AI and ML Use Cases: Retail


To understand how artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are being applied in the retail industry.

Early Findings


  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to create algorithms which make advanced purchase recommendations to online customers, allowing them to shop online much quicker than they previously were able to. "Instead of going through hundreds of physical items, consumers can browse through a digital catalog that asks them questions regarding their preferences and what kind of item they’re looking for."
  • AI is also being used to allow retailers to track how customers are interacting with in-store items. Specifically, "retailers can monitor how successful an item is with shoppers by monitoring their facial and hand gestures", allowing them to update their stock accordingly.
  • "From 2013 to 2018, retail artificial intelligence startups raised $1.8 billion across 374 deals," largely because of Amazon and other retailers.


  • Target has been utilizing machine learning to help predict which customers were most likely to be pregnant at any given time, allowing them to market to those customers accordingly. This data was then used to help change shoppers' habits, as it's been found that individuals are most likely to change their shopping preferences and habits around a major life change, such as pregnancy and child birth.
  • Walmart is testing the usability of machine learning to track facial patterns of customers at check-out in order to determine which customers are most likely frustrated. When these customers are identified, a representative will be sent out to talk to them.
  • Walgreens has been utilizing machine learning to track the spread of the flu, allowing their retail locations to more effectively offer vaccines. "Walgreens uses data from the number of anti-viral prescriptions it fills at more than 8,000 locations to track the spread of the flu," and they published this information on their website.
  • Other retailers using machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve customer service and increase sales include North Face, Sephora, Lowes, Neiman Marcus, Macys, ThredUp, Amazon, Uniqlo, West Elm, Sam's Club, Kroger, Olay, H&M, Zara, American Eagle, and Rebecca Minkoff Designs.

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