Machine learning is the future of retail - emphasis on future

We're not quite there yet.

For long, retailers relied on their gut feeling and hunches to make key business decisions. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. However, it now seems as more and more retailers are turning towards new technologies to help them make crucial decisions, and it pays dividends. 

According to a new report by Blue Yonder, machine-learning and automated decision-making are making a difference. Out of 750 grocery retailers across the globe, which were polled for the report, 85 per cent of UK-based ones said automation helps them decide faster.  Robotics seems to be the technology with the biggest impact – more than two thirds (69 per cent) said robotics will change the industry, with 31 per cent saying it already did.  

More than three quarters (77 per cent) said machine learning will make an impact, with a quarter (23 per cent) said it already did.  Despite the new technology having such a positive image among business decision-makers, investment has still not hit optimal levels. Less than four in ten (38 per cent) have invested in automation in the last two years, and 37 per cent plan investing in the next two years.  

“Retailers need to stop looking at data as an abstract object and look at is as a lever to create marginal gains through having the best price, best choice and best availability, which historically has always been impossible, until today,” said Professor Feindt, founder of Blue Yonder. 

“Where retailers once relied on making decisions manually, there has always been a limit to the number of decisions they are able to make and the level of accuracy and efficiency. Automated decision- making based on predictions can reflect both brand and trading KPI's at store level on a daily basis.”

Image source: Shutterstock/Maxx-Studio