Smart retail rising in APAC

Retail firms that have adopted artificial are already seeing improvements of 16%-19% in customer engagement, business intelligence, profit margins, competitiveness and innovation, according to the latest findings from Microsoft Asia and IDC Asia/Pacific.

The study suggest that by 2021, retailers in the region expect AI to drive a further improvement of between 37% to 44% in these areas.

“Upended by a US$1.5 trillion e-commerce market, retailers in the region must quickly adapt to savvy, connected consumers that generate a trail of digital and omnichannel footprints that can be analysed,” said Raj Raguneethan, regional business lead for retail and consumer goods at Microsoft Asia.

Raguneethan said these footprints are generated from consumers combining channels like mobile, app, in-store and desktop throughout the purchasing process.

“To stay competitive, a shift to intelligent retail is required to add ease, convenience, customisation and automation – across business processes and operations, customer experiences, and the very products and services offered,” he added. “This can be done by turning to cloud and AI tools as the underlying, connective tissue for digitisation and business transformation.”

This is why Singapore-based video and sensor technology start-up  Trakomatic is investing in AI solutions from Microsoft Asia. With AI and facial recognition technologies built on Microsoft Azure, Trakomatic offers retailers a “customer service ecosystem” solution that is integrated with their customer loyalty programs.

Trakomatic’s AI technology recognises a VIP once they enter the mall if they have opted in to the program by signing up for the service and proactively providing their images. The solution then sends customers a personalised message like an SMS recommending a pair of trainers if they are a sports enthusiast, for example, and directs them to the store.

Along the way, the mall’s digital signage knows when the VIP is near and changes its content to reinforce the sent SMS. When the VIP arrives at the store, the system alerts the service staff via their devices, who can then engage the customer and offer a personalised experience – or additional discounts.

“Through the years, we have developed technology to securely collect and anonymise shopper data streams and have partnered with Microsoft to bring to life capabilities that are integrating digital and offline retail experiences,” said Shaun Kwan, COO of Trakomatic.