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AI is here for retailers now, says Beabloo chief

Artificial intelligence is not a future trend for retailers but something that is here today, according to Jaume Portell (pictured), CEO of Spanish technology company Beabloo, speaking at last week’s Advantech IoT Co-Creation Summit in Suzhou, China.
“Making a store smarter is about helping a store do what it is meant to do, and that is serving customers better,” he said. “AI is no longer a future trend; it is here, and becoming reality fast. High-tech companies are investing heavily in this area.”
He said it was time for retailers to reach out and help customers with what they needed, when they needed them, or even before they needed them.
“Brands and customers can establish a one-to-one relationship,” he said. “It is an exciting journey.”
However, he said online retail had reached the top of its growth curve, which was why a lot of online retailers were now looking at what they could do in-store. And for that, digital signage could help.
“Digital signage is the voice of the store to the customer,” he said. “AI helps them show the right message at the right time.”
Beabloo is a software company that uses Taiwanese company Advantech to build suitable hardware.
“Our systems look at who the person is, whether it is a man or a woman, what time it is, and predicts the best content to show them,” he said, “We can also analyse what customers do when they connect to the wifi in the store. We can see if they are connecting to the product’s web site or even a competitor’s web site.”
Also at the show, Haiau Pham (pictured below), vice president of Californian virtual queuing company QLess, pointed out that 82 per cent of offline conversions began with online research but that only eight per cent of retail sales happened online.

“Technology can let a customer join a virtual queue so they know exactly when to turn up,” she said. “Mobile queuing and flexible appointments let customers know when to go. Users can be notified when it is their turn. They can even push back their appointment time if they want to.”
She said that between 30 and 50 per cent of offline purchases were impulse buys and that having a managed intelligent queuing system could encourage more impulse buys.
“It turns waiting areas into selling areas,” she said. “Virtual queuing lets retailers turn visits into relationships. And it can give retailers valuable analytics.”

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