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The Rise of Generative AI and Its Role in Shaping Retail Strategies

Navigating technological advancements and strategic implementations in the retail landscape

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Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a focal point in the retail industry, sparking discussions and explorations into its current and future impacts on various organizations. At the Total Retail Tech Conference, technology and marketing leaders from several retail companies, including Sephora, Kendra Scott, Solo Brands, and Adorama, engaged in a panel session to discuss how generative AI is shaping the future of retail. The session, which was moderated by Brendan Witcher, Vice President, Principal Analyst for Forrester, explored whether the hype around generative AI is warranted, with insights indicating that generative AI and AI have been around for a while but were not visible to many consumers. The adoption standpoint of generative AI has performed well as people of all age levels and skillsets have started consuming it, thereby enhancing awareness.

A use case of generative AI was illustrated through an experience shared by Jenna Posner, Chief Digital Officer of Solo Brands, regarding her previous role as the Chief Digital Officer of the global sneaker and streetwear brand, Snipes. When Snipes decided to launch a dropship program for order fulfillment, they were faced with the challenge of rewriting product content for over 10,000 SKUs and styles to avoid devaluing the brand's existing site content from an SEO perspective. Snipes opted to use generative AI to rewrite the content, accomplishing about two weeks' worth of work in approximately two hours. Although the technology is not perfect and can produce irrelevant or inaccurate information, it proved to be an invaluable tool for quickly and efficiently publishing the necessary product content to establish its dropship program.

To get started with generative AI, the panelists provided several tips and insights. Sree Sreedhararaj, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer at Sephora, advised starting to play around with ChatGPT and trying different things with available options. Jenna Posner emphasized the importance of testing, measuring, and becoming a champion of the technology. Jim Forester, Chief Information Officer at Kendra Scott, suggested educating oneself and finding a strategy that aligns with the organization's goals. Hani Batla, Chief Information and Technology Officer at Adorama, encouraged playing with the technology, noting that it will change significantly in the coming weeks, months, and years, and emphasized the importance of educating oneself and bringing other people in the organization along for the journey.

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