According to the heads of a number of online retailers, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role in the future of the industry due to how it can be utilised to aid consumers in discovering new products and identifying what they want to buy.
The chief executive of Shop Direct, Alex Baldock, believes that AI could be the company's “big bet” as it will provide a significant advantage to the retailer when dealing with its customers. Baldock explained how the new technology could help its business during a panel discussing technology's role in business, saying: “You have three seconds to seize the shopper's attention – it's called thumb stopping, the three-second audition. That's where personalisation comes in.”
Adrian Blair, the chief executive of Just Eat, was also present on the panel and noted that his company takes 80 per cent of its orders on mobile devices. The company is utilising a host of other technologies to reach its customers including chatbots and artificial intelligence to recommend restaurants. Just Eat has also begun to take orders using Amazon Echo which allows customers to order via the web company's Bluetooth speaker.
Blair explained how technology makes Just Eat's business possible, saying: “Through technology we have made it unbelievably simple to order food, and have cut out the payment step. Those sorts of things point the way to the future, making things unbelievably easier for the customer, and more efficient for the provider.”
The company is also exploring the idea of using land-based drones to make deliveries in the UK that could deliver orders via roads. By inputting a unique code into the drone, the customers would gain access to their delivery.
The executive director of the industrial conglomerate Tata, Dr. David Landsman was also on the panel and highlighted the ways that automated manufacture was had improved its business, saying: “Once you can bring in the five digital forces – cloud computing, big data, social media, artificial intelligence, mobile – you can start looking at whole process and virtualise the whole factory, and work out what's going to happen before it does.”
Though true artificial intelligence isn't quite yet mainstream, many businesses have already acknowledged and adopted the technology in their day to day operations.
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