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AI Goes Offline! Improving Customer Experience Even Without Internet

Learn how AI can be used to provide a better customer experience in the offline mode

The pandemic has forced the retail sector to accelerate the pace of technology adoption. In 2021, a report by market research and advisory firm Forrester noted that India’s overall retail growth had shrunk for the first time amid lockdowns but it did not slow down the online retail sector which still grew at 5%, adding US$1.6 billion in sales. Srini Venkatesan, Executive Vice President of US Omni Tech at Walmart Global Tech, has seen the use of technology in retail up close. Customers are increasingly going to shop how, when, and where they want. It is important to focus on what customers want. The same AI that is used for personalization in online stores is also helping to offer personalized experiences in offline stores and understand what is needed in that store. But it doesn’t matter what the channel is.

When you think about machine learning traditionally you see the majority of this computation happening in a centralized cloud server with a lot of power behind it and when you aren’t using a pre-trained model it takes a ridiculously long time to return the inferencing results. A model needs to be “built” or “trained” on lots of training data, then it usually gets “deployed” for scoring, or inferencing, new data. A deep learning model usually requires GPUs and a lot of training data, and takes a long time to be built or “retrained,” even when only the last few layers are changing.

The gap between offline and online is blurring into an omnichannel experience. A store may not be a single point for customers to shop anymore and can be used for the fulfillment of orders too. AR is already being used in the retail backrooms for sorting products. One can point a phone in the backroom and it will use AR to highlight the case they are looking for. 

AI and machine learning play a vital role when it comes to meeting consumer demands in any geographical region. If the consumer demand is known, the retail business will know the amount of inventory that needs to be placed at the location. AI is also helping in the process of tracking and also tracking inventory. The retailers now have a lot of technologies for efficient payment reflow, route optimization, and planning. Another very important thing is multi-vendor negotiation where you want to assess the damage when the product was shipped. That is where Blockchain can help, not by managing inventory better, but by allowing for better smart contracts between suppliers and merchants and will help in the financial settlement.