Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, February 29, 2024

IBM Report Highlights Consumer Interest in AI-Driven Shopping 

The retail industry is facing mounting pressure from the economic headwinds and evolving consumer expectations. To better understand the widening gap between shopper demands and the current retail offering, IBM has conducted a global study on this matter. 

IBM released the findings of its third biennial consumer study named “Revolutionize retail with AI everywhere: Customers won't wait." The findings of the report were compiled by surveying 20,000 global consumers across 26 countries on their digital habits and use of AI. 

One of the key findings of the report is that consumers are dissatisfied with retail experiences. Only 9 percent of the respondents were content with in-store shopping, while only 14 percent were content with online shopping. 

Interestingly, consumers surveyed shared their strong interest in using AI technology to enhance their shopping experience. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they would like to use AI applications and 80 percent who haven’t used the technology for shopping reported an interest in trying it. 

While the consumer interest in using AI seems high, the report showed less consumer satisfaction in using current AI assistants. Only about one-third of the respondents who used a virtual assistant were satisfied with the experience. Nearly 20 percent were so disappointed that they didn't want to use AI virtual assistants again. 

To understand how AI assistants could help shoppers in the future, Datanami got in touch with IBM executive Luq Niazi, Global Managing Partner, Industries & Global Consumer Industry Leader, IBM Consulting. 

(William Barton/Shutterstock)

Niazi shared that “IBM’s 2024 Consumer Study reveals a growing interest among consumers in using AI tools during their shopping journey, with more than half saying they would like to use virtual assistants as they shop. However, there's a significant gap between consumer expectations and the current capabilities of these AI tools across the spectrum of retailers they buy from.”

According to Niazi, most current AI assistants fall short in their ability to understand and respond effectively to user queries in the shopping moment. He shared that “Retailers can transform the shopping experience by offering personalized, efficient service while also freeing up human customer service representatives for more complex requests, ultimately leading to higher consumer satisfaction and a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving retail market.”

The market indicators are pointing to a need to adopt AI technology in the consumer retail experience. Similar trends are seen in other industries. IBM’s recent CEO Guide to Generative AI shows that 84 percent of companies expect to invest in and use text-based generative AI assistants with customers by 2025. In an earlier study, IBM found that three out of four CEOs surveyed believe the organization with the most advanced generative AI will have a competitive advantage.

There seems to be keen interest in organizations to invest in AI to harness the enormous potential of this technology. The IBM study on retail experience highlights an opportunity for retailers to integrate AI into both digital and physical shopping experiences to meet evolving consumer demands. This will help create shopping experiences that are efficient, intuitive, and personalized. 

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