A study commissioned by Google Cloud found 81% of retail decision makers felt an urgency when it comes to adopting generative AI technologies, with 72% indicating they are ready to deploy it in the coming year.
In a Google survey, 75% of the 274 C-suite executives responding said generative AI can be practically deployed in their businesses. Further, 78% asserted their belief generative AI will have an evident industry impact during the next 12 months, and 95% maintained generative AI would affect customer experience.
Most retailers participating in the study saw potential for measurable change across their businesses, with 75% of retail decision makers saying they believe generative AI is a way for retailers to reinvent themselves. Of those initiating generative AI deployments in 2023, 72% of retail executives felt satisfied with their performance and outcomes, while 28% expressed disappointment..
About half of retailers surveyed have started generative AI initiatives for customer service automation, Google noted, with 25% of respondents currently piloting and 22% already deploying them.
The study produced five use cases that retailers have embraced:
- Customer Service Automation. With inquiry resolutions, appointment scheduling and completing transactions among the focus areas, 59% of respondents want to use generative AI to streamline customer service with less human intervention, providing conversation summaries, automating tasks and ultimately driving conversion.
- Marketing Support and Product Description Generation. Just a point less than half of respondents want to use generative AI to accelerate product categorization and generate great customer-centric marketing copy.
- Creative Assistance. In moving to empower creative teams, 44% of respondents want to use generative AI to curate bespoke images and content for marketing campaigns and editorial placements as well as enable one-to-one personalization.
- Conversational Commerce. Four in 10 retail decision-makers want to use generative AI to address shopper inquiries with interactive responses beyond product recommendations.
- Store Associate Knowledge and Support. Inside their operations, 38% of respondents want to use generative AI to automatically develop internal knowledge articles from existing data sources such as product documentation, customer support tickets and employee training materials.
To continue supporting technology innovation in the coming year, more than half of retail decision makers surveyed said they plan on increasing the number of technical positions across several job functions. The leading positions include data scientists, machine learning engineers, prompt engineers and AI-related product managers and developers.
“Generative AI has come so far in one year, shifting from a barely known concept to an urgently needed answer for numerous business challenges,” said Amy Eschliman, managing director, retail industry solutions at Google Cloud. “Twenty twenty-three was a period of experimentation for retailers and many invested in learning where generative AI could have the biggest impact. In 2024, we expect to see retail decision makers put this technology into production to improve shopping experiences, increase productivity, and fuel growth.”