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Generative AI – a technology to watch in retail

artificial intelligence
Generative AI is having a major impact on retail.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) dominated the retail technology landscape in 2023 and is poised to continue doing so in 2024.

Based on machine learning (ML), generative AI can create new content and ideas, including conversations, stories, images, videos, and music. The November 2022 public debut of the ChatGPT AI platform, which interacts with users in a conversational style that mimics human interaction and uses ML to continually refine and improve its responses, marked the arrival of leading-edge generative AI as a mainstream retail solution.

Since then, generative AI has rapidly built momentum in retail that should only accelerate in 2023. Here are three retail enterprise workflows the leading-edge technology shows particular promise to transform.

Customer engagement

Generative AI first came to prominence in retail as a sophisticated engine for supporting human-like chatbot interactions, and certainly many retail organizations deployed the technology in chatbot solutions.

One example is Instacart, which offers Ask Instacart, an AI-based chatbot that utilizes the ChatGPI API, as well as its own AI models and proprietary catalog data, to provide customers with product recommendations that are intuitively organized, as well as additional relevant information about food preparation, product attributes and dietary considerations. 

But generative AI-based customer engagement tools range well beyond chatbots. Online consumer electronics retailer Newegg introduced generative AI customer solutions throughout the year, including a number of chatbots as well automated summaries of customer reviews and automated accuracy checks of product descriptions.

In addition, eBay provides generative AI-based features that enable sellers to add in a title and category for a listing, with the rest of the listing automatically filled in; as well as to take or upload a photo in the eBay app and have generative AI fill in item information details, including titles and descriptions.

Proprietary technology development

Amazon and Walmart are both actively developing their own in-house generative AI platforms. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud services platform of Amazon, offers generative AI model called Bedrock, and is in a strategic collaboration with San Francisco-based generative AI developer Anthropic that includes investing up to $4 billion in the company and holding a minority ownership position. 

Meanwhile, Walmart offers employees the Walmart GenAI Playground, an early-stage internal  tool where they can explore and learn about the technology. The discounter also includes a generative AI assistant in a new employee app.

Walmart is additionally developing generative AI tools to assist customers with search and complex purchases, researching how the technology can aid consumer decision-making.

Employee augmentation

Direct-to-consumer intimate apparel retailer Adore Me is testing Duet AI for Google Workspace, which embeds generative AI across Google communication and collaboration apps including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Meet, with employees. 

As a result, Adore Me hopes to reduce manual workload on its employees and provide corporate teams with more time to focus on creativity and innovation.

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