Why machine learning is still getting the human touch in retail


Handing power back to the people who know their business is becoming a more common practice, even in environments where big data has taken a driver’s seat on the technology side. That’s especially true in retail, where marketing campaigns, overstocked inventory or other concerns might trump straight-up algorithmic recommendations.

On Tuesday, for example, software-as-a-service startup BloomReach announced a new product that tries to give marketing and merchandising experts more control over their websites. Called SNAP (short for search, navigation and personalization) it lets the people in charge of product placement on retail websites exercise their judgment over BloomReach’s machine learning algorithms via a visual interface for determining what content is shown and whether personalization is turned on at all.

We have covered BloomReach’s service before, but the short explanation is that it’s a cloud service for determining what content retail websites should show visitors. That might mean displaying a sponsored…

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