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UK retailers lead the way in embracing AI

By Huw Hughes



It looks like AI is on the rise in retail, and for good reason. According to a study from the Capgemini Research Institute, the technology - which Capgemini predicts could save retailers as much as 300 billion dollars (235 billion pounds) - is being used by over a quarter (28 percent) of retailers today, a significant jump from 17 percent in 2017, and 4 percent in 2016.

The study - which surveyed 400 executives from retailers across the US, UK, France, Germany, China, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands - found that AI is being embraced most by the UK, with 39 percent of its retailers now deploying AI initiatives.

But how can AI help? Well, in a few ways. The report calculates that retailers can save as much as 300 billion dollars (235 billion pounds) in the future by scaling AI deployments across their entire value chain. But Capgemini also highlights the fact that just 1 percent of the retailers using AI are currently doing that, with the majority of them instead focusing on sales and marketing.

Retailers coming to terms with the challenges of AI

AI also fuels job creation, according to the study, with 71 percent of retailers saying AI is helping them to create jobs - over two-thirds (68 percent) of them at a senior level. 75 percent of retailers said that AI has not replaced any jobs in their organization so far.

As the number of retailers embracing AI technology increases, expectations about its implementations are also becoming more realistic. While 78 percent of retailers said they had the skills within their organization to take advantage of AI technology in 2018, the number dropped to 53 percent in 2017.

Commenting on the study in a statement, Kees Jacobs, vice president, global consumer products and retail sector at Capgemini, said: “For global retailers, it appears reality has kicked in regarding AI, both in terms of what the technology can achieve and what they need to do to get there. Of course deploying and scaling will be the next big objective, but retailers should be wary not to chase return on investment figures without also considering the customer experience.

“Our research shows a clear imbalance of organizations prioritizing cost, data and ROI when deploying AI, with only a small minority considering the customer pain points also. These two factors need to be given equal weighting if long-term AI growth, with all of the benefits it brings, is to be achieved.”


Photo credit: Pexels, Artem Bali

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