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A shopper is perusing the Lands’ End website — either because they are loyal to the brand, occasionally buy items when they’re on sale, or happened there after Googling around for, say, a down winter coat with a fur-lined hood.

Maybe they make a purchase, maybe they don’t. But if they opt to provide their email, they might soon be alerted that doggy puffer vests and squall jackets are on sale (because they perused them thinking they might look cute on their dog); or that their favorite country star Blake Shelton has a new item in his Lands’ End clothing line.

This is the type of personalized experience the retailer hopes to provide with its new partnership with Movable Ink. Lands’ End announced today that it will leverage Movable Ink’s AI-powered Da Vinci platform to bolster the retailer’s email marketing program. 

“Every customer is an individual with different preferences, choices and motivations, and we need to treat them that way,” said Movable Ink president, Adam Stambleck. “With today’s paradox of choice, brands must adopt a human-centered marketing approach to drive deeper and longer-term relationships — or risk getting left behind.”

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Growing adoption, use cases

According to experts, artificial intelligence (AI) use in retail enables faster business decision-making, enhanced (and more tailored) customer experiences, and the automation and optimization of routine processes and tasks. 

The most frequently implemented use cases include demand forecasting, personalization, social media analytics, conversational commerce and fraud/threat detection, according to Gartner sr. director analyst, Sandeep Unni.

Computer vision is leveraged in physical stores for smart checkout, loss prevention and out-of-stock management, he said; while machine learning (ML) has been used for demand forecasting, replenishment and allocation strategies for wide-ranging supply chain optimization.

Unni pointed out that Gartner has seen surging interest in AI in retail since 2016. Findings from the 2021 Gartner CIO Survey indicated AI as a top emerging technology, with 49% of retailers having implemented or planned to implement it in the next 12 months. 

AI: Essential to retail survival

In line with this, the global retail AI market is expected to reach more than $10 billion in 2026, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 40%. Rising machine ability for verdict creation from trillions of bytes of online data is estimated to drive market growth. 

The natural language processing (NLP) segment is expected to grow at the fastest CAGR of 42.75%. By implementation, the cloud-hosting segment will generate the greatest revenue; by technology, the machine learning (ML) segment will hold the major share, growing by a CAGR of more than 40%.

Simply put, said Unni, “retailers that are too slow to implement critical AI-led initiatives to support business transformation for customer-centricity will not survive.”

The ‘excitement’ in hyperbolic geometry

As evidenced by today’s announcement, Lands’ End is aiming not to fall in that category. 

As noted by Vivek Sharma, Movable Ink CEO and cofounder, “customer needs are constantly evolving.” 

So, his company’s platform helps guide customers “down individual paths” with scalable, contextually relevant communications, he said. Targeted emails and other marketing materials can help foster loyalty and drive long-term customer value (LTV), he said. 

With Movable Ink, brands can scale omnichannel personalization and automatically transform data into hypertailored insights, said Sharma. This integrates across customer touchpoints, and content easily connects to all relevant data wherever it is, and updates based on a customer’s recent interactions. This is all autogenerated by the platform.

This approach goes beyond narrow production recommendations, said Sharma; Movable Ink’s algorithm focuses on discovery, “looking down the road to predict what categories a customer will want to engage with in the future,” he said.

The model is based on an “exciting area” of mathematics known as hyperbolic geometry, he explained. 

Whereas many retail AI tools rely on predictive models and/or propensity models to forecast customer behavior, hyperbolic geometry enables Movable Ink to map customer behavior, product catalog and content performance in a three-dimensional geometry. This visibility provides important insights for marketers and creative teams, said Sharma.

Addressing short and long-term needs

Beyond Lands’ End, Movable Ink has been working with another major U.S. retailer to scale their email program. The goal has been to move from delivering a few segment-based variants of their core email campaigns to up to one million unique variants in a given day, said Sharma. 

This is “a near-impossible feat with just humans at the wheel,” said Sharma. “The AI allows the team to break through that content bottleneck that many marketers struggle with.” 

And, Da Vinci has significantly expanded that retailer’s ability to highlight products across its large and varied catalog to address both short- and long-term customer needs. 

With customer exposure to a broader range of products, the retailer has achieved aggregate click, conversion and revenue lifts of more than 20% over an 18-month period, said Sharma. All told, he said, Da Vinci has achieved more than 21% lift in conversion rates and more than 26% in revenue for customers in the first half of 2022. 

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