At least six in 10 retailers plan to adopt artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and computer vision (CV) technologies over the next year to enhance the shopping experience offered within stores and online, according to a survey by Honeywell. 

The research also indicates that retailers see the new technology as complementing and enhancing their workforce and not eliminating jobs. 38 per cent of those surveyed are using these technologies for select use cases or regions, 35 per cent are using them on a larger scale, and 24 per cent are in a pilot phase or in discussions.  

Only 3 per cent  said they were not using these technologies at all. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents identified AI, ML, and CV as the top technologies expected to have a significant impact on the retail industry over the next three to five years. 

“In today’s retail environment, there is greater attention on the customer experience along with an increased need to innovate in a hyper-competitive environment. New technologies like AI, ML and CV have the potential to enable retailers to deliver personalised experiences, optimise operations, improve inventory management and prevent fraud – all of which enhance customer satisfaction and can lead to increased sales and profitability,” said George Koutsaftes, President and CEO of Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. 

Highly motivated

Surveyed retailers said they are highly motivated to implement new technologies that help them achieve their goals. The top three reasons leaders gave for deploying new technologies included improving customer experience (59 per cent), driving greater productivity (49 per cent), and achieving cost efficiencies / return on investment (44 per cent)

Survey respondents predict that AI, ML, and CV will bring the greatest value to four key functions in retail - automating and supporting day-to-day tasks, such as picking and scheduling; supporting customer service, including live chat, for digital channels; creating targeted customer marketing campaigns and improving inventory management.

Despite the large potential impact of the new technologies – AI, ML, and CV – the survey data indicates three primary barriers to widespread adoption, which include budget restrictions (39 per cent), difficulty in demonstrating business value (29 per cent) and lack of internal expertise to maintain the technology (21 per cent).