In the technology-rich world of retail, organizations look to industry experts to guide decisions about which solutions are best for their business. Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle is one of the most trusted analyses of the retail tech sector, and Blue Yonder is delighted to feature four times this year.
One of the big talking points in Gartner’s 2017 Hype Cycle is how greater value can be extracted from technology through Artificial Intelligence (AI). The analyst notes that “the AI market is in a period of massive, accelerating and disruptive evolution”; this is being driven by the fact that companies like Blue Yonder are applying complex algorithms that enable retailers to run smarter.
This is a major contributing factor to Blue Yonder’s listing in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Retail Technologies 2017, which is a go-to guide for CIOs. Gartner notes that while 17% of retailers are yet to start designing their digital future, most organizations are putting plans in place, which include how to increase the value of the technology they are investing in.
AI is important in extracting this value, whether supporting the performance of machines or manpower. As the analyst comments, “smart machines are an emerging ‘super class’ of technologies that can perform a wide variety of work and add great value to business process. At other times, humans will interact with algorithms that are acting as a support mechanism for business users.”
While the capabilities and benefits of AI are broad ranging, Gartner has identified some specific areas where Machine Learning can add business value in its Gartner Hype Cycle for Back-Office Analytics Applications 2017.
The analyst rightly notes that algorithmic optimization gives retailers the power to improve and automate decision-making across retail’s seven core merchandising processes: assortment, allocation, replenishment, price, promotion and markdown.
Replenishment in particular is an area in which AI investment is growing quickly, and Gartner estimates that up to 50% of retailers have some form of algorithmic solution in place. The analyst lists Blue Yonder as a key partner that can help retailers innovate their replenishment solution.
Across the business, AI momentum is being driven by the fact that retailers are focused on improving on-shelf availability for their customers, something which is noted in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Customer Experience Analytics 2017 .
The analyst notes that enhancing CX is no small feat, as “the complexity of channels, processes and siloed departments, and the fragmentation of a customer's experience across multiple channels” make it more difficult than ever to provide relevant, contextual and personal encounters – all things that today’s customer now demands.
Another key area in which retailers are using AI to improve the customer experience is pricing, specifically making in-store pricing as dynamic as online, as discussed in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Commerce. Like replenishment, Gartner notes that retailers’ agile pricing capabilities are maturing rapidly, with the market likely to peak in the next 2-5 years.
The analyst also adds that retailers should look to technologies like Blue Yonder that can optimize their pricing model according to influences like changes in customer behavior and inventory availability, in order to improve their sales and margins.
As Gartner’s reports demonstrate, AI already has some powerful use cases in retail, and its continued adoption will see the business value of this intelligence grow over time. The result of this trend is that retailers have two choices: get to the front of the queue and move ahead of the market, or wait to follow the lead of their competitors and risk getting left behind.
Our advice? It’s always better to lead from the front.