Only one-third (37%) of Australian shoppers believe that AI is having a positive impact on their retail experiences. Despite this, almost three quarters (73%) prefer brands that offer personalised recommendations – a common use case for AI in retail, according to a new study by SAP Emarsys.

The research suggests a clear conflict between consumer concerns about AI and their desire to reap the real-world benefits of its use – highlighting an opportunity for retailers to educate and convert loyal customers. 

According to the research, almost one-third of consumers (31%) are worried that AI will negatively impact their shopping experiences, while 91% say they’d rather interact with humans than AI. However, over a third (35%) can tell the difference between a human and an AI chatbot online. 

According to Emarsys’ analysis, this negativity is often because consumers don’t see that AI is behind their best experiences. While shoppers value personalised content, custom recommendations, and speedy checkouts, few realise that AI is behind these advancements. 

The research also highlights that many consumers are concerned about the use of data collection for AI, with 59% wanting retailers to strike a better balance between collecting their data and improving their shopping experiences. 

 SAP Emarsys senior vice president of revenue and general manager for APJ & GC, Daniel Hagos said, “The benefits of AI in retail can’t be overstated: not just for brands but, for customers as well. It’s clear that, at present, shoppers aren’t entirely convinced on AI’s value – but when used responsibly, AI can truly enhance user experience in everything from receiving the right recommendations to easy purchasing processes. 

“The personalised experiences that drive business growth and establish long-term customer loyalty aren’t realistic without data, so it’s essential that retailers educate shoppers and strike a mutually beneficial balance for data sharing. Transparency is critical; brands need to explain how data is being used, and the direct value it offers to consumers in terms of driving the personalisation that they so desire at every touchpoint. 

“This education will be essential for the widespread adoption of AI and the consumer benefits it brings, with leading retailers able to meet – and even anticipate – their customer’s expectations through the relevant, reliable, responsible use of embedded AI. That’s the real benefit of AI, making better, smarter decisions, faster.”