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06 Apr 2017

Machine learning is the future of retail

Machine learning will transform retail over the next decade, Martijn Bertisen, retail director at Google UK, said at the World Retail Congress today.

“Think about how you can make it easier to navigate this complex world of information overflow and decisions for your consumer. Think about creating immersive experiences not just digitally but in your store or in the consumer’s living room. And think about how you apply data and apply machine learning on top of data to make faster and better decisions for your business,” Bertisen said.

By 2020, an estimated 26 billion mobile devices will be connected to the web across the world and that will have a profound impact on retailing, Bertisen told delegates.

“We no longer go online, we live online. We’re there 24/7. That’s an incredibly disruptive shift. The transition from the desktop to smartphones was hard for Google to get to grips with. Retail is no different. In the UK, we expect 82% of all retail sales by 2020 to have a digital smartphone touchpoint within the journey.

Consumer behaviour has fundamentally changed and I’m not sure retailers are really coping with that change as well as they should,” Bertisen said.

The shift to mobile devices has also lowered consumers’ tolerance for latency: “50% of us will leave a website if it does not load within three seconds. We did a study across multiple industries in Europe and we found that only two retailers had a site that loads in under two seconds. Obsess over speed – I really urge you,” he said.

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