Generative AI is fundamentally changing how retailers operate, supercharging productivity levels and providing a conversational holistic experience for their customers. Microsoft and Cognizant reveal the first three moves firms can take to maximise on AI

Many businesses in the retail sector have already introduced generative AI into their operations, from marketing to retail media, and plenty are reaping the benefits. For others, though, such a disruptive change feels understandably daunting.

Introducing generative AI is, however, a must-do for companies that want to continue growing, innovating and maintaining their loyal customer base.

For those who want to make the initial move, it is important to take three basic steps to begin with in order to see return on investment.

1. Get ready (really) for AI

Preparing to introduce generative AI into a business is no different from prior technology advancements.

Yet, the impact this tech will have is infinitely bigger, because generative AI isn’t just modernisation; it is a fundamental paradigm shift in the way that organisations operate.

Therefore, the first thing organisations should do is ensure they have a business case to introduce generative AI and a clear goal of what they aim to achieve by doing so.

“Generative AI isn’t just modernisation; it is a fundamental paradigm shift in the way that organisations operate”

Having this objective written down in a charter or plan is an important part of reaching an optimal outcome.

A goal should not only be straightforward to measure progress against but should also be easy for people to embrace and aim towards.

It is important to understand that not all generative AI applications have to be system-changing as it is often the little things that make the biggest difference.

It is key to keep business stakeholders involved as they are central to finding the most useful potential applications for new technology.

Retailers should start by testing small applications for generative AI, looking for the no-risk ways of trialling this technology, which can be quickly applied as test cases.

2. Scale generative AI, team first

After the technology has been introduced, scaling up is quite a simple task. However, ensuring employees are on board skill-wise is slightly more complicated.

Involving and training teams to reap the benefits of generative AI and derive its highest possible value is key.

If employees don’t know how to prompt it efficiently and end up not trusting the technology, then they are not going to use it or get great results and are likely to end up feeling frustrated that the system isn’t giving them any value.

Once people know how to utilise generative AI with everyday tasks, companies can have dozens of employees with more time on their hands to dedicate to aspects of their job that truly require the human element.

3. Drive value

Once teams are up and running with generative AI, there are three main ways in which it can bring value to a business, depending on its objectives.

First, the time and resources saved can be invested in driving innovation to either improve existing products or create brand-new ones.

A second option is to scale a product or service by taking it to new markets and competing with competitors that many companies never thought they could.

Finally, the third competitive advantage generative AI can bring is deflationary – in other words, producing exactly what was produced before but significantly reducing production and maintenance costs.

One step closer to generative AI

The key to bringing generative AI into a business is to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Establishing a clear goal for teams to focus on and ensuring that employees have the necessary training to use the technology correctly are two key steps that all businesses should take.

This is a turning point in the retail sector. It is an exciting time for the industry and the future looks bright.

Watching businesses evolve into the best versions of themselves and fulfil their ambitions supported by generative AI is going to be exciting, and we can’t wait to see what the retail sector achieves in the next couple of years.

Find here further insights and research around generative AI and how Cognizant and Microsoft work together to build up the skills, knowledge and processes to move ideas into reality. If you’re thinking about introducing elements of AI into your business or just want to talk through possibilities, reach out to our dedicated team