Salesforce: 17 Percent of Shoppers Have Used Generative AI

Salesforce suggests “the retail industry is again on the precipice of major disruption” based on consumer adoption of artificial intelligence, which is being used to change shopping habits and inform purchases through things like personalization, browsing suggestions and recommendations based on past habits and visualizations. Other popular use cases include AI-generated marketing assets and customer service agents. Based on a study conducted in May and June of this year involving 2,400 shoppers and 1,125 retail decision makers, Salesforce notes that one in six shoppers, or 17 percent, have already used generative AI for “purchase inspiration.”

While Salesforce explains that “shopping in physical stores is in a post-pandemic renaissance” — with e-retailing dropping to 51 percent from an estimated 59 percent in 2021, the company predicts “the digital pendulum is set to swing again” thanks to AI.

Based on the new study, which Salesforce is making available free, digital transactions are “projected to grow to 56 percent of the total in 2025 as people traverse digital and physical touch points through their shopping journey.”

As a result, 92 percent of retailers “say they are investing more in AI this year,” with 60 percent already “in the strategy or execution phase.” According to MediaPost, retailers are using generative AI to, among other things:

  • Generate product recommendations for store associates to use in-store (59 percent).
  • Create a conversational digital shopping assistant to help shoppers find the right product or service (55 percent).
  • Create virtual models for product retail pages (52 percent).
  • Create personalized product bundles (51 percent).

The Salesforce findings “are surprising, given the newness of the technology,” writes MediaPost, noting “shoppers are also interested in generative AI, perhaps to a more limited degree,” with 52 percent of those polled expressing interested “in using it for researching electronics and appliances, 18 percent very much so.”

ZDNet says the information in the report “doesn’t come as much of a surprise” with companies ranging from  “Newegg, Shopify, Amazon, Mercari, Zoom, Zillow, and Redfin” having already publicly announced they are using generative AI.

MediaPost writes of AI driving the retail industry’s “inexorable shift” to e-commerce, with Salesforce estimating that for stores globally, “44 percent of purchases will be in-store,” noting “that total will be 39 percent in the U.S., the remainder relying on brand websites or shopping apps (14 percent), retail websites or shopping apps (21 percent), online marketplaces (18 percent) and newer digital channels and delivery apps (10 percent).”

The drive to digitalization will help margin-challenged retailers cope with increased shipping costs and inventory management, providing greater efficiencies, MediaPost reports. Amazon recently announced it has achieved positive results after revamping its warehousing and fulfillment.

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