You know the drill. That mad rush at the end of the day to wrap up work and pick up the kids. Everyone’s hungry. No one wants to cook. That’s when the text pops up with A kids eat free offer at a local restaurant. Not my favorite, but the kids love it. Guess who won’t be doing dishes.

That’s the power of AI. It allows for hyper-focused targeting of the right customers at the right time. It’s more efficient and more effective. And, it’s just getting better.

Before, it was anyone’s best guess about when to put out an offer and how best to reach the target customer. Run an ad in the Sunday paper. Buy time on a favorite radio show. Hope that you reach a potential customer.

We can do so much more now. The best part is this isn’t something that’s available only to the biggest of the big brands. What I’m seeing is that businesses are looking for an edge. This is it.

Here’s why it matters – a key consideration for 80% of shoppers is personalization. People want to go to stores where they will be recognized and treated based on their personal preferences. AI allows for that.

And from the looks of things, that will be nearly half of all US-based businesses within the next 12 months.

Business technology

However, even though the capabilities are there, it’s largely untapped potential. Nearly 80 percent of retailers are not capable of identifying their customers until checkout. You know what that means? The 20 percent who can are already way ahead.

This isn’t even something that requires a big, brand new investment. It’s available as part of the payment processing solution – something merchants use all day every day. A cutting-edge point of sale system collects data that can be used to track and learn from customer behavior. It also allows for smart inventory replenishment and automated fulfillment.

AI is basically programming. Beyond customizing the customer experience, it can be used to detect and prevent fraud. By rapidly scrolling through hundreds of transactions faster than you can ring up a sale, it can detect patterns and anomalies raising alarms even before sales are final. On the productivity side, AI can help track employees and, essentially, keep them on track.

In addition to keeping track of the individual customer, you can track buyer trends and cross-reference that with inventory. No more guessing what to buy more of.

Surprisingly, it’s not more expensive than what you’re probably already paying now. And, in fact, it may be more cost-effective when you factor in revenue gains.

It does take some research and setup. If you want to take full advantage of the tech, you need to figure out what you’re looking for and what it can do. With the right system, you can level up and crush the competition.

Someone hasn’t come in for a while? Send them a push with an offer. Have a customer who always buys the same thing? Send them a discount for a related product that’s complementary to their favorite one. This can all be done automatically, while you’re off doing what you do best, keeping your business running smoothly.

The bottom line is AI allows you to be more efficient, waste less time, and provide better customer service. All around, it’s going to be a great thing for those that take advantage of it. I know I’m excited about the potential, how about you?