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Artificial Intelligence | 3 min read

Podcast: Using Artificial Intelligence in Retail

February 15, 2023

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Artificial intelligence is embedded in nearly every industry today, including retail. To discuss how AI is fundamentally creating a better eCommerce user experience, GroupBy’s CEO, Roland Gossage, recently joined the Digital Transformation Podcast.

During the conversation, Roland walked host Kevin Crane through the accelerated digital transformation the industry experienced in response to the global pandemic and the lasting impact it has today.

In a very short period of time, retailers, wholesale distributors and manufacturers were forced to modernize their systems to remove any friction in the buyer’s journey, especially for online customers. Investing in composable infrastructure allowed organizations to move away from monolith-type systems to be more agile, integrating solutions to address singular pain points in the customer journey.


Personalization has been a focus in retail for a long time – get the right product in front of the right user at the right moment. The process started with creating personas based on gender, age and other demographic details to group customers into segments. Brands quickly realized despite similarities, purchasing behaviors varied greatly. The pigeonholing approach wasn’t working, and instead, they needed to look on a one-to-one basis, a process that requires massive amounts of data.

Before a brand can jump into personalization, there are a few prerequisites. The most important is investing in a robust search/browse solution layered with AI to collect and process relevant information on how people buy and interact with products. At GroupBy, we take this a step further. Our product discovery platform takes data from a person's online and in-store interactions to understand a customer’s affinity for certain products. This allows us to make predictions about which products the customer is most likely to buy, and then present those products in the search results. So instead of just solving for relevancy and personalization, we calculate attributes like buyability and then optimize results for revenue.

This is where AI comes in, superseding human capabilities to process trillions of data points to correlate general consumer data to each user and the product. For example, in fashion, data shows if a person is looking at a particular type of dress, it will make recommendations for a shoe, handbag or other accessories a consumer is likely to buy with the dress due to its high product affinity.

It's a very AI and data-intensive process that we have democratized for our clients. Seamlessly, we can link our data pipelines to our customer’s AI models. Most retailers are data-rich, but information poor. Meaning the data is there but in multiple formats and structures. It is essential to understand how to unify the data and get it into a consumable entity that can be leveraged.

Bringing the Digital Experience In-store 

As mobile adoption continues to surge, retailers can bring digital experiences to life. Disney was the first to do this by adding a near-field chip to the Magic Bands. Following purchases and activities from the band, Disney can provide personalized recommendations and step-by-step directions via its Mobile app.

Retailers with physical locations create this "click and mortar" environment for a seamless transition between omnichannel or multi-channel experiences. For example, grocery stores can adjust digital end cap displays with near-field chips to update in real-time based on nearby customer preferences.

Using Data Responsibly 

According to a Salesforce report on the State of the Connected Customer, 86% of customers are more likely to trust companies with their relevant information if they explain how it provides a better experience, and 78% of customers are more likely to do so if companies use their data to fully personalize the customer experience.

Personalization is one area with the potential for creep factor, but the industry has gone to great lengths to prevent it from happening. With the increase in regulations, like GDPR, retailers are working very hard to protect user data and only use it for good. The convenience for consumers to see relevant products at the right moment for an enjoyable shopping experience eases their concerns.