AI Meets Back to School

The school year has started. The spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus has unfortunately curbed the optimism many had for the reopening of school buildings where teachers could conduct lessons and students could learn. And this, by extension, has impacted retailers and customer purchases for back-to-school items. Find out how some retailers are trying to stay one step ahead, thanks to a combination of social media and artificial intelligence (AI).

Delta variant has blurred direction of back-to-school retail

In a recent article for RETHINK Retail, Guy Courtin states that the back-to-school season of 2021 faces a “perfect storm” of unknowns due to the Delta variant. With reports of COVID spikes, schools that intended to reopen may wind up going back to virtual classes. And where retail is concerned, Mr. Courtin advises businesses that had been looking forward to a healthy shopping season of items—ranging from school supplies to apparel—to keep a close watch on how the markets will alter and shift. There are, in fact, resources that some retailers are pursuing to keep tabs on the market…

A roadmap by way of social media and artificial intelligence (AI)

Stephanie Miles, writing for Street Fight, reports that many parents are looking to their connected networks of families and friends on social media as guides to making back-to-school-related purchases. Retailers, in turn, are taking the lead on this trend and applying artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate this social media data to learn and capitalize on whatever they can learn about emerging back-to-school shopping practices. Ms. Miles cites Philip Melson of analytics and AI technologies firm, Fractal, who observed that brands have become very creative in tying AI to the customer experience. Some brands have implemented computer vision capabilities into their sites where customers (read: students) are able to view and virtually try on clothes or shoes. And if AI can benefit the back-to-school shopping experience, its capabilities may go further…

From back-to-school season to holiday season

While many tend to think of every shopping season as an event unto its own, one can influence the other. Ms. Miles points out there is a correlation between the back-to-school shopping season and the winter holiday shopping season. Retailers who are finding success with social media and AI as sources for planning back-to-school strategies are conducting tests to see how the holiday season may similarly benefit, which Mr. Melson considers as a “high-stakes natural experiment.”

Due to the ongoing situation with the Delta variant, the climate of uncertainty is overwhelming. As the examples listed above point out, however, answers are possible. Is the social media presence of your brand up-to-date and as strong as it could be in reaching your target audience? Check out our blog on what social media practices to follow (as well as which ones to avoid). For further help, let EGC lend a hand. Contact us today to learn more.