AI in Retail - People Led, Technology Enabled
Whilst the finance industry has long invested in tech, we are seeing interesting trends emerge within the retail sector that are creating exciting opportunities for IT professionals. Driven by the evolution of consumer preferences and fierce competition, the retail industry is heavily investing in cutting edge technology to disrupt and enhance the three critical areas of: customer experience, supply chain and new channels and revenue streams. With talent required to elevate the shopping experience and drive value through the business, we see opportunities increasing exponentially.
As e-commerce becomes a norm in Hong Kong, we are seeing heavy investment in ensuring the brand and customer experience on and offline is consistent and that delivery logistics are seamless. Real time inventory checking, for example, provides customers with information on collection locations, methods and lead times to support the purchasing decision.
Customer experience remains a key differentiator in retail. Technology advances to support self-service checkout, fast and safe payment systems, same day delivery and real-time customer support are becoming standard. The next step in customer experience is personalisation. Smart recommendations for preferred goods and tailor-made promotion programmes are being offered by the more technologically advanced retailers, while Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to support virtual fittings is on the horizon.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also moving away from being an abstract concept to delivering concrete insights. Within such a data driven industry as retail, it's not surprising that AI is a growing trend - utilised to identify potential customers, automate the digital marketing process, digitise and deliver marketing materials. To support sales, we are seeing chatbots incorporated to e-commerce platforms which enable 24 hours customer support, driving what is becoming known as a new era of conversational commerce. Chatbots can automate the order process whilst robotic processes automate supply chain and inventory handling. AI systems also enable natural language learning and voice input. Platforms like Google, Siri and Alexa are the most prominent voice systems able to answer customer queries and provide new ways to shop, linked to their own and their partner manufacturers. Customers simply ask for a product with a budget and preferred location and their virtual assistant can make instant purchases. Within tech, these developments represent hot new development skillsets.
We are seeing a growing demand and budget for IT professionals able to support tech project investments across all the largest global, regional and local FMCGs and retailers. As organisations realise the benefit of implementing AI, we are seeing hiring at all levels of experience. Senior level AI leadership and transformation leadership; mid-level retail e-commerce project management; and junior developers are all being sought as organisations try to seize the competitive window of opportunity.
IT professionals are welcome to contact me to discuss the latest market opportunities.