Which retailers are ahead of the generative AI curve?
While most retailers are still experimenting with generative AI or creating an AI strategy, some retailers have already rolled out generative AI tools, policies and experiences.
Here are some of our experts’ favorite real-time examples:
Associate efficiency: Walmart's internal AI-powered personal assistant for remote workers
“While it began as an experimental generative AI “playground” for remote workers, Walmart Canada’s generative AI tool “My Assistant” has officially rolled out as a collaborative chatbot across the company. The technology is meant to help associates simplify tedious tasks, like taking meeting notes or summarizing large documents. In the future, the retailer hopes to integrate My Assistant with the company’s intranet and HR platforms as a self-service portal that can offer on-demand information to all employees.”
Sudip Mazumder, Senior Vice President and Retail Industry Lead
Customer experience: Amazon’s AI-generated customer review summaries
“Leveraging the power of customer feedback, Amazon has introduced an AI-powered feature that generates concise summaries of product reviews, enabling buyers to make informed decisions without sifting through a sea of text entries, star ratings and customer photos. This feature distills the essence of customer reviews, highlighting key themes and extracting valuable insights from repeated phrases. With a few clicks, customers can delve deeper into specific aspects of the product, guided by the AI-generated summary. Amazon's vast collection of reviews has transformed it into a major resource for customers, regardless of their purchase intention. This feature holds immense influence on consumers, and reducing review fraud through technology will only amplify its impact.”
Jackie Walker, Senior Director of Retail Customer Experience
Customer experience: eBay’s product description generator for third-party sellers
“eBay is leveraging generative AI to streamline the product listing process for third-party sellers. By analyzing product photos, AI can automatically generate comprehensive descriptions, including titles, product details and release dates. This innovation significantly reduces the time and effort required for sellers to create product listings, although the feature is still in the early stages.”
Sara Alloy, Head of Retail Experience
Capability building: Walmart’s commitment to use AI ethically and responsibly
“Walmart's Responsible AI Pledge outlines six key principles for ethical AI development and deployment, aiming to ensure AI is used responsibly and beneficially while safeguarding customer trust and privacy. Walmart is the first retailer to publicly release guardrails in this manner, encouraging other retailers to adopt similar principles.”
Kevin Drummond, Managing Director
The drawbacks of generative AI for retailers
Despite the successful examples above, rolling out generative AI processes and experiences in the early stages of the technology poses a number of risks and challenges that retailers should be aware of.
The creator of ChatGPT previously said it was a “mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now” due to its propensity to provide strikingly believable yet nonfactual answers without the ability to vet or validate them—and it takes significant investment to code in this capability.
ChatGPT’s creator also noted that “regulation will be critical and will take time to figure out.” Retailers looking to develop their own generative AI models before industry regulation will need to systematically teach AI literacy and create ethical policies for their associates to avoid consumer backlash from generative AI gone wrong.
“Brands need to be very transparent with people about when they’re communicating with AI and make those choices wisely,” says Alloy. “We’ve already seen public outrage over inappropriate usage of the technology in sensitive situations.”