How AI can help small to midsized retail businesses gain a competitive edge during the 2021 holiday season

Relief Rather Than Grief

Small to midsized companies are too often ignored when it comes to holiday e-commerce strategies.

There were around 31.7 million small businesses at the start of 2020. Small to midsize accounted for 99.9% of all businesses and more than 47.1% of all employees in the United States. However, while they hold the majority, it is common for these ventures to struggle and fail.

About two-thirds of small businesses with employees survive only two years. The holiday season has long been a deciding factor in success as larger companies can often use their increased revenue to kick out smaller competitors. COVID-19 has already had a devastating effect, with nearly 98,000 small to midsize businesses destroyed by the global pandemic.

The stakes are high for those remaining and therefore we would like to provide the latest and/or greatest technological tips to ensure the 2021 holiday season brings relief rather than grief.

Knowing who is losing and who is gaining will provide a road map of opportunity that at best, can bring a business to the top, and at worst, can at least prevent them from falling off the deep end.

Virtual Sales Associates: Solving Sales Associate Shortages with Visual Search

Over 62 percent of Gen Z and millennial shoppers want visual search to be part of their shopping experience. The same study found that nearly 80 percent of consumers discovered most products on mobile while on the go.


There is no denying that Visual Search is a direction that consumers support. It enhances the ​​retail customer experience, allowing shoppers to find what they’re looking for, faster and more accurately. The holiday season is an important time to deliver consumers the best possible product discovery process. Offering visual search through providers such as OMNIOUS.AI, allows customers to directly take an image of a clothing item in-store and look it up on the website to find stock information, size, price, etc.

This can help busy brick and mortar store associates free up more time for other customer needs. Not only does this product improve the consumer experience, but it also relieves the pressure smaller organizations are facing from the current labor shortage.

Source: NBC News

The Haves and Have-Nots: Improving Online Shopping Experience with Inventory Management Systems

Inventory Management Systems can be the key to successful sales, especially within holiday retail, where out-of-stock products can ruin customer relationships. Artificial intelligence can be an extremely valuable tool within this area as AI solutions can process significantly more data than humans.

According to a global report from McKinsey Digital, AI-powered forecasting can reduce errors by 30 to 50% in supply chain networks. The improved accuracy leads to a 65% reduction in lost sales due to inventory out-of-stock situations and warehousing costs decreasing around 10 to 40%.

While individual management solutions such as Fishbowl and Zoho Inventory can be effective, they remain as limited as they are focused. It can be expensive as well as organizationally inhibiting to invest in separate technology providers for each element. Therefore compound solutions such as the packages offered by OMNIOUS.AI will save money both as a result of a better-managed inventory and less third-party providers.

Lots of Language: Expanding Consumer Base with Multilingual Automated Product Tagging

1 in 4 U.S. businesses reported a loss in sales due to language/translation issues.

Along with the obvious benefits of understanding, the cultural bond of a familiar language is often necessary for providing a consumer the best possible buying experience. Automated product tagging has proven an invaluable tool for succeeding in modern retail. The ability to complete such a process in multiple languages provides an added bonus of reaching the 21.9% of Americans who do not speak English.

Source: Washington Post
Source: Washington Post

The expansion of multilingual product descriptions allows your business to target minority communities that may be ignored by larger companies. Asian American Ethnic Groups hold the first and second highest incomes in the US and yet over 99% of small businesses in the US have no Asian language translations.

As stated in the LA Times, “If you want to communicate with 90% of the world’s internet users, your sites had better speak at least 40 languages.”

Size Matters

Big Retail can be a daunting foe, especially during the holiday season with more than $766 billion in sales up for grabs. It is clear that ​​not all companies are going to benefit from this growth. Last year saw over 163,730 companies close down forever with CNBC stating ”more of that trimming will take place in 2021”.

The best option for small to midsize businesses is to outsmart their Goliath-like competitors through the adoption of digital technology. While these technologies are also being utilized by powerhouse retail companies, they still can provide extreme benefits for those otherwise struggling due to size. Fewer products and fewer consumers allow for more focused approaches.

It is important to understand a company’s attributes, building on them to determine weaknesses and potential opportunities. While each of these AI technologies provides different value, they all work to deliver a better holiday season revenue, allowing the small to stand tall with improved profits and customer relationships.