How AI Integration Is Impacting Retail


In July,’s report for Toy Association members explored how artificial intelligence is changing consumers’ day-to-day lifestyle, and how it’s impacting the retail space.

“Today’s consumers are looking for ways to make their busy lives easier and more streamlined,” said Anne McConnell, senior director of market research & data strategy at The Toy Association. “The ideas presented in the Trend Hunter report represent groundbreaking examples of how companies are using artificial intelligence in positive ways to deepen the relationship with new and existing customers. Toy companies are encouraged to find inspiration from these ideas and potentially implement them into their own businesses.”

Here are some of the highlights.

Intelligent Loyalty

From clothing to food, retail brands are using AI capabilities to enhance their loyalty programs. Tommy Hilfiger launched Tommy Jeans Xplore, a new line of smart clothing that can be paired with an app to earn points that can be put towards reward experiences. Each item in the new collection is embedded with a Bluetooth smart tag. Rewards can be used toward concert tickets, runway show invites, put towards discounts, or converted into charitable donations.

AI Entertainment

Artificial intelligence is entering the entertainment industry as brands offer programs that use AI to create, or contribute to, music and movies. The startup, neuromusic, is an app that allows users to create music with their heart rate using artificial intelligence technology. Users simply place a finger on the camera and press the button, and it will create shareable beats based on the person’s vitals.

Voice-Activated Retail

Inspired by Amazon’s Alexa, brands are using voice-activated technology to allow consumers to shop by speaking to their phones or home control devices. Walmart has partnered with Google to offer customers voice-activated shopping though Google Assistant. It gives them to access hundreds of thousands of Walmart items via the voice platform.

AI Design

Artificially intelligent apps and chatbots are making interior design a more accessible practice for consumers. At the same time, it gives design and furniture brands unique opportunities to collaborate with the tech industry. HGTV’s smart decorating assistant, a chatbot for Facebook Messenger named “Hazel,” can offer decorating tips based on popular styles of the moment, specific rooms or even a few keywords of one’s choosing.

Experiential Purchases

Brands are tapping into social platforms, multimedia outlets, and AI capabilities to add more memorable moments to the purchasing journey. Domino’s shoppable AR Snapchat lens lets users easily order pizzas without having to leave the social sharing app. These interactive, shoppable augmented reality lenses have the potential to boost brand awareness, engagement, and sales. 

Pinterest Rolls Out Improved Product Recommendations

Following its initial public offering in April, Pinterest has been pivoting its attention towards brands, reports Kyle Wiggers at tech website VentureBeat. According to estimates, 59 percent of millennials have discovered products on Pinterest, putting it on par with Instagram, he wrote. What’s more, Pinterest users spend 29 percent more while shopping than non-users, reveals Oracle Data Cloud surveys.

Pinterest reports that 90 percent of weekly users turn to the platform to make purchasing decisions, 55 percent look specifically for products, and 78 percent say content from brands on Pinterest is “useful.”

In July, Pinterest began to roll out more dedicated shopping recommendations in the home feed; specifically browsable catalogs and personalized hubs. Soon, located below Product Pins (the Pins that show pricing and availability information alongside descriptions), users will see a new shopping section under the subhead More from brand. “A click or tap will pull up the latest products and info, and another click will launch the corresponding checkout page on the retailer’s website,” he wrote.

Previously, scrolling beneath Pins revealed recommendations across brands, but didn’t showcase individual brand catalogs or feeds.

The home feed is becoming more shoppable with the addition of personalized packages of purchase suggestions. The feeds are based on shopping activity and created both for styles and for specific brands.

New Department Makes Whole Foods a One-Stop Party Shop

Just in time for Labor Day weekend, Whole Foods stores across the country will have a new section featuring Packed Party products, a brand that began online and is known for its rainbow and confetti aesthetic. Whole Foods shoppers will be able to purchase colorful disposable dining sets and a host of party supplies including decorative banners, celebratory cupcake kits, and drinkware, reports Fast Company.

In keeping with the Whole Foods ethos, all of the items are recyclable and will most likely appeal to the urban millennial crowd that shops at Whole Foods.

“Until now, the party department at Amazon-owned Whole Foods was fairly rudimentary, with paper plates and plastic forks,” said the article. “Now the grocer is competing with bigger party supply retailers and making it easier to be a one-stop shop for customers about to throw an event.”

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