Most of the attention on AI goes to apps like ChatGPT and Dall-E, but AI is quietly changing how we buy and sell goods and services.
Why it’s important:
- By 2030, the global market for AI technology is expected to reach $1.8 trillion, which is an average annual growth rate of 38%.
- AI is being used by a wide range of businesses, from restaurants and stores to fashion brands, to study how customers shop and suggest products, talk to customers, keep store shelves stocked, and do other things.
- AI will be used in new ways by startups to help shoppers find the right size or haggle over the price of a handbag online.
- AI tools that can write poetry or draw pictures on a computer are in the spotlight right now. But many people may not know that artificial intelligence is already being used to predict their spending habits, answer their questions, and take their order at a drive-thru window.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is expected to quickly become more important in people’s daily lives as retailers, restaurants, and brands of all sizes rush to buy new tools that use AI.
With Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will offer OpenAI technology to customers of its Azure cloud computing service, AI use is likely to grow in all fields.
OpenAI is the company that made ChatGPT, a chatbot that can answer questions, write a poem in the style of William Shakespeare or a comedy monologue in the style of Jerry Seinfeld, and draw pictures based on written suggestions.
In January, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told investors that more than 200 companies were using the AI features within a week of Microsoft’s announcement.
Microsoft has put billions of dollars and years into OpenAI to speed up the development of AI. In the most recent Microsoft earnings call, Nadella said, “The age of AI is here.”
A report by Grandview Research says that the global market for AI services, which is worth $136.6 billion right now, will grow at an average rate of 38% per year and reach $1.8 trillion by 2030.
Here are some ways AI is changing how people buy and sell:
The Del Taco virtual assistant, which is powered by AI, “shows up every day and doesn’t call in sick.”
Some Del Taco drive-thru customers can now order tacos, fries, and shakes with the help of an AI-powered virtual assistant that can understand voice commands and talk back to the customer.
After a successful test of its Presto Voice system for drive-thru restaurants, Del Taco said in January that it was expanding its partnership with Presto Automation.
“Every day, the AI shows up. It doesn’t call in sick; it does what we tell it to. In a Presto Automation video about the system, Del Taco’s Vice President of Operations Innovation, Kevin Pope, called the system “the model employee.”
Presto has also put the systems in the drive-thrus at Checkers and Rally’s.
Presto Automation says that replacing a human employee with a virtual assistant can save a restaurant chain $35,000 in annual labor costs per location and bring in an extra $330,000 in upsell revenue per location because the virtual assistants are better at remembering to ask, “Would you like fries with that?”
Papa Gino’s Pizzeria, a chain of restaurants in New England, is working with the voice AI company ConverseNow to try out taking phone orders from customers using a voice AI system.
Grocery stores and big-box stores are using AI to restock shelves and find out how interested customers are in a product.
AI is used in supermarkets and mass merchants to keep shelves stocked and to help stores keep track of their inventory and the demand for their products.
Sony Semiconductor Solutions, a division of Sony Group Corporation, released image-sensing AI technology in January. This technology will help merchants find shelves that need to be restocked right away and also collect anonymized data on how customers interact with products and how often they walk down aisles.
Google Cloud, a part of the tech giant Google, also announced an AI-powered tool to check shelves. Google says that its AI-vision tool uses the billions of images in its database and is smart enough to tell the difference between different kinds of jam and jelly or toothbrushes on a store shelf.
Grocers like Wakefern Food, which runs the ShopRite and PriceRite stores, are testing artificial intelligence (AI) technology that uses computer vision to link a mobile app to checkout-free shopping.
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