AI in retail: Maya, how's my store doing?

The rise of Amazon is a big factor that is pushing others to invest in data analytics and AI in retail. And in India, many companies are cropping up to help stores and retail chains do just that

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Aug 12, 2021 12:39:37 PM IST
Updated: Aug 12, 2021 05:59:31 PM IST

Capillary offers a more comprehensive ‘customer data platform’ that takes in data from every point at which a store can capture customer data, and provides analytical insights to retail companies
Illustration: Sameer Pawar


The rise of Amazon is a big factor that is pushing others to invest in data analytics and AI in retail. A stroll through Bengaluru’s main streets shows people are visiting their favourite stores despite the pandemic.

At Capillary Technologies, which makes software to help large retail stores better engage with customers, the pandemic was a temporary setback to a new facial recognition-based product, because companies scaled back investments in stores.

The technology, however, was ready and could be used to support sales staff to offer useful, tailored information to individual buyers, based on the interests they showed from previous visits.

Other Capillary products that track store traffic and demographics data, to be fed into an AI engine, are being used in thousands of stores in India and China, and for one Capillary customer, in stores in 25 countries, says CEO Aneesh Reddy.

And “instead of using heavy-duty tech, we just used a raspberry pi and made the edge smarter with some AI algorithms,” he adds,  referring to a small, affordable computer popular among coding enthusiasts and students.

Capillary also offers a more comprehensive ‘customer data platform’ that takes in data from every point at which a store can capture customer data, and provides analytical insights to retail companies. This helps them run loyalty programmes and marketing campaigns. With this platform, retailers can also run customer-specific offers and relationship-based pricing.

Capillary has built a marketer-centric AI stack called aiRA, which deploys AI to make the lives of marketers easier, Reddy says. Brand marketers can get forecasts on what customers are most likely to buy—any given product on a particular weekend.



Second, if a store is contemplating five different offers on products, Capillary’s AI can tell them which to send to which customer. And soon, it will also tell stores which channel to focus on—Instagram or WhatsApp, for example—through an AI-driven product called Cross-Engage.

At Manthan Software, founder Atul Jalan has developed Maya, an AI-powered voice interface that connects users with the power of cloud-computing and deep learning. Maya uses natural language recognition and works on Amazon’s Echo speakers, Google Home, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri. The company says it can make everyone in the company much better informed. All they have to do is ask.

And, with Manthan’s analytics platform, Maya understands the intent, factors in the context and provides personalised insights for each role. The more Maya is used, the better the AI becomes at anticipating questions and can even make suggestions. Maya can also authenticate specific users.

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(This story appears in the 13 August, 2021 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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