AI for Retailers

AI part2-web

September 2018—

Make it work to your advantage

(Part 2 of a 3 part series)

Over the last few years, furniture retailers have had the opportunity to join the technological revolution other retail sectors have been a part of for much longer. One of those breakthroughs is the growing reliance on artificial intelligence (AI), which is making what was once considered impossible—understanding consumer insight—now very much a reality.

Artificial intelligence is the development and use of computers to perform tasks that traditionally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition and language translation. In retail, AI offers fast, educated analysis of what a customer might be looking for based on their search history. With AI, computers learn from data sets to understand underlying data structures and uncover procedures to make the correct use of the data.

Large- and small-scale furniture retailers are slowly adopting AI into their systems and procedures, but there remains a healthy number of retailers resisting adoption. We’re going to spend this month looking at how furniture retailers can exploit AI in their day-to-day business.

When it comes to furniture retailers, AI can manage your customer sales data. When that data is processed by the AI through its algorithms, a model is produced that can manage your business operations ranging from your inventory to customer relationships. AI can learn about your customers’ tastes and preferences and even build a powerful model of their shopping behavior. In accumulating this data, AI can offer your customers something they might like before they even ask for it. Ever had a website recommend a product for you while you are shopping? That’s AI in action.

Artificial intelligence’s power even extends to the physical arrangement of the furniture and accessories in your store by showing you what sells and what areas of the store are primed to sell furniture.

The beauty of this is that AI is not a technology exclusive to the big boxes and other furniture chains. Anyone can use AI—even the smallest home furnishings retailer. The diversity of AI is what makes it so promising. Let’s dig a little deeper into how artificial intelligence can help you in your store.

Use AI to close more deals

First, you and your staff can close more sales with artificial intelligence in your corner. AI can help you coach your sales team. Indeed, a bag of AI tools exists for you to use for this purpose. There is Chorus, as well as Gong for you to use in reaping the best from your sales rep team. These AI systems would bring into critical comparisons the strategies used by your in-house sales team, your leading competitors and help distill improved strategies from existing ones. AI platforms can even listen to the calls your sales reps make, and analyze them, looking for flaws you might easily oversee. All of this can be done at a warp-like speed and accuracy that will save you so much time.

Adequately equipped with AI, your sales team will have a larger and deeper pool of information about the prospective buyer. Armed with this information, AI can suggest what items to display next to each other to better produce a serial sales action. AI can help you better understand your customer such as what prices would be comfortable to her and at what price point does she start to get frightened and walk away. All of this can be implemented using advanced deep learning.

Use AI to target market

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook generated revenue of $12 billion after an ambitious adoption of artificial intelligence. It did so by deploying its AI algorithm, which chose a unique audience for each ad. That same technology can be used to deliver ads customized to the uniqueness of your customers helping you reach improved product-market fit.

As a smaller home furnishings retailer, you don’t always have the budget of the bigger home furnishings companies. That doesn’t mean you have to lose out to the bigger players. You just need to make your money work harder. You should be seeking the maximum value for every grain of your investment. Every retailer has thrown a lot of money down parading ads in front of the wrong audience. Using AI, today’s retailers can maximize their advertising dollars.

Artificial intelligence can help you synthesize the perfect market for your ads and put your message in front of a more fitting audience that is already prone to making a home furnishings purchase. Bringing in advanced natural language processing as well as audience segmentation, AI can offer you the concise audience that suits your ads. Wouldn’t you like that?

Use AI to improve customer engagement and development

Today, business is all about engagement. You’ve heard the cliché that customers are kings. Appreciating the royalty you serve means dedicating time to getting to know them and engaging them better. Better sales are executed when you manage both.

Artificial intelligence can help weave more emotional and stronger bonds between you and your clients. Chatbots have become so powerful they can interact with customers on your behalf. Just as a relationship is more romantic when the lovers know each other on a deeper level, the same deeper understanding can be made with your customers (ok, maybe not that deep but you get the idea). By the time you forge this relationship with your customer courtesy of artificial intelligence, they could be forever yours by remaining loyal to your store, and, even better, evangelizing your brand to friends.

The future is glittering with innovation with the most ambitious imaginations even struggling to contain the vastness of possibilities artificial intelligence would create for the home furnishings retailer. That might be the strongest reason to incorporate AI into your sales strategy. Artificial intelligence is the future of the home furnishings retail business and the wisdom is in embracing it.

RetailerNOW is changing.

Insights Magazine will be replacing RetailerNOW as the official publication of the Home Furnishings Association. With this change, you will be able to find the same great content on the HFA website. All current members/subscribers will automatically receive the new print editions. You can continue to view content on this website until January 2020.

About the Author

Amitesh Sinha
Amitesh Sinha has gained a reputation for inventory software solutions. He can be reached at