Would You Let an Algorithm Shop for You?

According to Harvard Business Review, shopping algorithms that “tailor recommendations and then scour the internet for the best deal” are likely to “trigger the next wave of disruption in retail.”

Using digital travel agencies like Kayak, Booking Holdings, and C-Trip as a model, the story hypothesizes that “retail curators will become an industry on their own, changing the structure of the retail sector and capturing a significant share of retail sales.”

Currently, those three “online travel intermediaries… accounted for nearly 20 percent of the global travel market’s $1.3 trillion in sales in 2017.” And since those companies take between three and 20 percent of that in commission, they took home an estimated $25 billion in 2017.

HBR thinks that “retail curation could follow a similar trajectory,” as major players are already “blurring traditional retail boundaries.”

And because the Harvard Business Review is nothing if not thorough, the piece outlined the three different types of what they’re calling “digital curating engines” that are inevitably going to own us in the near future: market mappers, digital personal shoppers, and review aggregators.

Market mappers, the story said, “organize a vast range of choices in a compelling, transparent way,” offering the consumer the lowest price across a fast range of options. Digital personal shoppers combine both human and algorithmic learning to deliver a collection of goods that are (presumably) tailored to the customer’s interest. Finally, review aggregators basically just turn customer-generated product reviews into marketable features.

The machines are taking over, and as Marvin Minsky once said, “if we’re lucky, they might decide to keep us as pets.”

You can read more about it at Harvard Business Review.

[image via]