New Zealand’s locally owned and largest department store The Warehouse has launched a new ‘Snap and Shop’ feature on its mobile app allowing people to take photos of items they like on their smartphones and instantly match them with thousands of available products in its catalogue.
Snap and Shop is one example of the retailer’s partnership with Google Cloud to deploy neural network AI technology to enhance customer experience and optimise pricing.
Warehouse Chief Information Officer Timothy Kasbe says AI is also being used by the retailer to price tens of thousands of non-labelled products, taking into account variables such as size, weight and material.
“We input the product specifications into Google Cloud’s platform, it searches for comparable matches all over the world and instantly comes back with pricing which is fair and accurate for the New Zealand market.
“This eliminates guesswork and estimation in determining pricing, which makes The Warehouse more competitive. It also gives us insights into how a specific product is marketed, so we can adjust the images or messaging we use to get a better result,” Kasbe says.
Google Cloud New Zealand’s Brendan Bain says developing an AI solution in the past to solve these challenges would have required vast resources and capability.
“With Google Cloud’s pre-built Machine Learning models and API’s, The Warehouse was able to quickly develop this solution using their existing team’s skill sets”.
Internationally, the use of AI by retailers is booming, from chatbots, voice shopping and shelf scanning robots to checkout free stores, personalised pricing and product recommendations.
Online shopping events like Single’s Day in China demonstrate the potential of AI to transform retail and boost sales, increasingly driven by AI algorithms that recommend products and communicate with retailers to keep up with demand.
“We’re thrilled to be one of the first retailers in the world to utilise this technology. AI is set to transform retail globally over the next decade, and it’s important for us as New Zealand’s largest eCommerce retailer to be well ahead of the curve locally, Kasbe says.