Matt Buskell writes for AI Expert Calum Chace: Putting the AI in retail

Monday 18 September 2017


Matt Buskell, head of customer engagement at Rainbird, contributes to Pandora’s Brain, a blog by author, speaker and leading expert in AI, Calum Chace.

In this article, Matt explores the impact that AI could have in the online retail sector, and how a ‘back to the future’ approach of AI-powered, tailored recommendations could benefit not just companies, but consumers too.

There was a time when booking a holiday meant a single trip to the high street travel agent. Nowadays, the process of online research seems to take longer than the holiday itself. The difference, back then, was the travel agent – a human being who could look you up and down, talk to you about your preferences, and make a recommendation based on their judgement.

In the world of AI, we like to call this ‘inference’. Travel agents never asked any questions like the filters and features you find on travel websites today – location, price range, number of stars. Nothing. Instead, they inferred what we would like, basing their judgement on factors such as how we were dressed, what we liked to do, and how we spoke to them.

The average time spent researching holidays in 1997 was just 45 minutes. Now, it’s over eight hours.

The pattern is the same with other retail sectors that have moved online – from books, to groceries, music, clothing, and even cars. Hours are whittled away on websites like ASOS, TripAdvisor and Amazon. Imagine walking into a real-life store, asking the assistant for advice, and being handed a mountain of products and reviews to spend the next few hours scouring through. You’d probably just walk straight back out. So why do we settle for it online?

To continue reading this post, head over to Calum’s blog, Pandora’s Brain, here.