Mar 19 2024

Deploying AI in 2024? Here’s Where Retailers Should Focus

IT decision-makers should consider five key use cases when deciding how to apply generative artificial intelligence practically.

When generative artificial intelligence started making headlines in 2022, IT decision-makers in the retail industry took notice. According to new research by Google Cloud, about 75 percent of U.S. ITDMs in the retail sector believe that the technology “can be practically deployed in their business” and that it will impact their industry this year. Generative AI is expected to drive this impact across five key areas in 2024: customer service automation, conversational commerce, product catalog management, creative assistance and internal development support.

ITDMs must consider a variety of factors to select the right technology for each use case.

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1. Customer Service Automation

“Speed is the most important component of customer experience and the only one that never pauses or goes backward,” notes Forbes. And this need for speed isn’t limited to the checkout line; it expands to customer service.

A recent study found that customers dislike having to contact a business more than once. So, it’s not surprising that 82 percent of consumers who have never before used AI for shopping want to employ it for customer service-related matters, according to IBM. By automating FAQs, appointment scheduling and more, generative AI can help streamline customer service with less human intervention. Retailers should assess their current customer service inefficiencies and select tools such as AI chatbots to help solve issues.

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2. Conversational Commerce

Chatbots are becoming more common, but their ability to facilitate conversational exchanges can be lacking. Retailers need kinder AI bots as conversational commerce becomes a mainstay.

“Ultimately, conversational commerce is about building meaningful, personalized connections with customers,” notes Salesforce. “It combines the convenience of digital communication with the warmth of natural, human language, enabling businesses to grow sales and foster long-term loyalty.”

Retailers can train AI bots to be more personal, but they don’t need to limit themselves to traditional chatbots. They can also expand to voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, and to copilots for shoppers to support customers with personalized recommendations and more.

“The key to successful conversational commerce comes from understanding consumer intent to purchase and guiding them through the process with conversational AI,” notes Jon Jessup, founder and CEO of conversational commerce solutions company 1440, in a Salesforce blog post.

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3. Product Catalog Management

Customers can’t purchase products if they never discover them. Mismanaged product catalogs can lead to low product discovery, which in turn “leads to inaccuracies, poor recommendations and reduced conversion rates,” according to an article on SAP’s website. “Inconsistent product tagging and inaccurate descriptions, which are often handled manually by key account or merchandising managers, can ensure products are hidden beyond customers’ reach.”

By assigning these tasks to AI, retailers can mitigate cataloging errors and save customers from a game of hide and seek — a game that customers are likely to quit. Retailers can use generative AI tools such as Shopify Magic to write search engine optimization-driven product descriptions, edit product image backgrounds, automatically tag and categorize products and more. And when used in conjunction with smart shelves and other AI-powered hardware for inventory management, retailers can easily update their catalogs to reflect real-time product availability.


The share of retail decision-makers who want to use generative AI to "curate bespoke images and creative content for campaigns and editorial placements.”

Source: Google Cloud, "Google Cloud Shares New Research on 2024 Outlook on Generative AI in Retail," Jan. 11, 2024

4. Creative Assistance

Generative AI can augment human creativity, and retailers want to do just that. Google Cloud’s research shows that 44 percent of surveyed retail decision-makers “want to use generative AI to empower retail creative teams to curate bespoke images and creative content for campaigns and editorial placements and also enable one-to-one personalization.”

Retailers should consider assessing and implementing tools that are applicable across platforms, including social media. For instance, in addition to using TikTok’s Creative Assistant or Snapchat’s generative AI features, retailers can leverage Adobe’s myriad AI features to support all creative content. To ensure that these creative efforts are maximized, retailers can also use predictive data analytics to segment and personalize consumer outreach based on anticipated consumer behavior.

5.Internal Development Support

Google Cloud’s research shows that nearly 4 in 10 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.” Many of the tools that can bolster product catalog management and creative thinking can be of assistance in this deployment, but comprehensive data procurement must come first.

Retailers should seek out tools that can map data from disparate sources or integrate with existing enterprise resource planning systems. These tools, such as Microsoft’s Power Automate, can prove instrumental in gathering and analyzing the holistic data necessary to automate robust internal development assets.

getty images/whyframestudio

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