AI in Retail AI Transformation

Transforming Retail: Insights from Leaders on the Future of AI5 min read

October 25, 2023   |   4 min read

Transforming Retail: Insights from Leaders on the Future of AI5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Takeaways from REBUILD’23 Jamaica

At REBUILD, our flagship AI transformation conference, we brought together an extraordinary collective of retail leaders who ushered in a whole new era of technology and AI into their business ecosystem. 

Whether it was a digital transformation for the entire organization or simply making use of the right tools available to them to create efficiencies across the board, these changemakers have created quite an impact. 

Through the collection of the following anecdotes, let’s see what these leaders are highlighting about the current state and the future of retail and what businesses can do to come out ahead. 

Automation; the AI advantage in scaling

One of the biggest challenges manufacturers face when distributing on a large scale is product attribution. The sheer scale of doing this task makes it incredibly time consuming, slowing down the process. When they are producing nearly 25 million garments a year, machine learning and AI is the ONLY way to go, it’s nearly impossible to do that manually.

 Thriftify has been working with eBay using’s tech to power automation on a large scale in attribution that is tuned to the marketplace’s taxonomy. The vision is to then list them on the relevant channel with the correct attribution – with the correct meta tags, correct title, correct description that matches that specific channel. Automation is the key

Another fantastic example of automation at scale to see results is Buyma. This luxury retailer features images from selliers across the globe,and often would receive product images with various text overlays and to edit or verify them manually would take days. By automating this process of image moderation, they’ve been able to increase their conversion rate and also their add-to-cart rate by 30%. 

Customer Experience in 2023 – two sides of the coin (The Middle East story)

Over the last couple of years, the word omnichannel has been thrown around frivolously but enough to make retailers make it a significant part of their agenda. However, few got the true essence of what it means to provide meaningful omnichannel experiences. 

Our panel with a focus on retail in the Middle East showcased two unique business journeys. Whether it was how a 40+ year legacy company is adapting rapidly and listening to its customers or a tech-first business launching an absolutely unique physical experience, there was so much to take away. 

Case 1: Returning to the roots

“If we want to launch a store going from online to offline in an ecosystem where everything is offline, it has to be different. It has to challenge the norm.”

Ankit Bansal, Head of Digital Marketing

When the company started out as an exclusively eCommerce platform, 6thStreet brought some of the largest brands in the world to the GCC. Now, combining the best features of both the ease and convenience of shopping online with the immersive and instant gratification of shopping in a physical store, 6thStreet has launched its unique ‘phygital’ store. Leveraging the power of the customer and product data, they are creating a unique shopping experience real-time. 

Case 2: Legacy meets tech

“Today, customers are demanding a more holistic, personalized experience. They want brands to work harder and not throw junk at them. When it comes to communication, it is the age of 1:1 marketing.”

This legacy retailer that has 40+ years in the game is listening to their customers and going back to the drawing board. Innovation coupled with adaptability, they are creating ease, comfort, and convenience in their shoppers’ experience via their ever-evolving eCommerce stores. 

Groundhog Day: data edition

This is an issue that continues to plague the retail sphere – retailers have access to abundant data, now what? 

“Data science departments spend probably 3 to 4 months developing their models and then another 3 to 4 months to take them to production. You’re talking about like a year between when the problem statement is identified and when it actually starts generating value. And then, is it even valid anymore? And then 80% of the time goes into – Where do I find the data? How do I clean the data? How do I organize the data? How do I enrich it?”

Julia Kaplan, Industry Expert & Founder of OpenWardrobe

Businesses have data sources spread across different stakeholders solving different problems in silos. No matter what advancements in technology come, having your data organized and unified will always give you an edge over the competition – in adoption and going to market. 

AI: the catalyst for innovation

AI is a tool. It’s very useful. It’s a driver for many things. Which leaves time for us to focus and boosts creativity.

Javier Fernandez Poyo, Ex-Head of Innovation, Desigual 

At its core, AI is simply a tool that is meant to simplify human lives and open up time for more creative pursuits, setting aside the monotony of the day-to-day for the machines to pick up. This allows innovation to thrive in businesses. 

The takeaway

Our retail leaders, pioneers in their own right, showcased remarkable instances of automation at scale, redefining customer experiences in 2023, and harnessing the power of unified data. This conference exemplified the critical role of AI as a catalyst for innovation, scale, growth and success. 

As the retail landscape evolves, embracing AI is not merely a choice but a necessity for those aiming to stay ahead. REBUILD continues to be the forefront of these transformative discussions, offering invaluable insights into the AI-driven future of retail.

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