6 in 10 retailers to use AI for better shopping experience

Boosting productivity and improving ROI are also key motivations
6 in 10 retailers to use AI for better shopping experience
Artificial Intelligence is shaping the world’s retail landscape

Honeywell’s newest AI in Retail survey shows that about six in 10 retailers are keen on embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Computer Vision (CV) technologies in the next 12 months.

Survey respondents said they want to leverage AI mainly to improve both physical and online shopping experiences. 

The survey involved about 1,000 retail directors across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the United States. The participants occupy leadership roles in operations, customer experience, and information technology (IT).

Survey results

In the survey, 59 percent of the respondents stated that they plan to adopt new technologies to improve customer experience. Meanwhile, 49 percent said that they will use the technologies to boost productivity. About 44 percent note that they will deploy AI, ML, and CV to maximize return on investment (ROI).

Only seven percent of responders said that reducing human labor is their primary objective. This figure demonstrates that AI is there to complement, rather than replace, the future workforce.

Among the surveyed retailers, 38 percent are already using such technologies for certain regions or use cases. About 35 percent are leveraging them on a larger scale. Additionally, 24 percent are either in the pilot phase or discussing their implementation. A mere three percent revealed that they were not using said technologies at all.

About half (48 percent) said that AI, ML, and CV are the top technologies that would wield significant influence over the retail industry in the next three to five years.

Honeywell’s Minda Xu recognized that “new technologies like AI, ML and CV have the potential to enable retailers to deliver personalized experiences, optimize operations, improve inventory management and prevent fraud — all of which enhance customer satisfaction and can lead to increased sales and profitability.” She is the vice president and general manager for High Growth Regions, Safety and Productivity Solutions.

Middle East’s retail environment

In the Middle East, the retail industry is projected to achieve a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4 percent in the next two years. This means that the industry is expected to grow in value from $360.4 bn in 2020 to $438.5 bn in 2025.

Read: What the future of retail looks like in the UAE

Xu acknowledged that in the region’s swiftly developing retail landscape, “there is greater attention on the customer experience along with increased need to innovate in a hyper-competitive environment.” 

According to a PwC Middle East report, some 43 percent of consumers frequently shop in-store. The top reason for buying in physical shops is the opportunity to see products firsthand before making a purchase. Meanwhile, 40 percent of consumers buy goods online via their smartphones. More than 30 percent of consumers switch shopping channels, alternating between online and in-store shopping or using a mixture of both. 

Despite online shopping being an industry standard, another 40 percent said that they are concerned about giving personal data on websites even on social media. This emphasizes the need for retailers to also prioritize security measures for them to build trust. 

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