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IBM Wants to Help Retailers Become Smarter Sellers

A quick skim of several holiday shopping roundups and forecasts from the last few weeks reveals a curious new source of predictions—IBM Watson. Yes, the super computer.

Last month, IBM Watson introduced Trend App, pitching it as a new way for shoppers to understand the top trends of the season and help predict the hottest products before they sell out.

Using a mix of API capabilities from IBM’s open Watson Developer platform, including sentiment analysis, keyword extraction and concept tagging, the free app tracks the top 100 trending products across consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness and pinpoints patterns and trends to reveal why people are choosing certain items or brands.

In addition, it claims to use predictive analytics to forecast both flash-in-the-pan and long-term trends. This information is useful to retailers, too, and could help them solve such pressing issues as what to ship where and when.

And that’s not the only way Watson is making merchants smarter about what to stock.

Earlier this month, IBM launched Commerce Insights to offer retailers “a real-time view into customer behavior and market factors that are impacting their businesses, proactively identify opportunities and roadblocks and take informed actions to increase sales and business performance.”

“In today’s data-driven world, teams must be plugged into the pulse of their business and markets at any given time to assess performance and identify new opportunities in the blink of an eye,” Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce, said. “Through cognitive commerce, businesses understand performance on entirely new levels, identify patterns and make the type of unlikely connections that in the end bring customers the right experiences at the right time, whether they are expecting it or not.”

Sounds like a veritable crystal-ball solution—if only retail success was that simple.