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The Warehouse's mobile app now uses AI to help 'Snap and Shop'

16 Aug 2018

The Warehouse has dipped its toes into neural networking and artificial intelligence to make it easier for customers to ‘Snap and Shop’.

The new feature on its mobile app allows potential customers to use their smartphones to take pictures of items they like, and then use the app to compare those items with what’s available in The Warehouse’s catalogue.

The Warehouse developed the Snap and Shop feature with the help of Google Cloud. The company says it used neural network AI technology to enhance customer experience and optimise pricing.

The Warehouse chief information officer Timothy Kasbe adds that the company is also using AI to price tens of thousands of unlabelled products based on variables such as weight, size, and material.

“We input the product specifications into Google Cloud’s platform, it searches for comparable matches all over the world and instantly comes back with pricing which is fair and accurate for the New Zealand market,” he explains.

“This eliminates guesswork and estimation in determining pricing, which makes The Warehouse more competitive. It also gives us insights into how a specific product is marketed, so we can adjust the images or messaging we use to get a better result.”

The Warehouse notes that online shopping events, like ‘Single’s Day’ in China show that AI has the potential to transform retail and boost sales. Much of this potential comes from AI algorithms that recommend products to people and communicate with retailers so they can keep up with demand.

According to Google Cloud New Zealand’s Brendan Bain, in the past AI was too resource-intensive and required vast capability to solve these challenges.

“With Google Cloud’s pre-built Machine Learning models and APIs, The Warehouse was able to quickly develop this solution using their existing team’s skill sets”.

Retailers are increasingly using AI in everything from chatbots and voice shopping, to self-scanning robots, checkout-free stores, personalised pricing and recommendations.

“We’re thrilled to be one of the first retailers in the world to utilise this technology. AI is set to transform retail globally over the next decade, and it’s important for us as New Zealand’s largest eCommerce retailer to be well ahead of the curve locally, Kasbe concludes.

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