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By Cynthia Countouris, Global Director, AI for Retail, NVIDIA
Retailers have shown remarkable resilience during the pandemic, and things are looking up now that restrictions are easing and people are eager to visit stores again.
In a recent Deloitte survey of senior retail executives, 86 percent expect revenue growth this year. But many challenges remain. The $26 trillion industry has been hit by a triple whammy of supply chain disruptions, worker shortages and sharply rising costs.
Virtually every major retailer is investing heavily in digital transformation to help them overcome everything from supply chain challenges and labor shortages to improving forecasting and last-mile delivery. Some are investing in seamless omnichannel experiences, cashier-less stores, and AI-powered customer service agents.
So what are the most innovative retailers and startups doing?
Improving Logistics with Digital Twins and Simulation
Worldwide ecommerce sales were $3.5 trillion in 2019 and are expected to exceed $5 trillion for the first time this year, according to an eMarketer analysis. This hyper-growth of ecommerce over the past two years has created a set of logistical challenges for retailers to deliver on consumer expectations.
NVIDIA Omniverse allows retailers to build and simulate physically accurate, digital twins of their distribution centers and stores, providing the ability to test variations in layout and workflows. Before making any investments in the physical environment, retailers can identify and implement operational efficiencies that decrease potential downtime and accelerate throughput.
Personalizing Customer Experiences with Recommender Systems
Recommender systems are increasingly crucial in ecommerce, proactively helping shoppers discover products and providing effective upsell or cross-sell recommendations to increase cart size.
Recommender systems are also being leveraged to re-engage customers with products and content that align with a shopper’s interest after leaving the website using email, social media, or other marketing channels. The Home Depot recently adopted an AI-based recommender system leveraging the power of deep learning, and uses NVIDIA GPUs to enable personalized recommendations at scale.
Delivering on Expectations with AI-based Routing Optimization
To help the $9 trillion logistics industry efficiently route goods from distribution centers to stores and from stores to homes, NVIDIA in November announced its ReOpt AI software.
NVIDIA ReOpt helps optimize vehicle routing in real time, taking into account a wide range of constraints. Working with the NVIDIA ReOpt team, Domino’s implemented a real-time predictive system that helps it meet important delivery standards for customers eager for their order.
“The results we achieved working with NVIDIA showed great promise in delivering real-time and actionable insights that help us better serve our customers each day,” said Andrew Birch, vice president of data science at Domino’s.
Advancing Store Experiences with Autonomous Shopping
Labor shortages have become widespread as millions of workers left their jobs last year in what is being called the Great Resignation. Retailers are forced to compete not just with each other but also with many other industries. They are increasing wages, which affects margins already under pressure by pandemic-related closures and limitations, as well as margin-busting delivery costs and returns from online shoppers.
One way retailers are looking to both delight customers and address the talent issue is by creating autonomous shopping experiences. Startups such as AiFi, AWM and Trigo have developed shopping platforms that let customers pay for their items automatically without having to check out. These solutions add additional benefits such as identifying and alerting associates to stock outages in real time.
All of these startups are using the NVIDIA AI platform to deliver real-time recommendations in stores and distribution centers.
Retail AI at NVIDIA’s GTC Conference
NVIDIA GTC, a free, virtual conference taking place March 21-24, will bring together IT professionals, researchers, data scientists and developers to discover how AI is transforming industries. GTC offers more than 20 retail-focused sessions that dive deeper into many of the AI-driven solutions the industry is pursuing.
GTC has become one of the largest and most important technology conferences, featuring more than 900 sessions and 1,400 speakers from a who’s who of organizations including Amazon, The Home Depot, Kroger, Dell Technologies, Deloitte, Google, HPE, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, NASA, NFL, Pfizer, Stanford University, Visa, Walt Disney and Zoom.
Register here to learn how the world’s leading organizations including top retailers are harnessing the latest technologies to manage complex challenges and grow their businesses.