According to Salesforce’s latest research, at least 180 million people are using AI-powered tools like ChatGPT on a daily basis. For Salesforce alone, this means serving up more than 200 billion AI predictions.

“AI is not a new concept and it’s definitely not a new concept for Salesforce,” said Matt Marcotte, senior vice president, industry advisors RCG & MAE at Salesforce at the WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit. And as the industry enters wave three of the AI, what’s important to remember is that an AI revolution is actually a data revolution, it’s a skills revolution, a huge trust revolution and ultimately it should be a customer experience revolution. Retailers need to keep up.”

With waning consumer loyalty, Marcotte said, Salesforce believes it is imperative for retailers to use AI to create stickiness and increase the share of wallet.

Based on the company’s research, 58 percent of retail marketers are using general AI already to produce creative for ads for emails and social media. With this in mind, the company’s researchers predicted that $194 billion of online holiday sales will be influenced by a combination of predictive and generative AI. Eighty-eight percent of service decision-makers say they are already increasing their use of AI in their business, and retailers have already doubled their ability to use data to deliver and create personalized experiences.

To help brands and retailers better understand how to successfully utilize generative AI, Michelle Grant, director of industry insights at Salesforce, pointed to key findings gleaned from two recent surveys taken by Salesforce. These insights included consumer interest levels in using generative AI for shopping, where 90 percent of respondents reported interest in using it to get gift ideas. Another 16 percent also said they are very interested in using the technology for wardrobe inspiration, and 14 percent said they are very interested in using it to give beauty recommendations.

Looking specifically at how the fashion and beauty retail segments are using generative AI, Grant shared that 63 percent of fashion retailers are already using generative AI to generate product recommendations for store associates, while many others are also using it to provide digital shopping assistance and send personalized responses. These tools do not require human intervention, which importantly frees employees to focus on higher-value tasks.

The way brands and retailers should be thinking about AI, said Marcotte, is with the importance of a connected ecosystem to get a single source of truth around your customer at every single touch point that they have. Notably, a recent research report conducted by Forrester for Salesforce looked at multiple retailers and brands that had invested in the Salesforce for Retail program, finding a 257 percent ROI over a three-year period.

“We have infused predictive AI and generative AI in our entire 360 suites,” Marcotte explained. “Every product you see here has GPT as generative and predictive AI capabilities, this will help you to move faster and drive more and more profitable results. What [Salesforce] is doing is setting these retailers up for success to take advantage of all that AI can give them, like a strong data foundation and the right types of systems in place.”

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