Retail Reshaped: How AI is optimising efficiency and customer interaction

- August 11, 2023 3 MIN READ


Another day, another mountain of tasks to tackle — such is the life of a business owner.  But advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are shifting the story, empowering retail professionals with the tools to do more with less, explains Shaun Broughton, Managing Director, APAC at Shopify.

While the retail industry has been at the forefront of AI adoption for some time, primarily driven by its desire to provide customers with highly personalised shopping experiences and seamless product discovery, now, more than ever, businesses are leveraging AI to improve back-end processes.

In fact, Shopify’s Australian Retail Report 2023 found that 44 per cent are investing in AI, or at least planning to, to increase efficiency and reduce expenses. Whether you’re a first-time founder or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to scale a thriving business, here are three ways AI can help you build a better retail business.

AI lets you work smarter, not harder 

From inventory management and automated bookkeeping to product marketing, AI can help streamline day-to-day tasks and increase productivity. Hence it’s no surprise that almost two-thirds (64%) of retailers plan to utilise automation technology to enhance employee experience and manage lower-value tasks, while 32% are considering these technologies for improving logistics and delivery processes.

The day-to-day applications of AI in retail are startling. For example, while crafting effective and compelling product descriptions typically requires considerable time and expertise, retailers can now use AI  to generate high-quality, engaging copy that captures the essence of a product, its features, and its benefits.

With tools like Shopify Magic, retailers can effortlessly generate SEO-friendly blog posts for various occasions like holidays, business milestones, and campaign ideas. Spending less time on manual tasks means entrepreneurs and their teams have more time to focus on more strategic aspects of their business, like creating new and innovative products.

Make data-driven decisions

AI can also help entrepreneurs make smarter decisions, analysing data and identifying patterns to support everything from financial forecasting to supporting marketing efforts so they can target the right audience at the right time. This kind of innovation is set to revolutionise what it means to run a business, and help Australian retailers get ahead.

Imagine if you were able to digest your entire organisation’s financial data, goals, along with market trends and economic forecasts in a heartbeat?

With AI, forward-thinking businesses are making faster and more informed decisions about product pricing and inventory management based on the likelihood of certain product sales. Like the colleague you wish you had, virtual assistants can jumpstart the creative process, improve the quality of a store, and help you make more informed business decisions. This could be taken a step further to even propose potential solutions like changing the design of an online storefront to improve engagement or act as a sounding board for ideas around product mix and promotions.

Build stronger relationships with customers

According to Shopify research, 40 per cent of retailers are looking to adopt AI and automation in the next year to assist them in handling customer service inquiries. AI can help automate replies to common administrative or technical questions, improving response time and lowering costs so your customer service team can focus on more complex queries. With the role chatbots play in customer service only set to increase,

Shopify’s made it even easier to integrate a chatbot on Shopify, either with Shopify Inbox or by adding Shopify-compatible chatbots in our App Store. With Shopify Magic, merchants can draft custom replies for a business’s most common customer questions, and then can review, edit, and publish those answers via their Shopify Inbox. Those answers are then automatically shared with the customers who made the enquiry, saving retailers the need to drop everything and respond in real-time.

Overall, the integration of AI into the retail landscape represents a transformative journey, characterised by efficiency, informed decision-making, and enhanced customer interactions. As the retail industry continues to evolve, embracing AI’s potential becomes not only a strategic advantage but a crucial necessity. By leveraging AI’s prowess, retail entrepreneurs can navigate the intricate terrain of modern commerce, steering their businesses towards innovation, growth, and success.

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