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AI Gets Real for Many Businesses

New insights affirm that ChatGPT and other AI-powered tech are on grocers’ minds, as more companies invest in capability
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
According to insights from Incisiv and Wynshop, the percentage of grocers who discussed ChatGPT at senior-level meetings rose from 67% to 83% from February to May.

Artificial intelligence, while controversial in the court of public opinion, is moving ahead in many areas of business, including food retailing. New findings from insights firm Incisiv and digital commerce and fulfillment provider Wynshop show that grocers recognize that AI is coming but are scaling at different levels to deploy it in their operations.

According to Incisiv’s and Wynshop’s State of Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard for May 2023 shared by Grocery Doppio, 83% of grocers discussed the specific AI tool of ChatGPT at senior level meetings in May, compared to 67% of them who talked about it in February. A similar 82% said that AI is necessary to remain competitive for the future.

[Read more: “How Instacart Is Using ChatGPT to Enhance the Search Experience”]

Still, execution is rolling out at a slower pace than discussions. Even as 8 out of 10 grocers agreed that AI is needed to keep up, a lower share of 74% of them reported that they are actively looking for new AI capabilities in their software RFPs. The research shows that challenges to AI adoption include budgets (as reported by 71% of grocery executives), proof of performance (69%) and infrastructure limits (63%).

"AI is clearly of interest to grocery executives, but they are cautious about its adoption," remarked Charlie Kaplan, Wynshop's chief revenue officer. "Grocers need to have reliable infrastructure and proof of performance before they will commit limited budgets to new technologies."

While grocers keep AI top of mind, if not quite top of budget just yet, other firms that serve the industry are making investments in the technology. Consulting firm Accenture – which provides insights and solutions for grocers, CPGs and others in the food retailing chain – announced this week that it is investing $3 billion in AI and expanding its data and AI practice to help clients advance their use of the technology.  

“There is unprecedented interest in all areas of AI, and the substantial investment we are making in our Data & AI practice will help our clients move from interest to action to value, and in a responsible way with clear business cases,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture's chair and CEO. “Companies that build a strong foundation of AI by adopting and scaling it now, where the technology is mature and delivers clear value, will be better positioned to reinvent, compete and achieve new levels of performance. Our clients have complex environments, and at a time when the technology is changing rapidly, our deep understanding of ecosystem solutions allows us to help them navigate quickly and cost effectively to make smart decisions.”

[Read more: "Tales From the AI/ML Grocery Front Coming to GroceryTech Event"]

As part of the multibillion-dollar investment, Accenture will upgrade assets, solutions, acquisitions and partnerships to develop new capabilities across diagnostic, predicative and generative AI. The company is also creating accelerators for data and AI readiness across 19 industries.

For their part, solution providers continue to roll out new AI-powered tools. Earlier this month, tech company SimplyCodes launched a ChatGPT plugin that delivers a coupon database with millions of verified discount codes powered by the ChatGPT language model. The plugin is now available in OpenAI’s plugin store for ChatGPT.

With this tool, shoppers can ask ChatGPT to find the best coupons and deals at more than 300,000 retailers in the U.S., according to SimplyCodes. “Shopping hasn't been a core use case for ChatGPT to date," explained Michael Quoc, founder of tech accelerator, creator of SimplyCodes. "Our goal with the SimplyCodes ChatGPT plugin is to bring our industry-leading coupons and deals service directly to the hands of anyone using ChatGPT for shopping, price comparison, or product research."

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