Study Affirms the Need to Balance Tech, Human Engagement

Intellias survey reveals potential friction points of GenAI
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
A new survey shows that consumers' bad experiences with chatbots can be detrimental for retailers.

Consumers appreciate convenience and personalization when buying groceries, but also value human interaction. That’s a key takeaway from a new consumer survey on various uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in this industry. 

According to the study from software engineering and digital consulting company Intellias, two-thirds of consumers (66%) don’t mind that retailers use AI to automate repetitive tasks, but don’t want the technology to replace human interaction. An even higher number – 71% – say that the combined experiences of AI and human engagement will “always” be needed in the shopping process.

[RELATED: AI Isn’t Always the Answer]

The survey uncovered potential friction points among customers who are already encountering AI in interactions with retailers. For example, 19% said that chatbots were the most disruptive application of AI when shopping and 20% said poor interactions with AI-powered chatbots would cause them to abandon a purchase. 

Those sentiments underscore the need for a strategic approach to using generative AI (GenAI) technologies like chatbots. “There’s little doubt that AI – and in particular GenAI – have had its watershed moment, as the intersection between rapid consumer and business adoption really came to the fore last year. While there’s no denying the hype curve, AI mustn’t become a go-to catchall for plugging gaps in shopping experiences,” said Alexander Goncharuk, VP of global retail at the Chicago-based Intellias. 

He continued, “Each application of the technology needs to be considered in the context of the entire value chain and only deployed where it can deliver value in a friction-free manner.”

Other recent studies have also found that consumers aren’t necessarily all in on chatbots. According to a recent report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, while more than half of consumers are eager for AI enhancements like virtual assistance, only a third of those who have already used virtual assistants are satisfied with that experience. Akin to the Intellias survey, nearly 20% said they wouldn’t use virtual assistants like chatbots again. 

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