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AI Opportunities for ANZ Retail


Retail store with AI integration

Guest article | Tim Warren

Tim Warren is one of our favourite collaborators and has an extensive career, as an executive across finance and software and has created AI driven customer service systems across the retail landscape. A prominent speaker of AI and the future, he consults to boards and senior executives through the Expert-Fit network.  

 

There’s no doubt in anyone's minds: AI brings huge potential for retail. Promising to revolutionise everything from inventory management to customer experiences, AI adoption is stuttering and some are asking “Why?”. Let’s explore the hurdles and discuss how leading ANZ retailers turn these into opportunities. 


Data availability  

Building a lego set without instructions; that’s what deploying AI with insufficient data is like. High-quality, accessible data is the bedrock of effective AI. Yet, many retailers lack the robust data infrastructure and integration needed to ensure sufficient reliable and usable data. 

 

Take a typical mid-sized retailer grappling with fragmented data sources. Customer information sits in silos—product information here, purchase info there, online behaviour somewhere else. Without integrating these data sources, any data led  initiative is compromised from the outset - especially AI. Retailers must deploy integrated data management systems and think creatively to get the most from them. Doing this will transform scattered data into a solid foundation for AI-driven results. 


Actions Get integrated 


Digital AI Literacy 

The rapid evolution of AI technology feels like entering a Supercar race, and many retail leaders find themselves struggling to catch up. Digital literacy among senior leaders is crucial for effective AI deployment, yet it’s often lacking. Without a solid understanding of AI capability, leaders cannot make informed decisions or drive AI initiatives. Furthering the analogy, this is a racing team, not a single race session. 

 

Consider a retail CEO who grew up in a world of brick-and-mortar stores. Their understanding of AI might be akin to a tourist trying to navigate a foreign city without a map. They look for a guidebook, but it’s all moved online. This knowledge gap hampers the ability to champion AI projects. Initiatives start at the top so retailers must prioritise upskilling leadership teams, promoting AI and digital literacy at all levels, and foster a culture of continuous learning. Hiring AI advisors and engaging in ongoing training programs bridge this gap, ensuring leaders are equipped to steer their organisations to AI success. 

 

Actions Do you know what you don’t know?  

Get advice. 


Resources and Vision  

AI adoption requires commitment, resources and a clear, strategic vision—luxuries many retailers find in short supply. Someone told me it’s like navigating without a compass. Without a visionary approach to AI, retailers risk being tossed around by short-term pressures and missing the long-term benefits. 

 

For instance, a retailer might see AI as a tool for automating customer service, thereby cutting costs. While this is a valid application, it barely scratches the surface of AI’s potential. Visionary leaders look beyond immediate gains and invest in AI applications to drive innovation and create a competitive edge through economic cycles. This means allocating budgets to fund AI initiatives, developing champions, fostering a culture of innovation, and developing long-term investment plans to align with a strategic vision for AI. 


Actions Get a strategic AI plan agreed at Board and Exec level 

Champion led-Implementation from in the organisation 


ANZ Perspective 

Are ANZ retailers merely following global trends, or are they pioneering innovative AI applications? The answer lies somewhere in between. Many ANZ retailers focus on obvious, low-hanging opportunities like chatbots and personalised marketing, there’s immense potential for them to lead the charge in AI adoption up the value curve.  

 

Imagine a clothing store that employs AI-powered smart mirrors in fitting rooms. The mirrors suggest outfits based on the customer’s preferences and previous purchases, provide virtual try-ons, and offer styling tips and recommended accessories. This enhances the instore shopping experience and drives sales and loyalty. Integrating AI into physical stores in such innovative ways, ANZ retailers differentiate themselves from global competitors and set new standards in customer engagement.


Actions What makes you special.....

Be original 


Conclusion 

 Retailers must act now to overcome the challenges of AI adoption. Invest in high-quality data management, prioritise digital literacy for leaders, and develop a clear, strategic vision for AI integration. Embracing innovative applications and committing to long-term investments, transforms AI into a powerful tool for growth and competitiveness for ANZ businesses. 


 




Tim Warren

One of our favourite collaborators and has an extensive career, as an executive across finance and software and has created AI driven customer service systems across the retail landscape.


A prominent speaker of AI and the future, he consults to boards and senior executives through the Expert-Fit network.  

 

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