Even in 2021, artificial intelligence (AI) still feels like an emerging technology. Retailers tend to see AI as an abstract concept rather than a technology that can add real value to their business. For some, AI is too “magic” to be practical.
But AI-powered applications have gone mainstream. And there are solutions designed specifically for retailers that give them an edge over their competitors. Adoption remains low, and the problem is that there are gaps in our understanding of how AI can help.
Gartner predicts that AI will generate $2.9 trillion in business value in 2021. McKinsey predicts that the leader in AI adoption will see cash flow increase by 122% by 2030, while non-adopters will see it decrease by 23%.
These are big numbers, but they may not be relevant to your business. The first step is to demystify the value of AI to your business. Let’s start by addressing and clearing up three common misconceptions.
AI is impractical
Artificial Intelligence includes various technologies that collect, process and analyze data. Although the use of AI is considered “air force,” the technology is used in diverse and practical ways across industries. Consider Amazon. This online giant analyzes your searches and purchases to make near-perfect recommendations for other items you typically put in your shopping cart. AI-powered tools are also used for daily shipment tracking and product delivery. They take pictures of the cargo to identify any damage. Improve the accuracy of demand forecast. AI can also analyze supplier data and make performance-based recommendations.
For retailers, AI can play a key role in fulfillment center automation. AI can alert managers to rotate inventory or promote fresh produce to reduce waste. It also helps ensure that products get from point A to point B on time every time.
AI enables B2B sales teams to provide accurate upsell or cross-sell forecasts and alert sales reps when a particular customer needs to backorder a product or may find a replacement so you can make more sales. An AI-powered sales platform built for high-SKU catalogs can tell your team what customers are buying and when. This ensures that sales staff can always get in touch with customers quickly.
AI doesn’t work in sales
Artificial intelligence works with vast amounts of data. The more data, the more intelligent the solution. Fortunately, the distribution industry is not short of data. Merchants have multiple channels that generate data, from customer purchases and product information to vendor details, website searches, and everything in between. AI takes all the data from these separate silos and centralizes it.
AI connects the dots for traders. Generate product recommendations based on data collected across all retail sales channels. Reseller customer service teams and sales reps can use these insights to make smarter sales calls and convert more sales calls into sales. AI empowers sales reps and customer service reps to become active order builders.
AI also makes sales reps more efficient. AI is ready to transform a retailer’s CRM. The right AI-powered solution can help teams streamline the sales process and give managers visibility into the sales pipeline, ultimately increasing conversions and increasing sales to existing customers. For example, instead of manually logging calls, searching for product information, or taking notes, AI can direct employees to the most noteworthy opportunities. The conversation starts with “Do you need anything?” to “I noticed that you are purchasing line from us, but have never purchased a line vendor. May I send you information about some of your products?”
Data too messy for AI to work
AI is not only great at processing big data, but it’s also great at deconstructing and interpreting messy data. AI makes noisy data available. This is done through deep learning.
When machines can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. Distributors will no longer have to worry about messy or duplicated data, but will instead be able to use AI to make sense of the information. That’s what works best.
AI can and will continue to benefit sellers in very practical ways. Data is he one of the most valuable resources. The right tools can bring together the messy, siled data about your customers, suppliers, products, and transactions. AI can help predict the future by looking back at the past. Instead of fearing AI, it’s time to embrace it and gain an edge over your competitors. The faster you do this, the better your skills will be and the better you will be ahead of your competitors.