is what every retailer is fighting to figure out right now, because that's the secret to retaining customers.
If retailers want to survive, adjusting their supply chains to actually understand and then meet consumer expectations is paramount — but in order to do that, greater investment and leveraging of AI is necessary.