If we had been told a few years ago what technology would be doing for us today, many of us would have thought it the stuff of science fiction. This is especially true in relation to the image recognition provided by artificial intelligence (AI). However, image recognition technology is well and truly a reality in the retail sector and an essential tool in developing marketing and sales strategies.
Traditionally, image recognition was limited to deterministic algorithms with a high rate of errors. However, over the last few years, new artificial intelligence technologies have led to machine learning – a technology capable of learning and evolving independently without human intervention. The algorithm improves itself automatically on the basis of the data it receives and processes on an on-going basis. In the face of a changing reality, machine learning is the technological answer to the question of how we find out more about consumer habits in order to get closer to our buyers.
According to a recent O’Really study  about the Artificial Intelligence market, image recognition is one of the areas where more companies are investing in the USA. A similar trend is also apparent in other world markets such as Europe. In a competitive market like high consumption, businesses are in constant competition to increase sales and profitability at each of their points of sale. The use of technology is key in this area. How does image recognition technology apply to the retail sector?
Real-time images of the display: image recognition technology means sales representatives can access real-time images and data about the current status of the displays. This can give them an almost instant oversight of the current situation of a certain category of products and determine whether it complies with what was negotiated at the same point of sale. Image recognition technology is an excellent opportunity to collate data from the point of sale and analyse point of sale KPIs, allowing the activity of point-of-sale managers to focus on tasks with greater added value.
What information do these images give us?
● Inventory management: compliance with stock range and breakages.
● Mapping: product position and compliance with planogram.
● Availability: facings and display quota
● Promotions: detection of promotion references, promotional materials on the display, etc.
● Prices: prices, promotions and discounts, etc.
● Analysis of competition: detection of new products, benchmarking, detection of promotions, etc.
As a result, image recognition technology can be said to give us a competitive edge in terms of the speed, precision, depth and consistency of our day-to-day processes. We can a achieve a saving of up to 80% in the time taken to measure displays, and sales representatives have immediate access to the data that is essential in their daily working environment. The accuracy of the data also represents a reduction in the number of human errors arising from manual processes. This technology allows us to have more KPIs at our disposal, to increase the frequency of measurement and product analysis at the point of sale and detect both new trends and new moves on the part of our competitors.
Image recognition technology is a key tool in our company’s Automated Sales Force System (SFA/CRM). The data provided by our sales representatives at the point of sale, gives us quicker access to results and relevant field information. This in turn leads to more effective decision-making and better resource management. In short, image recognition technology allows us to manage and supervise our sales teams and personnel in the field. This signifies increased productivity and less wasted time, while improving customer service and care at points of sale.
 The New Artificial Intelligence Market by Aman Naimat – O’Really Media (August 2016)