Google’s mission to become an AI-first company

Machine Learning and AI is now at the forefront of Google’s focus. 

This comes hot off the back of its latest hardware releases, including Google Home Mini and its ingenious Google Buds, which use AI-powered Google Assistant to allow you to tap into Google Translate to understand someone speaking another language in real-time. Retail Connections caught up with Ronan Harris, MD of Google UK.

Speaking at Shoptalk Europe, Ronan gave an insight into the direction the technology supernova will be taking as it looks to innovate around the connected consumer – as well as the retailers it is increasingly looking to partner with.

It’s all about AI 

Machine learning and AI takes centre stage in Google’s plans; so much so that Ronan suggests Google now wants to be known as an AI-first company.

This direction, he says, is all down to the changing face of connected customers. They now demand more each and every time they interact with a brand.

The collision of the offline and online worlds, which we have mobile to thank for, has made shoppers more curious and insatiable for information at each stage of their buying journeys. They want to be able to discover whenever they want and wherever they are.

A case in point is the increasing volumes of mobile searches – in the last year, Google suggests mobile searches for ‘wedding venues’ have increased threefold, while they has been a 80% search rate rise on toothbrushes. From high value purchases right the way through to everyday buys, shoppers are continually consuming information on the go.

Intuitive relationship building 

Google’s data also shows that consumers are expecting software to learn about them. Last year they saw a rise in searches for products and services ‘near me’ using localised search, yet this has dropped off this year as the technology has learnt to offer these up as standard.

Embracing AI is central to Google’s focus on becoming more conversational, engaging, ambient and contextual to its customers.  And they plan to do this by combining machine learning and geo-location.

For example, when consumers go on holiday, based on their location and your previous searches, such as restaurant preferences and hobby searches, Google would look to provide bespoke restaurant or activity suggestions.

Google’s AI application in retail 

In terms of retailer applications, Google is looking to harness AI capabilities to remove friction from the store. It also wants to harness Google Assistant functionalities that can enable voice activated commerce across its hardware suite – having recently trialed this feature with Google Home and Walmart. It will now look to roll-out connectivity between this device and its Google Pixel and Android devices using Google Assistant.

To find out more about the opportunities AI presents, Retail Connections will be hosting an exclusive event, ‘Artificial Intelligence: the new game-changer in retail’ on 16th November in London. Retailers can sign up to our AI event for free here

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