By  on February 6, 2017

A.S. Watson Group, a leading health and beauty retailer in Europe and Asia has announced its partnership with machine-learning intelligence platform, Rubikloud. The beauty retailer plans to enrich its customer experience through a three-year $70 million investment in big data.A.S. Watson Group will implement Rubicore, the service provider’s enterprise platform that enables streamlined artificial intelligence application plug-ins. Two machine-learning applications, Promotion Manager and Lifecycle Manager, will also be introduced into A.S. Watson Group’s 13,300 retail stores and 14 brands in 25 Asian and European markets.Rubikloud’s real-time analytics will provide of-the-moment insight into consumer behavior and enhance the accuracy of promotions, according to Kerry Liu, chief executive officer of Rubikloud.WWD: How is this data being used by A.S. Watson Group?Kerry Liu: Data in our LifeCycle Manager tool is being used to move individual customers and groups up the loyalty value chain and to reactivate dormant customers.Data from our Promotion Manager tool is being used to significantly increase the accuracy of promotion forecasting across every single category and to automatically generate promotional campaigns that increase revenue.Overall this data is now accessible to everyone at the operational level at the same time by providing a real-time view of the customer, the store operations, and other important metrics.WWD: How does artificial intelligence secure growth opportunities?K.L.: The key factor to growth is that when machine learning predicts the outcome of a campaign it has already trained that prediction against your entire data set. It adapts because we have applied reinforcement learning, meaning we learn from their behavior — how they respond to past and current campaigns – and modify this in a pragmatic way moving forward.WWD: How is A.I. changing the market?K.L.: From our perspective, A.I. is finally making its way into practical applications that will affect existing business processes such as merchandising, loyalty and e-commerce platforms. Additionally, A.I. can now be measured with a direct P&L impact — it isn't just research.WWD: What’s important for companies to consider when adopting platforms like Rubikloud?K.L.: First off, these companies are ready to partner with a fast-moving start-up. Secondly as it pertains to functionality, they're ready to work with elastic cloud systems. Finally they're ready to introduce real recommendations into their existing business systems, such as merchandising, loyalty and e-commerce platforms.We are at a time right now where machine-learning development and the cloud infrastructure market is starting to become commercially viable and easy to adopt for specific industries like retail. So companies should start jumping into projects that have those elements in them. They need to start adopting these or they will be left behind.

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