Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 34 seconds

As much as the online giants seem to squeeze brick-and-mortar retailers, when you need milk at 10 o’clock at night, they can’t beat the convenience of stopping in at the local grocery store. …And the brick-and-mortar stores are taking advantage of this competitive edge. Using advances in AI, the brick-and-mortar retailers are finding ways to make the most profit from your 10-minute trip to their store for milk.

Blue Light Special In Your Pocket

Do you remember the blue light special? The blue revolving light was placed prominently in front of items a store wanted to sell most. Now, location-based advertising is the blue light and the flashing is a buzz from the phone in your pocket alerting you to a ‘special offer’ on frozen pizzas, which you are currently staring at. When you push your cart over to the toy aisle, now your phone buzzes again with another offer, this one for a toy car at 20% off. This is AI at work; marketers’ software knows where your phone is located through the store app you downloaded and pushes out tailored ads.

Profiting From Patterns

Behind the scenes, big-box retailers are using artificial intelligence to sift through tens of thousands of transactions to correlate items that are most frequently bought together. The algorithms find patterns, and the stores learn ways to sell goods better.

For example, what else do people buy who came to purchase new plumbing supplies or lightbulbs at the home goods store? Is there a pattern? Those add-ons can then be pushed to sell to anyone else purchasing plumbing or lightbulbs. Expand this to all items, and suddenly, those patterns reveal very specific and profitable ways to generate sales.

Other patterns are also sought:  what do consumers who buy plumbing supplies purchase on their next trip? Did anyone buying lightbulbs also purchase household cleaners? What is the length of time that consumers wait between return trips? Data analytics like these allows retailers to design store layouts more strategically and push products most likely to result in a sale.

Safer Stores Mean Cost Savings

AI might also enhance loss prevention practices. Advances in facial and behavioral recognition software currently employed in more secure facilities might appear in retail stores to prevent thefts, a contributing factor to stores that must increase prices to offset their losses. It might become possible to predict when someone is likely to shoplift before they do so, tracking images against data about shady body language, typical patterns of movement throughout the floor as criminals case the store, or eye movements that pay attention to locations of store personnel rather than the items on the shelves.

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?

By using programs with artificial intelligence platforms to track consumer behavior, send push notifications, keep costs down, and influence marketing strategies, the brick-and-mortar stores are keeping up against the odds. Like the tale about the big bad wolf who couldn’t blow down the brick house, the online retailers are pushing, but the brick-and-mortar stores are still standing, thanks in part to innovations with AI.

Last modified on Monday, 02 September 2019
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Deborah Huyett

Deborah Huyett is a professional freelance writer with experience working for a variety of industries. She enjoys and works with all types of writing, and she has been published or ghostwritten for blogs, newsletters, web pages, and books. A former English teacher, Deborah’s passion for writing has always been grounded in the mechanics while appreciating the art of writing. She approaches projects as creative challenges, matching voice and tone for any audience.

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