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AI at retail “fuels job creation and lowers customer complaints”

New research has dispelled some of the mystique around artificial intelligence’s value to retail businesses and revealed how it can affect employees and customers alike.

The Capgemini Research Institute has calculated a $300 billion+ opportunity for those retail companies that are able to scale and expand the scope of their existing deployments. However, it is not straightforward, as its recent report also found that just 1% of use cases by retailers have achieved this level of deployment today.

The study looked at 400 global retailers that are implementing AI use cases at different stages of maturity – a group that represents 23% of the global retail market by revenue. The study further included an extensive analysis of public data from the world’s largest 250 retailers, by revenue.

Comparing this data to 2017 equivalents, it delivers a series of reality checks that not only show how far AI has come in terms of concrete returns, but how much value it can deliver if retailers begin to prioritise less complex deployments, and diversify their focus.

The research found that over a quarter (28%) of retailers are deploying AI today, with a significant increase of AI deployments from 2017 (17%), and a seven-fold increase from 2016 (4%).

It also reveals that 71% of retailers say AI is creating jobs today, with over two-thirds (68%) of the jobs being at a senior level (coordinator level or above). Meanwhile, 75% declared that AI has not replaced any jobs in their organisation so far. Those who did say jobs have been cut put the number at 25 or lower.

What’s more, Capgemini found that those using AI have lower customer complaints and higher sales. The report found that 98% of respondents using AI in customer-facing functions expect the number of customer complaints to reduce by up to 15%, while 99% expect AI to increase sales by up to 15%.

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 ROI figures without also considering the customer experience.”

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