As consumer appetite for technology-driven experiences grows, Australian retailers are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to attract and retain customers, drive operational efficiencies and support smart decision-making.

Over half of Australian retailers believe AI is a top priority for their business in the next 12 months, with more than two-thirds (68%) already experimenting with AI in some capacity, new research from Shopify has revealed.

The study, conducted by Sapio Research found that close to three-quarters (74%) of Australian retailers are planning a big BFCM in 2023, anticipating a rise in consumer spending as shoppers seek to take advantage of deals and discounts for their holiday shopping.

With businesses earning 25% of their annual sales, on average, during the holiday season, retailers are turning to technology to help them optimise business performance during this period, with 72% of retailers investing in some form of technology to drive sales.

Attracting new customers and retaining customers ranked equal first (39%) among Australian retailers as the top benefit of adopting new technology in their business, followed closely by improving operational efficiencies (37%).

Close to one-third (33%) of businesses think technology will help businesses most with smart decision making, tying with the US as the largest proportion of businesses per country that believe this. When it comes to implementing AI specifically, 42% of Australian retailers said they are using AI to improve customer engagement and build brand loyalty, while 37% cited that AI helps them improve personalised and targeted marketing. 

“Our research found that the consumers that plan to spend the most during this sales period are more likely to regularly make use of technology as part of their shopping journey. With two-thirds of consumers taking advantage of BFCM in 2023, there is a huge opportunity for local retailers to meet consumer demand and capture wallet-share with technology-driven experiences,” Shopify Asia Pacific managing director, Shaun Broughton said.

These insights align with the attitudes of Australian customers, with the study finding close to one in four of consumers are more likely to buy from brands with technology-enabled shopping experiences (24%) and almost a quarter (24%) expect brands to embed technology into the shopping experience. 23% are more likely to spend money with brands that offer tech-enabled shopping experiences.