Smile, You’re On Camera: AI’s Impact on Online Retail

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 03 May 2019

In order to emulate face-to-face sales tactics, new AI technology aims to change the way we shop on our smartphones.

With advancing technology coming at us like a raging bull, it’s hard to predict what will happen next. It seems that NexTech has a good idea, though.

It’s no surprise that smartphones are an ideal shopping tool; you have constant access to the internet and a camera on your person at all times. Now, companies are targeting smartphone cameras to assist consumers when purchasing online.

Using Microsoft Azure Augmented Intelligence (AI) technology, the software company, NexTech, is trialling an Augmented Reality (AR) platform where the smartphone’s camera will predict whether the consumer is interested in purchasing an item, based on the user’s reaction. “It’s a similar effect to the attentiveness of an in-store employee trying to persuade the customer to buy something they are trying on,” NexTech’s CEO Evan Gappelberg explained, “except now it can be done digitally, both at the point of purchase and through retargeting at a later time.”

It may sound slightly intrusive, given the recent debate on smartphone privacy, but the tool is said to emulate face-to-face sales tactics. For example, a smile may conjure up a prompt to add an item to the cart, whereas a frown or negative reaction can suggest alternative options.

NexTech has predicted that over 100 million people will use AR in some form when they shop by 2020. It’s an ongoing trend that many brands have been experimented with. In previous years, a myriad of brands like Sephora and IKEA launched the concept of using 3D technology, allowing online consumers to see how different shades of lipsticks appear of a range of skin tones, and style pieces of furniture in their home from their phones.

It’s an ongoing trend that many brands have been experimented with. In previous years, a myriad brands have launched the concept of using 3D technology, allowing online consumers to “try on” items of clothing and styling pieces of furniture in their home from their phones.

As time goes by, the AI-powered insights will improve, “Retailers using this technology will be able to convert customers at a higher rate by having insights into what they like and what they don’t and refining what’s marketed to them, creating the customised experience consumers desire to empower their purchasing decisions.” Gappelberg suggested.

As online shopping is one-sided for consumers, introducing the psychology behind in-store sales tactics may just be the largest innovation for smartphone shopping.

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