Blog Series

AI has arrived – and it’s not just ChatGPT

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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smart salad bar
The “smart” salad bar at Schnucks.

The next great retail technology buzzword is actually the abbreviation for artificial intelligence.

Every few years, a new technology solution or concept takes hold of retail and seemingly every IT-related industry deployment somehow features it. In the past 25 years, retail has seen technology buzzwords such as e-commerce, RFID, m-commerce, omnichannel, and headless commerce all have their moment in the sun.

Once again, a retail technology concept is ascending to become the pre-eminent solution across every area of the enterprise. That concept is artificial intelligence, or AI; which includes the subset of machine learning (ML), or computers that can be trained to learn abstract concepts in a manner similar to humans.

I recently wrote a column focused on the rapidly growing impact ChatGPT, a new AI model from research and deployment company Open AI, is having on retail. ChatGPTinteracts with users in a conversational style that mimics human interaction and uses ML capabilities to continually refine and improve its responses.

[Read More: ChatGPT is coming – what it means for your enterprise]

While ChatGPT is justifiably getting a lot of attention as a potential game-changer to radically streamline retail workflows in areas like customer service and HR, it’s not the only AI technology effecting change in the industry. Here are three recent examples of how AI technology with no connection to ChatGPT is having a buzz-worthy impact in retail.

Getting smart – about salad

Regional Midwest grocer Schnuck Markets is offering a “smart salad bar” experience at select stores. The retailer is deploying the Picadeli AI-based salad bar solution, which enables full traceability of its supply chain through its proprietary software and hardware.

In addition, by scanning a QR code, Schnucks can ensure products do not stay on the shelves longer than allowed by receiving signals for the need to refill and reorder. The AI-based salad bar is customized for each Schnucks location, using ML to determine what ingredients are most sought after at individual stores.

Ice, ice, baby

Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG), the parent company of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie, is partnering with Relocalize to pilot ice production in what the retailer says is the world’s first autonomous micro-factory. The retailer intends to eliminate middle-mile logistics for ice as a result.

The new ice micro-factory is located at the grocer’s Jacksonville, Fla. distribution center. It is centrally managed by an AI-powered software platform and utilizes robotics for 100% of production labor. The automated manufacturing process enables the grocer to scale production and reduce waste throughout the full lifecycle of its private-label ice product, lowering economic and environmental impact of ice production and distribution.

Feeling seen

Later this year, denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. plans to test customized models generated by AI created with technology from digital fashion studio Levi’s says it plans to use the AI-generated models to supplement the brand’s human models.

The technology will allow shoppers to see models “that look more like themselves,” and increase the number and diversity of its models in a sustainable way, according to Levi’s. Netherlands-based uses AI to create realistic virtual models of every body type, age, size and skin tone. Currently, the Levi’s e-commerce site and mobile app generally have one model for each product.

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