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Generative AI: Using artificial intelligence to make human impact.Learn how

A person online shopping on their phone with ai data overlaid

Shoppers rejoice—AI Commerce is making shopping personal again.

Artificial intelligence is no stranger to eCommerce—in fact, retailers have been leveraging the considerable power of AI for years to handle customer requests, streamline inventory, predict consumer trends and more.

But the recent arrival of a new generation of machine learning has proven to be a proverbial retail gamechanger: Generative AI.

In this episode of Impact TV, Disrupting Commerce with Gen AI For the Better, we’re unpacking how this transformative technology is already having a profound impact on retailers’ bottom lines—and on consumers’ lives. Why? Part of the reason could be that unlike previous nascent technologies, Generative AI (GenAI) was made available to the general population—leveling the playing field by putting the power directly into the hands of the people, not just brands.

First rolled out into the market in mid-2023, the benefits of GenAI have been felt directly by end-users rather than being incubated and potentially limited by corporations—and the potential use cases of this revolutionary technology are almost limitless.

According to Forbes, the AI-enabled eCommerce market is projected to reach US$16.8 billion by 2030 —so naturally, online retailers have been scrambling to roll generative AI into their tech stacks.

Just like eCommerce disrupted commerce, AI Commerce—or eCommerce powered by AI—is significantly going to increase convenience,” says Simon James, International Lead and Group VP of Data & AI for Publicis Sapient. “ Therefore my best guess is that it’s going to drive adoption and disrupt eCommerce as we know it Today.”

More than a ‘shiny new technology,’ AI Commerce provides real value to people in ever more practical ways—driving impact by harnessing the power of technology to make a difference. And as consumer expectations continue to skyrocket, the rise of AI-powered eCommerce has been nothing short of mercurial.

James goes on to illustrate a real-life example of the value AI Commerce brings to the table, and how it can streamline a family’s weekly grocery shopping. As we all know, it can take hours to plan meals, make grocery lists, browse aisles and commute back & forth—but with AI, consumers can quickly auto-generate lists of meals for the week, determine what ingredients are needed, comparison shop and even order online for hassle-free home delivery. And that’s only the beginning.

How Business Leaders are Approaching AI Commerce

While there’s little doubt that AI Commerce takes efficiency and customer experience to a whole new level, some Fortune 100 leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach to diving into the artificial intelligence deep-end—at least until they get some key questions answered.

Here are top five questions uncovered by our own Simon James that the C-Suite wants answered before greenlighting a potential AI-enabled eCommerce investment:

  1. Who’s accountable within your organization? Does it require the set-up of a new role or new department, or should this discipline be an extension of an existing team?
  2. Where is the value? What areas will yield the highest value when AI commerce is applied?
  3. How do you mitigate risk? No one wants to expose themselves to unnecessary risks—especially with such a new technology.  Many leaders seem to be looking at others to be the “guinea pigs” and learning from others mistakes.
  4. What about communications? What do I say to my employees, shareholders, and the street?
  5. How is this going to influence my workforce? What will this mean as far as upskilling and reskilling among my teams?

Beyond simply checking financial boxes, leaders must also be mindful of the kind of the AI-driven experience they want to create—positioning the technology as an amplifier of their brand, certainly not a replacement for what consumers already love.

“The ethos really becomes the guidepost for what we’re going to do with AI,” says Indy Cho, Associate Vice President of Data Products and Data Science at Costco. “If you don’t have that to begin with, AI is just going to be something that’s disruptive in a negative way for retailers—disrupting trust with members and consumers.”

But the lingering question remains: how best to balance the human touch with emerging technologies like GenAI? Is it more about customer delight and discovery—or more about supercharging efficiency? Depending on your vision, the AI Commerce solution might vary.

But no matter your vertical or your brand ethos, one thing is certain.

Online retail is about to get a lot more (artificially) intelligent.

Curious as to how Publicis Sapient can help your organizations tap into the limitless power of AI-enabled eCommerce?

How will your organization drive impact?
Digital can solve complex challenges and have a real impact on people’s lives. As a digital transformation partner, Publicis Sapient helps clients do good for others while creating real business value.