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How AI Tech is Bringing the Ease of E-Commerce to Brick-and-Mortar C-Stores

Carrefour City - Dubai Autonomous C-Store

With advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, retailers are finding new ways to bridge the gap between physical and digital shopping experiences. Enter autonomous shopping experiences.

Today’s brick-and-mortar retail shops and c-stores are struggling to keep up with the convenience and personalization offered by e-commerce giants. In an age where online shopping experiences are fast and easy, today’s consumers are feeling the pains of in-person shopping, such as long checkout lines. We all know that when a line is long, it makes us shoppers second guess if we truly need the items we’re about to purchase. This often causes shoppers to abandon their carts, leading to lost revenue.

However, with advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, retailers are finding new ways to bridge the gap between physical and digital shopping experiences. Enter autonomous shopping experiences

Autonomous stores, powered by AI tech, provide shoppers with a hassle-free, convenient, and cashierless shopping experience that is available 24/7. The right AI tech brings the ease of e-commerce shopping to brick-and-mortar c-stores. In this article, we’re placing a spotlight on how c-stores can “think” like an e-commerce giant with AI tech to deliver an autonomous shopping experience in person.

AI TECH AND AUTONOMOUS C-STORES

By 2026, approximately one in four retail purchases will take place via e-commerce. There’s no denying it—e-commerce makes today’s consumers’ lives easier. According to Oberlo, nearly 30% of consumers shop online due to the convenience of the quick checkout process. But even today, the majority of consumers shop in physical stores. In fact, 87% of U.S. sales are derived from physical stores. 

What if we could bring the ease and convenience of online shopping to brick-and-mortar c-stores? How would customers benefit? What financial profits could c-store owners gain? Would the store’s profit increase? 

With AI tech to power autonomous shopping solutions, customers can experience:

  • Easy store entry: Shoppers enter the store quickly with their credit card or an app.
  • Seamless shopping: AI-powered computer vision begins anonymized shopper tracking and recognizes products taken.
  • Frictionless checkout: Shoppers head home completely checkout-free with receipts sent directly via SMS or email.

Plus, c-store owners and managers can automate inventory management, streamline planograms, and create fast transaction processing—all adding up to:

  • Increased basket/sale sizes
  • Less wait time for consumers
  • Seamless and quick shopping experiences
  • Reduced operational and labor costs 

To make matters even better, autonomous c-stores have the potential to nearly double profit margins compared to traditional retail shops. The truth is, when we take the power of e-commerce (personalization, convenience, ease, etc.) and combine it with shopping at a physical store via AI technology, we create a more personalized and seamless shopping experience. 

AI TECH IS TRANSFORMING THE BRICK-AND-MORTAR RETAIL LANDSCAPE

To keep up with today’s consumer demands, retailers are increasingly utilizing AI-powered solutions to enhance in-store customer experiences, optimize store operations, and increase sales. In a similar fashion to e-commerce site visitor tracking, AI-powered computer vision technology tracks shoppers (the best systems will do this without using biometrics) as they enter the store, choose products, put products back on the shelf, and walk out with their purchase. This AI tech allows shoppers to purchase items in-store without having to wait in line or stop to scan or pay, offering a convenient, accessible, and personalized shopping experience.

AI tech also benefits c-store owners and the business as a whole. For example, AI-enabled video analytics can help retailers to track customer behavior and preferences, which can be used to improve store layouts and product placements. Sounds similar to online advertisements and product placements on a website, right? 

The coolest part about this is being able to optimize planogram planning based on insights that provide:

  • Heatmaps of popular locations in the store
  • Dwell times of where customers spend the most time in the store
  • Shelf location interactions to pinpoint which products and/or layouts prove to be the most revenue-producing

Equipped with these insights, store owners and managers can make data-driven decisions about product placement and store layout to garner the most profit from each sale. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

AI tech is not only bringing the ease of e-commerce to brick-and-mortar c-stores, but also opening up new opportunities for innovation and growth in the retail industry. As it helps c-stores to remain competitive in an ever-changing retail landscape, we expect that the future of retail will be built on AI tech. 

And as the industry leader with the largest global autonomous store network, our AI-powered solutions enable c-stores of any size, anywhere to become autonomous with 100% anonymous computer vision. 

If you’d like to learn more about AiFi and discuss how our systems can help you generate revenue while reducing overhead costs, request a demo with us. We’d be happy to walk you through the AiFi software and help you understand which of our three store formats suits your business needs best.