The Retail Hive Digital Boardroom: Using AI and Machine Learning to Improve the Online Customer Experience in association with Apptus took place this Wednesday, bringing leading retailers together to discuss successful AI implementation.

How can retailers use AI and Machine Learning to improve online performance, without diluting brand identity and customer experience? This was one of the central topics discussed on Wednesday 17th October, when The Retail Hive brought together 10 members to share their insights into using AI and Machine Learning successfully.

The Digital Boardroom was an opportunity for retailers to talk openly about their experiences with AI, outlining the challenges they’d faced and the success it had brought to their business. Involving both retailers who had fully integrated AI into their online operations, and those at the very beginning of their journey, the boardroom brought some interesting points to the table from a wide range of perspectives.

Some of the key takeaways from the event include:

  • Platforms need to take ‘overall objective’ into account. A focus purely on increasing revenue can be frustrating, particularly for brands who have put effort into curating their online experience, as recommended products could be based on mass buying behaviour. This ‘jumble sale’ effect is easily avoided with the right platform.
  • Merchandiser or machine? Balance AI with human interaction. Use AI and algorithms as the foundation of your online experience, but allow decision making to be influenced by your team, too. This allows you to customise your customer experience, while leaving the data ‘heavy lifting’ to AI.
  • What are you getting by promoting a product that already sells? This is a concern for businesses applying AI to product recommendations, and it’s important that users understand how to successfully override this function before they implement.
  • Results are important, but don’t lose sight of ‘why’. Retailers need to understand what’s driving results. Use data findings as an education piece and use those findings elsewhere to be empowered by your AI, not reliant on it.
  • Don’t leave data and AI to the maths and IT guys. Get the most out of AI by communicating what it can achieve across teams: it will motivate and excite people to interact with and use the platform.

For retailers with a vast product portfolio, AI really can be a transformative addition to online, but it’s crucial that users understand what they want to achieve and the limitations of each platform before they choose and implement technology.

Exclusively available to The Retail Hive members, the boardroom was moderated by Sally Green, Founder & Editorial Director at The Retail Hive, with technical insight provided by Andrew Fowler, Country Manager UK at Apptus.