Event Preview: Craig Elston on Artificial Intelligence
As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly embedded in all aspects of mainstream retail — from production assembly to post-sale customer service interactions — brands and retailers will need to understand how to seamlessly integrate these technologies in planning to stay ahead of the competition and meet shopper expectations.
On March 13, Craig Elston, EVP, Insights & Strategy, The Integer Group, will lead an insights-driven seminar titled "Second Self: How E-Me Is Influencing Preference," at the Path to Purchase Summit (P2PSummit). Attendees will emerge understanding consumer and shopper expectations for AI, as well as important considerations for integrating AI with future planning strategies.
We recently had a chance to speak with Elston and learn more about his take on the future of AI in retail.
What recommendations can you give a brand that’s considering incorporating AI into its digital or shopper marketing strategies?
ELSTON: Hurry up. Remember AI is not a blanket solution. Use it with the right audience, in the right context and offer a meaningful solution to shoppers that also authentically accelerates and removes friction from the transaction. It must fit seamlessly with how people shop their category and how they use AI in their daily lives when not shopping, so a test and learn approach is critical.
Who are a couple of retailers or brands that are using the technology in an admirable way to gain insights, increase sales, improve the customer experience, etc.?
ELSTON: Beyond Google/Amazon, classic grocers use it to optimize their e-commerce experiences and operations. Meanwhile, brands like Patagonia and even banks (USAA is a good example) are using AI in customer service chats to ensure a seamless support offering.
What types of retailers and brands are most threatened by the rise of AI?
ELSTON: Those that don’t pay attention to their shoppers' changing behaviors and needs. Shoppers use AI today for “chore” shopping and entertainment, but still want the final decision. Brands and retailers must evolve with the human element in mind.
Where do you see artificial intelligence heading in the next five years?
ELSTON: While brands and retailers will have more opportunities to embed AI as tech evolves, everyday shopper applications will likely remain focused on greater personalization and curation, inspiration and deals. More broadly, the notion of "assistance" will evolve and embed in more facets of everyday life.
To learn more about Elston’s session at P2PSummit, click here.