Morrisons Butcher fresh meat aisle

Morrisons uses AI to analyse data on weather patterns and public holidays to predict demand at individual store level

Ninety-six per cent of UK retailers using artificial intelligence have seen customer complaints drop, while all have seen improved sales, according to a survey.

Business consultants Capgemini surveyed 400 executives from retailers across the UK, US, France, Germany, China, India, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The study found that across all the territories, 98% said using AI in customer facing functions had led to a reduction in complaints of up to 15%.

Ninety-nine per cent said sales had risen by up to 15%.

The UK was ahead in implementing AI, with 39% of retailers already using it, compared with 25% in the US and 29% in Germany. More UK retailers also expected significant benefits from AI than those in other countries, with 11.4% predicting enhanced customer satisfaction compared with 9.4% globally.

UK retailers already using AI include Morrisons, which analyses data on weather patterns and public holidays to predict demand at individual store level. Shelf gap reduced by 30% during trails, according to the report.

Across all retailers, ‘standout examples’ of AI that gave good cost returns included video analytics for detecting in-store theft.

Online-only retailers were the most likely be using AI, with 68% doing so compared with 10% of bricks-and-mortar retailers and 30% of omnichannel.

Deployment of the technology had seen a seven-fold increase in two years, with 28% of retailers using it now compared with 4% in 2016. Last year the figure was 17%.

Seventy-one per cent of retailers said AI was creating jobs, most of which were at ‘fairly senior level’. Three quarters said AI had not replaced jobs.

The proportion of companies claiming they had the skills to implement AI had dropped from 78% in 2017 to 53% as the ‘realities of AI have revealed themselves’ the report added.

“For global retailers, it appears reality has kicked in regarding AI, both in terms of what the technology can achieve and what they need to do to get there,” said Kees Jacobs, Capgemini’s vice president, global consumer products and retail sector.