Ambient e-commerce is something Instacart, one of Amazon’s competitors in the grocery space, is already working toward.
“We’re really deep into the consumer data, because we have a direct relationship with the consumer,” Jeremy Stanley, vice president of data science for Instacart, told CNBC. “One of the wonderful things about groceries is that compared to other e-commerce purchases, groceries are habitual and frequent. People need groceries every week,” Stanley said.
Instacart already uses customer behavioral data and search activity to anticipate what a customer wants or might like, he said.
The company is also using machine learning to improve logistics. “We’re rapidly experimenting with computer vision for different types of applications, especially in understanding our catalog and enriching our catalog also potentially in identifying items on shelves in stores. There are lots of other directions that we can go with this,” Stanley said.
Like Amazon, Instacart’s online retail business is built on optimizing customer purchasing, relationships and recommendations by using the most innovative data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence technology.
“It’s the digital and end to end asset … being able to understand everything from when the customer first shows up what their intent was to the long tail of their transactions in the months and years to come,” Stanley said. “That kind of integrated data doesn’t exist in many classic businesses.”
The delivery startup is working with traditional grocers to collect data and insights that will allow them to remain competitive.
“Our customers are the customers of the retailers we serve, there is such brand loyalty to the retailers,” Stanley said. “Groceries are really personal, maybe even more personal than the movies you watch, and I think data can really change the way people buy food.”