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Survey: Retailers see value, challenges in AI

A new survey of retail executives reveals artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving quickly in the industry, with some growing pains along the way.

According to “Thriving in an AI World,” a KPMG survey of 950 business executives, including 150 from retail organizations, 81% of retail respondents said AI is moderately to fully functional in their enterprise. This figure is up 29 percentage points from the retailer response in the 2019 version of the study.

About half (49%) of retail respondents said AI adoption is moving faster than it should, up 26 percentage points from 2019. Most remaining retail respondents (44%) said AI adoption is moving at the appropriate speed, with the remaining 7% saying it is moving slower than it should. More than half (53%) said the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced AI implementation and sped up its adoption.

According to seven in 10 (69%) retail respondents, AI initiatives at their organization have delivered somewhat or significantly more value than promised. Another 26% said AI initiatives have delivered as much value as promised, with only 5% saying they have delivered somewhat or significantly less value than promised.

Looking at issues related to AI in the retail industry, retail respondents rated cybersecurity breaches (47%) and potential bias (45%) as the top two risks AI technology poses to retail. Sixty-nine percent said their company struggles to select the best AI technologies, and close to nine in 10 (87%) believe the government should be involved in regulating AI technology, up 24 points from the 2019 edition of the study.

In other findings, a leading 31% of retail respondents said chatbots and intelligent agents are the AI technology which will have the greatest impact on their organization.

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