A retail store scene with a mannequin displaying clothing and a table showcasing various digital icons representing sales data, payment methods, shipping, and AI-powered retail analytics tools. The image highlights the integration of generative AI in enhancing the retail experience.

Just last week, we released our 2024 Generative AI Global Benchmark Study, revealing a surprising slowdown in AI adoption across industries. But what’s the story on generative AI in retail? Well, it’s a bit of a paradox.


AI-Pioneering Retailers Are Feeling the Heat

Our 2024 study shows that retailers are leading the charge in generative AI adoption. They’re deploying AI solutions at a faster pace than most other industries, particularly when it comes to revenue-generating and growth-focused initiatives. And it’s paying off — nearly half of them are already seeing financial benefits.

Despite these successes, 34% of retailers feel they’re falling behind their competitors. This sense of urgency, coupled with rising implementation costs (a top concern for 64% of retailers), creates a challenging landscape.

A chart showing Spending Plans Vary By Industry in the Generative AI Retail study by Lucidworks

The Cost Conundrum

Why the cost concerns? Retailers often need highly responsive and scalable AI solutions to handle the sheer volume of customer queries. This can quickly drive up expenses, especially when using commercial large language models (LLMs).

But there’s more to the story. Retailers are also innovators. Many of them are early adopters of cutting-edge technologies, which can lead to higher upfront costs and a steeper learning curve.

So, how can retailers strike the right balance? The key lies in taking a strategic, phased approach to generative AI in retail.

Steps to Balance Innovation with Practicality

  1. Start Small, Think Big

Begin with smaller, achievable projects that demonstrate tangible value. For example, use generative AI to enhance product descriptions, generate personalized recommendations, or automate customer service interactions. These quick wins can build momentum and justify further investment.

  1. Prioritize Governance

Establish clear guidelines for AI use to mitigate risks and ensure ethical and responsible implementation.

  1. Embrace Open Source

As open-source LLMs mature, they can offer a cost-effective alternative to commercial models.

  1. Partner with Experts

Working with a trusted AI partner like Lucidworks can help you navigate the complexities of AI adoption and maximize your ROI.

The Future of AI in Retail

The future of retail is undoubtedly intertwined with AI. While the current landscape presents challenges, it also offers immense opportunities for those willing to embrace this technology strategically.

Here’s your strategy: Prioritize practical applications, manage costs effectively, and focus on long-term value. If you get these right, generative AI in retail can enhance the customer experience, streamline operations, and ultimately drive growth.

Are you ready to unlock the full potential of generative AI in retail?

  • Download our full 2024 Generative AI Benchmark Study: Get comprehensive insights into AI adoption trends across industries. Get the full report.
  • Explore Retail-Focused AI Insights: Discover how retailers are uniquely leveraging and struggling with AI, along with actionable recommendations. Download the retail-focused report.

About Lila Schoenfield

Read more from this author

Best of the Month. Straight to Your Inbox!
Dive into the best content with our monthly Roundup Newsletter! Each month, we handpick the top stories, insights, and updates to keep you in the know.