Get Set, Shop! Accenture Study Shows Gen AI’s Retail Future

75% of retail executives view Gen AI as instrumental to their business's revenue growth
Accenture study shows how Gen AI can go on to upskill things like online grocery shopping to tailor suggestions and recommendations for customers

Generative AI (Gen AI) is set to revolutionise areas across the economy, and a recent report by IT professional services company Accenture finds retail is no exception.

The report, titled "Retail reinvented: Unleashing the power of generative AI, reveals how Gen AI is poised to transform the retail industry, reshaping how consumers shop, employees work, and businesses operate. 

In it, it highlights the sentiment of those in retail to the technology: 75% of retail executives view Gen AI as instrumental to their business's revenue growth.

This optimism is reflected in investment plans, with 93% of retail CxOs planning to scale up their investments in AI and generative AI over the next 3-5 years.

Where will Gen AI be implemented?

Generative AI is changing the way consumers discover brands and products, ask for and receive information and experience shopping. 

One pertinent example is Instacart. Instead of customers logging onto its application and searching for items, it began offering a plug-in that allows customers to request recipes, and then it takes care of ordering all the ingredients and delivering them to the customer’s door.

Instacart allows customers to request recipes, and then it takes care of ordering all the ingredients and delivery

The report also points to the Gen AI shopping assistant from Bricorama, one of France’s leading DIY retailers. When a customer is looking to paint a new space, their ‘pAInt’ assistant provides inspiration and recommendations while building a shopping cart. 

These highlight how the analytical abilities of Gen AI to tailor, predict and augment the customer experience, augmenting not only the specification of their picks, but even taking the opportunity to upsell where relevant. 

This personalisation and tailoring of the customer journey is already seeing wide use across other forms of B2C platforms. 

In anticipation of the end of third-party cookies, Yahoo launched Yahoo Creative, which will give business customers the ability to use AI to develop dynamic ads that adapt to user habits of those it’s trying to target.

Essentially, Gen AI can serve as a personal shopper, helping collect the items and even offer those relevant that perhaps the user may not have seen. 

This personalisation is proving popular. On the consumer side, the report finds a growing openness to AI-driven shopping experiences. Approximately half of the consumers surveyed are willing to use conversational AI for advice and recommendations across various product categories. 

Equally, consumers are shown to have high expectations for AI assistants, with the majority expressing a desire for features such as managing tasks on their behalf, providing surprise suggestions, and working within budget and time constraints.

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Challenges implementing it

Yet, the adoption of generative AI is not without challenges. Nearly a third (31%) of retail executives believe that a lack of skills will hinder their companies from fully utilising the technology, while 36% fear that workers won't adopt it due to a lack of understanding.

This fear of not being able to embrace AI change is not unfounded. Already, Chief AI Officers have emerged as a role in order to steer companies’ transition to this new way of working with the technology, and Salesforces’ new AI Center has made upskilling opportunities for the workforce a key part of its mission.

Accenture's analysis suggests 36% of time spent in retail functional roles is susceptible to automation, while 28% has the potential for augmentation.

These findings therefore underscore the transformative potential of Gen AI in retail, but they also highlight the need for a strategic and human-centred approach to implementation. 

Accenture asserts that the retail leaders who take a comprehensive view of reimagining large-scale processes across the business—while successfully employing human-centred change programs—may emerge as the winners in the industry as it adopts Gen AI.

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