Brennan Whitfield | Mar 30, 2023

The robots are taking over — your local shopping district.

Artificial intelligence is transforming retail and e-commerce through purchasing recommendations, voice-enabled shopping assistants, personalized shopping experiences, robotic warehouse pickers, facial recognition payment methods, anti-counterfeit tools and more.

As of 2022, PwC reports that 71 percent of business leaders have integrated widespread or limited adoption of artificial intelligence into their company operations, and this number only appears to continue growing based on market estimates.


How Does AI in Retail Work?

AI enhances experiences for both customers and businesses, especially in the areas of retail and e-commerce. By collecting gobs of consumer data and feeding them into machine learning algorithms, retailers are able to spin up sophisticated, AI-powered personalization, recommendation and automation features, all of which have become commonplace throughout the shopping experience. These features simultaneously speed up operations and improve customer interactions, which increase revenue and resources for companies. 


What Does AI in Retail Look Like?

Technology like chatbots — the non-human customer service beings trained to engage in human-like exchanges online — are just the start of AI in retail.

Well-established AI voice recognition programs like Amazon’s Alexa are being integrated with other devices like Amazon’s Fire TV. AI algorithms help companies analyze massive amounts of data culled from consumers’ online behavior to provide “predictive sales” insights that are used in part to make sure warehouses are strategically well-stocked.

Those warehouses, by the way, might use robots for sorting, packaging and other manual tasks so human workers can focus on other aspects of the business. Then there are recommendation engines that analyze past searches to suggest related products and services, AI-powered visual recognition programs that help prevent counterfeiting and AI copywriters that churn out SEO content for websites. The list goes on.

Check out these 16 ways in which artificial intelligence is reinvigorating retail and e-commerce.


16 Examples of AI in Retail and E-Commerce

Anaplan’s Predictive Intelligence Platform

Combining analytics and big data, The Anaplan Platform helps retailers keep current customers and find new ones. Employing real-time scouring of websites, social media and other places, the company applies predictive data toward customer recommendations and forecast business outcomes. 

Anaplan’s predictive insights have been used for sales and supply chain targeting by companies such as AWS and Coca-Cola.


Clarifai’s Content Classification

Clarifai’s AI-powered recognition platform helps classify images, videos, audio and text plus moderate content. For other data that might evade AI’s radar, human moderators can be added to the mix for an extra degree of accuracy. Clarifai’s technology is used across six different industries including e-commerce and retail.


DRINKS’ Curated Wine Business Platform

DRINKS provides an online platform for e-commerce retailers to add wine products to their website or app. Using its AI-based Wine as a Service API, retailers can market personal or networked wine, access consumer data insights and ship to 42 U.S. states.


eBay’s Customer Advice and Recommendations

EBay uses AI to provide customer advice and personalized recommendations, improve shipping and delivery times, pricing, buyer-seller trust and more. This technology can also be seen in areas like eBay’s image search and automated web page translations.

In 2019, the online marketplace claimed that, with the help of AI, it identified 40 percent of online credit card fraud with “high precision.”


Emotive’s Customized Marketing Messages

Using AI, Emotive allows e-commerce brands to send interactive conversational ads, text messages, SMS payments and customer services to consumers. The company’s Emotive Platform is where users can customize their marketing messages and track related engagement analytics. 

Emotive is used by over 1,000 brands, and reports that its conversational avenue yields at least a 10 percent conversion rate and a return on investment averaging 27 times the original value.


Hungryroot’s Personalized Meal Recipes

Hungryroot is a food recipe and delivery service providing a myriad of vegan, gluten-free and other dietary meal options to choose from. Based on user activity and input, its platform uses AI to create personalized recommendations and rotating recipe selections to include for the next delivery.


IBM’s Watson

IBM’s Watson uses AI to help retail companies create more personalized purchasing experiences using real-time data that more accurately reflects a customer’s current buying status.   

Retail businesses such as Frito-Lay, Home Depot and others use IBM’s AI technology to streamline supply chain operations and make shopping unique to each customer.


Zeta Global’s AI-Based Audience Engagement

Zeta Global combines AI and marketing automation to identify potential customers and personalize experiences. With the technology, users can also automate marketing activities and apply data insights to strengthen customer relationships.


How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming E-Commerce. | Video: Paolo Messina on Business, Science and Technology


3PM’s Counterfeit Product Detection

3PM uses AI to protect its clients and their customers from online counterfeiting on marketplace websites. It does so by using machine learning algorithms that are often able to tell fakes from the real thing while becoming more intelligent — and, therefore, effective — in the process.

3PM’s AI product, ReconBob, leverages Google Cloud Platform services to weed out inaccuracies in seller ratings on Amazon, eBay and Walmart sites.


Alibaba’s AI Writing Solution

Alibaba uses AI for everything from augmented reality mirrors to facial recognition payment. It even developed an AI copywriting product that uses deep learning models and natural language processing and reportedly churns out as many as 20,000 lines of content per second

Alibaba is also testing development of a ChatGPT-like tool as of February 2023.


Amazon’s Purchase Recommendations and Voice Shopping

Amazon uses AI to help customers voice shop and get purchasing recommendations, among other services. Amazon’s AI technology is also used for facial recognition, estimating home prices, visual search, autonomous driving and more. 

Amazon customers can also make voice-activated payments via Amazon Echo and its integrated AI assistant Alexa. Additionally, the company’s checkout-free grocery store, Amazon Go, uses AI to distinguish the items being chosen as well as track and estimate customer behavior. It has active U.S. locations in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.


Fellow AI’s Inventory Management Solutions

Fellow AI uses image recognition to provide real-time inventory management. One of its robot models, NAVii, is equipped with data capture cameras and can travel up and down building aisles to view what items are present. 

Home improvement retail chain Lowes uses Fellow robots (“LoweBots”) in some locations to help customers and monitor inventory in real-time.


InVia’s Picker Robots

Claiming the world’s first “robotics-as-a-service” platform, inVia Robotics makes advanced AI-powered “picker” robots for supply chain and e-commerce distribution center automation. The robots can work alongside humans without disrupting operations, ideally yielding higher productivity and lower labor costs.

In 2022, inVia Robotics teamed up with e-commerce fulfillment company Fulfyld to begin automating their warehouse operations.


Teikametric’s Marketing and Inventory Automation Platform

Teikametrics helps retailers navigate advertising in the e-commerce marketplace with its online management services. Flywheel 2.0, its AI-based marketplace optimization platform, allows retailers to create and manage advertisement campaigns, automate search engine optimization growth as well as track insight and inventory data.

The company has contributed to advertising efforts for brands on sites like Amazon and Walmart.


Trendalytics’ Retail Product Intelligence

Trendalytics is a product intelligence platform that uses AI to pull retail industry data from social media and Google trends. Retailers can access this data to discover product trends, view competitor pricing and help increase sales.


Valyant AI’s Conversational AI and Order Automation

Valyant AI develops conversational AI for customer service, specifically in the Quick Service Restaurant (or fast-food) industry. The company’s customized voice-based assistants can be integrated into call-ahead phone systems, restaurant drive-throughs and mobile apps.

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