The latest CB Insights Report on AI is out, and they do a great job of covering some of the Key trends in Retail for AI. One of the most stark and obvious data points of the study was the sheer and dramatic increase in the number and dollar value of the equity investments into Retail AI in Q2 of 2018.

This trend is going to continue…

As astutely called out at the beginning of the article, the key issue for most retailers is Amazon. As Amazon continues to eat the world, they are either designing their own products to compete with brands, or providing pricing and delivery service that is becoming increasingly difficult to match. In their recent book, Prediction Machines, the authors (who are AI leaders in their own right, having founded and continue to run Creative Destruction Labs – a leading AI incubator), regularly comment on the advancements Amazon has made as a result of their massive data sets, and willingness to use those to advance their business.

Many articles and videos have shown over the last year how Amazon is automating various parts of their business, and investigating done delivery technology to further speed delivery. As the authors of Prediction Machines note, Amazon has had a “Shop then Ship” model – which obviously makes sense in the retail world – but they are looking to a future of a “Ship then Shop” concept that could deliver products to consumers in an almost prescient manner. This is only possible through their massive data sets and ability to predict consumer needs and behaviors.

We are now solving problems with machine learning and artificial intelligence that were… in the realm of science fiction for the last several decades.

Jeff Bezos

This capability relies on the concept of accumulated, or cumulative advantage, that we often talk about at Think Capital. This is the idea that once a business begins to utilize large and growing datasets with AI and ML, the learning increases at such a rapid rate that it becomes quickly difficult for a competitor to catch up – even after they implement their own AI.

Head over to the CB Insights page and download the report, and give it a read. Some great reviews of how AI is used for shelf space management, spotting fake goods online and even how computer vision will help online stylists.