According to a report from who interviewed 200 senior executives at major UK and French retailers, brands are embracing AI to simplify and improve the customer shopping experience. 
According to the report, 77% of retailers revealed that simplifying the customer experience is a core ambition and actively designing their e-commerce presence primarily based on simplicity and convenience is essential.
The report also found that retailers prioritised tech investment, highlighting potential areas for growth over the next five years. Unsurprisingly, AI technology looks set for continued growth as it was deemed the second most important area for tech investment, followed by traditional mobile applications. Meanwhile, 27% of retailers confirmed that they had invested in augmented reality (AR) technology over the last 12 months as they rush to engage consumers both in-store and via mobile.
Furthermore, 37% confirmed they invested in virtual reality technology over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, 53% are planning on introducing virtual assistants with 38% already rolling out the process.
Out of those surveyed, 44% of retailers offer AI-powered chatbots to help shoppers while 54% are planning to in the next five years
“To remain competitive and respond to customer demands, it is more vital than ever for retailers to evolve their in-store and online offering and create a sense of occasion and experience,” said Jimmy New, director of marketing at; “Fortunately, thanks to the rapid developments in both AI and AR technology, retailers can create an even more immersive experience for customers – helping them to build stronger connections and encourage loyalty.”

However, as retailers continue to embrace technology and data to transform both the in-store and online shopping experience for consumers, several challenges arise. Firstly, is the challenge of multi-platform delivery and making sure that the customer has a consistent brand experience regardless of channel or platform. Secondly, retailers are often struggling to make sure that they have the requisite talent within the business to best maximise digital investment. 

Competition for the best people in the industry is fierce and recruitment of digital and technology experts can be a long and difficult process.

“Whilst the future of the high street remains unpredictable, over the next 12 months we expect to see retailers continue to invest in tech and mine for more intelligent data to create a more personalised approach. AI, AR and many other exciting developments will no doubt be at the forefront of upcoming changes; however, meeting customer needs and expectations will be what drives activity and investment moving forward,” concluded New.