It seems that whichever way you turn, the topic of artificial intelligence is on everyone’s lips. Whether it’s AI in the home, suggesting the next movie you might like, or AI in the workplace, streamlining processes and automating tasks, it’s become a part of everyday life.

But since late 2022, chatGPT (or chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer to give it its full moniker) has taken AI into new applications and got everyone, well, chatting.

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ChatGPT is used by retailers to enhance their omnichannel strategy.

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ChatGPT, developed by Open AI*, is an artificial intelligence model specifically designed to ‘understand’ and respond to human language. Like all forms of AI, it is trained on massive amounts of natural language data, and continues to improve its skills the more it learns.

So how does chatGPT play a role in omnichannel retail POS? Omnichannel retail is the bringing together of multiple online and offline channels in a customer-centric approach that delivers the best possible shopping experience. ChatGPT can be embedded in omnichannel retail in four key ways:

  • Customer service
    Customer service has a big influence on the overall shopping experience – not just at the time of purchase, but before and after as well. Great customer service starts when the customer first visits a website or store, and continues until they receive and start using their product. ChatGPT can help retailers to provide a responsive, accurate and attentive online customer service throughout that journey. It could be via an AI bot on the website, an app or on a kiosk in the store.

    The AI customer service bot can provide the information the customer needs before they purchase – and which helps to drive and increase sales. This includes:

    • Stock information – where they can purchase and/or collect which items
    • Styling information – styles they might like, based on their previous purchases or what similar customers have bought. For example, H&M have introduced an AI style** assistant which helps customers pick fashion items to suit their own personal style and budget.  The app creates a personalised profile for the user, and can suggest items based on build, colouring and personal preferences. It can even answer questions such as ‘What should I wear for a job interview?’. The user can view the suggestions and immediately click to order.
    • Product information – such as provenance, materials, sustainability profile

    The AI bot can also help customers with the queries that they might have after they have made their purchase, such as:

    • Order tracking
    • Delivery dates
    • Returns information

    Many retailers already have a chat facility built into their websites, but with chatGPT they can go to the next step in efficiency and service, by using an AI service that provides the answers in natural language, in a way that is indistinguishable from a human for the customer, yet more cost-efficient for the retailer.

  • Social media and website content
    Chat  GPT can be used to write, edit and proofread content, for retailers to use on their social media platforms and websites. This could be ‘standard’ product descriptions or, for example, seasonalised content for holidays and other events. Social media is increasingly part of an omnichannel strategy, with links directly through to a website so that customers can purchase simply and directly from the post.
    For retailers who operate in dual language areas, or across multiple countries, chatGPT can be a very useful tool for then translating that content+ into multiple different languages.

  • Personalised promotions
    Retailers have long understood that customers aren’t interested in receiving generalised promotions – they want messages that are designed for them. ChatGPT can be a useful tool in this aspect of omnichannel retail pos too – creating personalised messages that are based on each customer’s previous purchases and preferences++, and sending them to their mobile device in natural language format.
  • Sentiment analysis

    In an omnichannel environment, customer online feedback is invaluable to give retailers an understanding of customer sentiment, which they can use to improve their offering. But retail data analytics, trawling through these vast reams of data is a time consuming task. ChatGPT, with its understanding of human language, can be used to review customer comments, perform retail data analytics and create reports.

    Using chatGPT for omnichannel retail pos drives benefits for shopper and retailer alike:

    • Enhanced customer experience – customers get a consistent level of customer service, and promotions designed specifically for them.
    • Elevated brand engagement – great customer service drives engagement and a higher level of consideration of the retailer’s brand
    • Reduce abandoned carts – e-commerce can traditionally have high levels of incomplete transactions. By providing ‘human-like’ engagement, style suggestions and answers to queries, the number of abandoned carts can be reduced.
    • Cross sell up sell – suggestions for styling and accessorising can increase average sale size
    • Reduce costs – using an AI bot to answer customer questions, make suggestions for purchases, write content and analyse feedback is cost efficient and frees up more staff for in-store, in-person engagement
    • Continuous improvement – chatGPT, like all forms of AI, continues to get better the more work it does and the more it learns. So an investment in AI is one that will continue to deliver a return.

What is chatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI tool which has been ‘trained’ using vast quantities of data, to understand human language. It can receive queries presented in ‘natural language’ – that is, language as spoken by people. Having understood what is being asked, it accesses its database of knowledge (based on previous answers to similar questions),  formulates an answer and responds, also in natural language. To the user, it’s indistinguishable to communicating with a human.

Are retailers already using chatGPT?

Yes, some retailers have already embraced chatGPT – according to a Forbes article from March 2023, Shopify, Instacart and Carrefour are already using it. Other retailers are actively considering how best to embed chat GPT and other forms of AI into their omnichannel operations – watch this space!

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