Australia’s retail sector could unlock billions of dollars in value by 2030 if it accelerates the responsible adoption of generative artificial intelligence (GAI), according to a new report in collaboration between Microsoft and the Tech Council of Australia.

The report, Australia’s Generative AI Opportunity, shows that GAI could contribute between $45 billion and $115 billion a year to Australia’s economy by 2030 through two major channels – improving existing industries and enabling the creation of new products and services. 

Retail has been identified as one of the four key sectors of the Australian economy poised to benefit from GAI, demonstrating that the technology could contribute between $3 billion and $9 billion annually to the sector in Australia by 2030. 

The key drivers of value for GAI in the retail sector are better customer support and personalised experiences, as well as streamlined backend operations. According to the report, GAI can automate 30% and augment 32% of the tasks performed by a shop sales assistant, for example. In addition, GAI can improve the productivity of customer support workers by 14%, as well as drive greater customer engagement and personalisation of products. 

Tech Council CEO, Kate Pounder said, “Having invested heavily in omnichannel capabilities during the COVID pandemic, Australia’s retail industry is now primed to integrate generative AI into existing digital platforms. This stands to benefit companies striving to innovate and stand out, and customers wanting better service and prices.” 

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is one Australian company that is exploring GAI, with chief financial officer, Adam Campbell, recognising its potential to significantly increase profitability while delivering a better customer experience. 

“We’ve recently been exploring several use cases for generative AI with some of our key partners in this space to help us optimise processes, increase our efficiency and generate more valuable insights. This could not only lead to significant revenue and productivity gains for FCTG, but also a better service offering for customers across our multiple brands. We’re excited to keep exploring how generative AI makes a mark on our business and the travel industry as a whole,” he said.

Microsoft Australia and New Zealand chief technology officer, Lee Hickin said, “We’re proud to partner with the Tech Council on this timely report. Generative AI has emerged as a transformative technology in 2023, with its adoption growing rapidly across various sectors in Australia. These include several pilot programs being explored by our retail customers, as they look to automate processes, create personalised offerings and streamline operations.”