Building the Retail Superstar

How unleashing AI across functions offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity

Report reveals AI’s 340 billion-dollar-saving potential for retail operations

AI is impacting every sector, and retail is no exception. Analysts have estimated that global annual spending on AI by retailers is estimated to reach 7.3 billion by 2022, all because AI offers new ways to improve the customer experience and to optimize operational efficiency and productivity. But are retail organizations getting the most out of this epoch-making technology?

The new report by the Capgemini Research Institute Building the Retail Superstar: How unleashing AI across functions offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity surveyed 400 retailers implementing AI use cases at different stages of maturity (a group that represents 23% of the global retail market by revenue). It answers the following questions:

  • How can retailers drive value from their investments in AI?
  • What are the use cases that offer the most value?
  • What are the key areas of focus for retailers?
  • Which use cases warrant significant investment?
  • How to embark on a successful AI journey?

The report shows that around three-quarters of use cases in retail are consumer-facing and that retailers, in focusing on AI in sales and marketing, are losing sight of other areas, such as supply chain, procurement, and logistics, to which AI can also be applied for easy-win opportunities. Many retailers are going after complex use cases and overlooking a $340 billion prize offered by use cases in operations.

AI is an opportunity every retailer will soon be taking advantage of, but it will be the organizations with a dual customer and operations approach to AI implementation that will be the ones staying ahead of the game.

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Sound Bites

Paul Clarke, CTO, UK at Ocado

AI is completely in a disruptive league of its own – it’s the one to rule them all, in the tolkienian sense. It lets you accomplish really exciting things with other technologies.

Clodagh Moriarty, Director of Online at Sainsbury

We use AI all the time for our algorithms, we are constantly learning what customers put in their baskets to understand what products are popular.

Olaf Koch, CEO at Metro A

In a digitized world, e-commerce players get detailed insights into their customers’ wishes and behavior and are often ahead of the game. However, brick-and-mortar retailers were mostly not able to gain comparable information until now – although this is highly relevant to better understand their customers and improve the shopping experience in their stores.

Key Insights


Expected growth for AI robot markets between 2017 and 2023


of leaders invest 5–10% of their IT budgets in AI


of the top 250 global retailers are integrating AI into their organizations


Kees Jacobs

Expert in Consumer Products and Retail

Ron Tolido

Executive Vice President, Global CTO – Insights & Data. Certified Master Architect. Member of the Group Technology & Innovation Council. Lead author of TechnoVision. Executive lecturer at TIAS Business School.

Achim Himmelreich

Expert in Consumer Product and Retail