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Retailers Slow to Embrace AI to Improve Supply-Chain Performance: Survey

Only 13% of retail executives think their company's supply-chain performance outranks the competition's
supply chain management
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While a majority of retail executives say their company’s supply-chain performance either lags the competition (22%) or is only on par with it (65%)—and only 13% think they outperform their peers—many have not embraced AI and machine-learning (ML) technologies, which Troy Prothero of Symphony RetailAI said could help “future-proof grocery supply chains to handle unexpected disruptions.”

For its Role of AI/ML in Supply Chain and Demand Forecasting survey, Symphony RetailAI, a provider of AI-powered marketing, merchandising and supply-chain tools for consumer goods retailers and manufacturers, commissioned Incisiv to ask retail executives to evaluate their supply chain performance over the past two years and indicate areas of the supply chain where they intend to focus their improvement efforts.

Symphony RetailAI reported that 87% of retail executives indicated they have not yet taken meaningful steps to embrace AI; only 6% of respondents were self-described adopters of AI; and 8% have dabbled with or seen early success from piloted technology.

Moreover, 39% of retail executives indicated they are unsure how to apply AI to real-world scenarios, and 92% feel their inability to integrate data from multiple sources prevents them from successfully pursuing AI solutions. Other roadblocks retail executives mentioned include poor data quality (79%) and a lack of confidence in AI to make good recommendations (31%).

“As new threats loom and other economic factors create supply chain unpredictability, these results highlight the need to future-proof grocery supply chains,” said Prothero, SVP of product management and supply chain solutions for Symphony RetailAI. “The importance of using data, including AI-driven demand forecasting, to gain a competitive supply chain advantage isn’t going away, so organizations that prioritize new ways of using data for decision-making will be better positioned to succeed.”

Survey respondents indicated a prioritization of data-related initiatives, with 82% focusing on data-driven demand forecasting and 61% citing improved master data management as a top supply chain priority.

Symphony RetailAI and Incisiv surveyed retailers across consumer goods retail segments including grocery, general merchandise, home improvement, drug, dollar/discount and convenience. Thirty-seven percent of respondents were VP level or above. Executives from large retailers (annual revenue >$1 billion) made up 24% of those interviewed, with respondents from retailers of revenue ranging from $100 million to $1 billion rounding out the remaining 76%.




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