AI, cloud tech revolutionizing Middle East retail sector

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A lot of innovation is taking place in retail business formats in the GCC countries. (WAM)
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  • Real-time shopping platforms accessible via multiple channels and featuring high-definition live streaming as well as personalized services are boosting client engagements
  • In the next three years, AI adoption in retail and consumer products will increase from 40 percent to more than 80 percent, according to the IBM Global Technology

There is a lot of innovation happening in retail business formats in the GCC countries. As a result, retailers have been evolving their operations and customer interactions. Several regional retailers have adapted to the global trends such as cashier less and frictionless stores.

Additionally, the global retail market for AI is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 35 percent during the forecast period (2021 – 2026).

So how can cloud intelligence benefit innovative retail? And what sparked the first wave of retail disruption?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has become increasingly important, with many consumers considering it their primary means of purchasing goods and services.

This has opened a door for forward-thinking stores and consumer groups to incorporate sustainability initiatives into their online presence. Many stores are taking advantage of this shift by utilizing e-commerce sites and other forms of online marketplaces.

By bridging the gap between insights and action, AI accelerates the decision-making process in marketing, e-commerce, product management, and other business domains.

In the next three years, artificial intelligence adoption in retail and consumer products will increase from 40 percent to more than 80 percent, according to the IBM Global Technology. The retail sector is also expanding its investment in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, it added.

A Juniper study has meanwhile predicted that by 2022, annual global retail spending on AI would increase to US$ 7.3 billion, from the US$ 2 billion expected in 2018. Within that time frame, there will be a twofold increase in funding for predictive and educational analytics powered by AI.

Omni-channel sales and cloud-first infrastructure

Many businesses benefited from analytics-driven, cloud-based solutions during the epidemic by discovering ways to accommodate the dramatic surge in online purchases. In addition, their commitment to cloud-first architecture and security underpinned their ability to provide their online service consistently and reliably during the crisis.

Daniel Jiang, General Manager for the Middle East and Africa at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, explained that this made it possible for stores to implement cloud-native technologies, which allow for flexible infrastructure scaling in response to fluctuating demand. In addition, despite the heavy load placed on the platform, retailers could rest easy thanks to enhancements such as a globally accelerated network, cloud-native container management, and unified backup and recovery services.

Additional peace of mind comes from the multitude of critical security solutions available in the cloud, which provide full compliance and safety from various evolving security threats, he added.

Jiang also mentioned that when digital channels are optimized, they make it simpler to reach end customers directly and provide a consistent online and in-store experience for buyers.

Cloud services improve client experience

For online shoppers, duplicating the unique in-store experience is essential, and cutting-edge technology plays a significant part in doing just that. An effective way to boost client engagement and ultimately boost sales is through live streaming. For instance, Alibaba Cloud’s end-to-end live streaming offering, ApsaraVideo Live, facilitates merchant interaction with customers.

Jiang clarified: “This is accomplished via a real-time shopping platform accessible via multiple channels (including social media, apps, and websites) and featuring high-definition, low-latency live streaming as well as personalized services (including translation of spoken language, direct human interaction, and in-image merchandising).

To attract customers and generate a ‘buzz’ about a product, retailers can use cloud computing, AI, and AR/VR technology to develop 3D virtual worlds and digital ambassadors. Cloud-based XR solutions are fundamental for merchants to use if they want to attract Gen-Z customers, as this will allow them to establish a “metaverse” presence.

Finally, online shoppers have various requirements, and it’s essential to use cutting-edge retail technology to suit those demands.

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