Published on April 30th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Retail Has Big Hopes For A.I. But Shoppers May Have Other Ideas
Walmart, and, of course, Amazon, have gone to great lengths to build a smart store. A briefing from Jonathan Vanian at Fortune uncovers a potential downside to such precise activity and behavior monitoring. As amazing as the data is, the retailer still has to have customers. Customers can become wary of every movement being watched. Smart stores will need to find the balance between business intelligence gained from AI and customer experience.
Photo above: Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, powered by machine-learning and data crunching technology..
Walmart has opened a store in Levittown, N.Y. that is intended to showcase the power of artificial intelligence.
The store, announced last week, is packed with video cameras, digital screens, and over 100 servers, making it appear more like a corporate data center than a discount retailer.
All that machinery helps Walmart automatically track inventory so that it knows when toilet paper is running low or that milk needs restocking. The company’s goal is to create “a glimpse into the future of retail,” when computers rather than humans are expected to do a lot of retail’s grunt work.
Walmart’s push into artificial intelligence highlights how retailers are increasingly adding data crunching to their brick and mortar stores. But it also sheds light on some of the potential pitfalls as consumers grow increasing wary of technology amid an endless stream of privacy mishaps at companies like Facebook.
Walmart isn’t alone, of course, in trying to reinvent itself in an industry that is facing a huge threat from tech-savvy Amazon. Grocery chain Kroger, for instance, said earlier this year that it had tapped Microsoft to help it build two “connected experience” stores in which shoppers would, among other things, get personalized deals—possibly on their phones as they walk inside or on screens mounted on the shelves.