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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

AI Adoption in Retail

General general overview, not enough direct examples. 

Forecasting AI Adoption in Retail: A Mixed Bag  By Alex Woodie in Datanami

You don’t have to look far to see the impact that artificial intelligence is having on the world around us. Across multiple facets of work and play, we’re surrounded by smart devices and applications that are strangely prescient at anticipating our wants and needs. But one industry where AI adoption has been surprisingly slow is retail — particularly around demand forecasting, where AI’s potential has scarcely been scratched.

A 2018 report from the McKinsey Global Institute concluded that AI has the potential to boost global GDP by 16% by 2030. In dollar terms, that’s a gain of $13 trillion, which is a huge number, to be sure. Companies today are scrambling to get their piece of that AI bounty – and at the same time, to avoid being devoured as the AI party unfolds.

Large retailers certainly are aware of what’s at stake. Retail is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, accounting for $2.6 trillion in sales in 2016, which is nearly 15% of the country’s output. The retail sector employs nearly 29 million people directly, and supports another 13 million jobs indirectly.

Clearly, retailers are aware of AI, and have moved to adopt AI to improve their business processes. While they’ve had success in some aspects of the retail equation, few of them have figured out how to use AI to address some of more complex aspects of their businesses, such as demand forecasting and merchandise planning.

That’s the opinion of Nikki Baird, who’s the vice president of retail innovation at Aptos, a developer of enterprise software solutions for retailers. Baird has dozens of years of experience in the retail world, and has seen AI’s roll-out go surprisingly slow.

“You hear about all kinds of evolutionarily algorithms and genetic algorithms and all of the more hard-core future of AI kinds of stuff, and none of that is currently getting applied within the retail space,” Baird tells Datanami. “There’s even a question about whether some of the neural net kinds of algorithms and AI actually are applicable in the retail space.”  .... "

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