In order to better engage with customers, retailers rely on extensive
customer and product databases which allows them to better understand customer
behaviour and purchasing patterns. This has long been a challenging task as
customer modelling is a multi-faceted, noisy and time-dependent problem. The
most common way to tackle this problem is indirectly through task-specific
supervised learning prediction problems, with relatively little literature on
modelling a customer by directly simulating their future transactions. In this
paper we propose a method for generating realistic sequences of baskets that a
given customer is likely to purchase over a period of time. Customer embedding
representations are learned using a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) which takes
into account the entire sequence of transaction data. Given the customer state
at a specific point in time, a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) is trained
to generate a plausible basket of products for the following week. The newly
generated basket is then fed back into the RNN to update the customer’s state.
The GAN is thus used in tandem with the RNN module in a pipeline alternating
between basket generation and customer state updating steps. This allows for
sampling over a distribution of a customer’s future sequence of baskets, which
then can be used to gain insight into how to service the customer more
effectively. The methodology is empirically shown to produce baskets that
appear similar to real baskets and enjoy many common properties, including
frequencies of different product types, brands, and prices. Furthermore, the
generated data is able to replicate most of the strongest sequential patterns
that exist between product types in the real data.

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