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Crafting The Future of Retail Excellence: Crate & Barrel's AI Investment Unpacked

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Crate & Barrel Holdings, Inc. is making substantial investments in artificial intelligence (AI) technology as part of its "Bring it Home" initiative, signaling a transformative shift in the future of retail. Through prioritizing a digital-first approach with a strong focus on AI, the specialty home furnishings retailer seeks to provide a seamless and highly personalized customer experience. They plan to build a new technology stack, accelerate the use of AI in universal apps, and use automation for improved efficiency in their facilities and inventory management. By doubling the size of their technology team and aligning it with real-time data analytics, C&B aims to optimize inventory, predict demand, automate decisions, and offer speedy, reliable delivery.

"We believe every retailer should take note on this move by C&B" says John Reed, Launch's Retail Sector VP, "We’ve reached a significant inflection point with AI’s ability to impact the retail industry; the ones that get out in front and enable their business to leverage it will have a significant competitive edge."

These investments underscore the growing significance of AI in shaping the retail landscape. Crate & Barrel's strategy reflects a forward-thinking approach to meet evolving customer expectations and stay competitive in the retail industry.  

“We see innovative retailers making core investments in AI, automation, and machine learning every day to enable modern retail business capabilities through advanced technology and data,” says Reed. “Crate & Barrel is a great example, signaling the future strategy and work needed by many global retailers in order to compete.”

While Crate & Barrel is a prime example of a retailer investing in strategic AI initiatives, it's not alone in this movement.

  1. Walmart: Walmart, one of the world's largest retailers, uses AI for inventory management and supply chain optimization. They employ machine learning algorithms to analyze historical sales data, current inventory levels, weather forecasts, and other factors to predict demand accurately. This helps Walmart optimize inventory, reduce out-of-stock situations, and improve overall supply chain efficiency, ensuring that products are available to customers when they need them.
  1. Lowe’s: In 2022, the home improvement retailer introduced an industry-first Digital Twin technology, empowering its associates to provide superior customer service. This innovation harnesses AI and machine learning to create a virtual replica of the physical store, enabling associates to access real-time data and streamline tasks. By optimizing inventory management, facilitating product location, and enhancing customer interactions, the Digital Twin technology aims to elevate the shopping experience, improve operational efficiency, and ultimately boost customer satisfaction at Lowe's stores.
  1. Amazon: Amazon's "Just Walk Out" technology revolutionizes retail with AI. Shoppers enter stores, scan their app, and AI-powered sensors track items picked up. When complete, they simply walk out, and their Amazon account is billed. AI algorithms handle real-time inventory management, enhancing the shopping experience by eliminating checkout lines and providing frictionless, efficient transactions. Amazon's use of AI demonstrates its commitment to redefining traditional retail, making shopping faster and more convenient for customers while showcasing AI's transformative impact on the industry.

“When executed well, the potential to convert core insights into opportunities for logistics, supply chain and inventory optimizations can provide potential operational cost savings, coupled with improved customer order fulfillment experience”, says Reed. “It's about finding opportunities to run a tighter operation, while also delivering a better customer experience.”

AI is no longer a luxury but a necessity for retailers in the modern age, enabling personalized experiences, operational efficiency, and competitiveness in a dynamic market. Crate & Barrel's use of AI exemplifies its potential in enhancing customer experiences, streamlining operations, and fostering sustainability.  

What’s Next?

It's clear that retailers who embrace AI are better positioned for success in the digital era. At Launch, we not only recognize this but also champion the idea with our clients and customers. Don’t believe us? Read about how we increased revenue by $4Billion at the world's largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks. Our Mobile Order & Pay solution enabled stores to serve more customers, increase revenue, adapt to a global pandemic, and most importantly, improve customer satisfaction.  

Launch is an AI first digital transformation consulting firm that is helping companies become AI ready. Take our free AI Readiness assessment and see where your organization stands today.

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