Retail’s AI revolution: How generative AI is transforming shopping

Produced by


Ekta Chopra

Chief Digital Officer
e.l.f. Beauty

Rob Garf

VP and GM, Retail

Rochelle Ezekiel

Senior Vice President, Digital Commerce, Canada Goose

Matt Marcotte

SVP, Industry Advisors for Retail, Consumer Goods, and Manufacturing, Salesforce

Julia Napolitano

Vice President, Solution Engineering, Salesforce

In this session, senior executives from Salesforce took the stage to delve into the transformative power of generative AI in the retail landscape. With insightful commentary and real-world examples, they explored the latest trends from the 2023 holiday season and presented The AI Playbook—a comprehensive guide to leveraging data, AI, CRM, and trust to drive innovation and enhance customer experiences.

Matt Marcotte, Senior Vice President of retail consumer goods and manufacturing industry advisors at Salesforce, kicked off the discussion by highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing the retail industry in today's rapidly evolving landscape. Amidst inflation, supply chain disruptions, and data proliferation, retailers are grappling with the complexity of managing diverse systems and disconnected touchpoints.

Matt emphasized the importance of embracing the AI revolution, stating, “We're in a new world, and it's essential to adapt to stay competitive.” He outlined the agenda for the session, promising insights into the impact of AI on retail, practical steps outlined in The AI Playbook, and firsthand accounts from retail trailblazers.

Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail at Salesforce, shared his enthusiasm for the AI revolution, drawing parallels between AI advancements and the transformational journey of iconic figures like Darrell McDaniel from Run DMC. Rob emphasized the significance of generative AI in enhancing customer experiences, citing statistics from Salesforce's Shopping Index to underscore its impact on sales and service.

Reflecting on the evolving retail landscape, Rob highlighted the emergence of an AI trust gap among consumers—a challenge that retailers must address to foster confidence in AI-driven solutions. He stressed the need for retailers to develop a comprehensive AI strategy focused on customer experience, data management, embedding AI in workflows, and prioritizing practical use cases.

Rob's engaging narrative was punctuated with anecdotes from retailers like Ralph Lauren and Boot Barn, showcasing how AI initiatives drive tangible results and streamline operations in diverse retail environments.

Julia Napolitano, Vice President of Solution Engineering at Salesforce, took the stage to elucidate The AI Playbook—a roadmap for retailers to harness the power of data, AI, and CRM effectively. She emphasized the foundational role of data in enabling frictionless commerce and personalized experiences, underscoring Salesforce's commitment to trust and security.

Julia guided the audience through the playbook's key pillars: building a source of truth with unified data, training AI systems, and activating insights across channels. Drawing inspiration from trailblazing brands like Rossignol, she demonstrated how AI-driven solutions streamline product launches, enhance marketing campaigns, and elevate customer service interactions.

With a blend of technical expertise and practical insights, Julia showcased the seamless integration of AI across the customer journey, from commerce to service. Her demonstration illustrated how AI empowers retailers to deliver tailored experiences, drive sales, and foster long-term loyalty.

The session concluded with a call to action for retailers to embrace the AI revolution and leverage Salesforce's comprehensive suite of AI-powered solutions. As the retail industry continues to evolve, the transformative potential of generative AI promises to redefine the shopping experience and drive sustained growth in the digital era.

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Embracing AI: A Journey of Education and Innovation: Ekta Chopra, Chief Digital Officer at e.l.f. Beauty, emphasized the importance of education in navigating the AI landscape, highlighting the significance of upskilling employees and fostering a culture of curiosity. She remarked, "It starts with education... It's about making everyone in my company a prompt engineer." Ekta detailed initiatives such as internal training sessions and engaging external experts to enlighten their executive team on the potential of AI.

Rochelle Ezekiel, SVP of Digital Commerce at Canada Goose, echoed Ekta's sentiments, emphasizing a "test and learn" approach ingrained in their organizational culture. She emphasized the value of leveraging consumer insights to drive AI initiatives, ensuring alignment with real consumer demands.

Navigating Obstacles and Mitigating Risks: Matt prompted discussions on obstacles and risk mitigation strategies, to which Rochelle expressed confidence in AI adoption, viewing challenges as opportunities for growth. Ekta emphasized the importance of establishing policies and governance frameworks to address inherent risks, stressing the need for transparency and accountability in AI utilization.

Balancing Innovation with Operational Efficiency: The conversation pivoted towards balancing innovation with operational efficiency, with Ekta highlighting the dual nature of resource allocation in maintaining business operations while fostering innovation. Rochelle emphasized the interconnectedness of innovation and operational sustainability, envisioning a seamless integration of AI into everyday processes.

The Human Touch in AI Implementation: Addressing concerns about AI replacing human roles, Rochelle emphasized the complementary relationship between AI and human expertise, particularly in luxury retail where brand identity and personalized experiences are paramount. Ekta concurred, emphasizing the role of humans in guiding AI to authentically represent brand values and enhance customer interactions.

Unlocking Loyalty through AI: Discussing the role of AI in fostering customer loyalty, Ekta emphasized the centrality of data in personalizing customer experiences and building emotional connections with consumers. Rochelle underscored the importance of data-driven insights in aligning customer engagement with brand values, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience.

Advice for AI Novices: In offering advice to those embarking on their AI journey, Ekta advocated for a hands-on approach, emphasizing the importance of experimentation and continuous learning. Rochelle stressed the significance of authenticity in innovation, urging businesses to stay true to their brand values while leveraging AI capabilities effectively.

Closing Thoughts and Future Outlook: As the session drew to a close, Matt underscored the transformative potential of AI in retail, emphasizing Salesforce's commitment to empowering businesses of all sizes with cutting-edge AI solutions. With an eye toward the future, the speakers encouraged attendees to embrace AI-driven innovation, setting the stage for a new era of retail excellence.

In conclusion, the discussion provided invaluable insights into the evolving role of AI in reshaping the retail landscape, offering a roadmap for businesses to harness the power of generative AI and drive sustainable growth in the digital age.

MAR 2024