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UK retailers lag in implementing AI

UK retailers lag in implementing AI

Retailers in the United Kingdom are using artificial intelligence (AI) at a much slower pace than other industries in the country. Over half of UK retailers are still not using machine intelligence, while this share is much lower among financial services companies or manufacturers.

A new research report by Microsoft shows that 56 percent of retail companies in the United Kingdom still not use AI, while for example, 44 percent of financial service providers and 40 percent of manufacturers don’t either. “Clearly, for the sector to thrive in the future, the speed of change must increase”, Microsoft warns.

‘AI will impact all retailers’

But expectations are that the adoption of AI in retail will remain slow, especially in the big box retail sector. And this is because of their challenges to scale their digital offer quickly and cost-effectively enough so they can compete with online retailers. Microsoft says it’s clear that change can’t be ignored: “AI will impact retailers of all shapes and sizes.”

AI may be connected more to online retailers than to the high street, however, it’s the bricks-and-mortar retailers who should embrace AI in their battle to compete with online retailers. “The high street is reinventing itself, adapting to changing consumer behavior and increased competition for leisure time”, Helen Dickinson, CEO of British Retail Consortium, says. “AI is going to be an increasing part of that picture and along with structural changes to the way consumers and retailers interact, will be part of the positive transformation story of the retail industry.”

AI will account for 7.5% of UK retail IT budget

Interestingly, another recent study, by Rackspace, shows a more optimistic image. According to this research, retailers in the United Kingdom clearly recognize the significant opportunity that AI presents: one in four IT decision makers in this industry are planning to use this technology in-store over the next twelve months. This study claims that across both in-store and ecommerce deployments, AI will account for 7.5 percent of total UK retail sector IT budget over the next year.