NEW YORK—Following Samantha Jordan’s talk, Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight Research, took the Summit stage. Weinswig’s Coresight Research, is one of the world’s leading retail observers and analysts, and she spent her time with the Summit audience sharing her views on how AI is changing the retail space, including how retailers can effectively and creatively apply AI technology in their storefronts and online.

Coresight Research’s Deborah Weinswig cited a number of retailers who are using AI technology to get closer to the customer and craft a better, more convenient experience for them.

When it comes to using AI, Weinswig underscored the importance of business leaders trying it out for themselves before rushing to utilize it in the workplace. Once AI technology is in use in the workplace, it’s vital to ensure that it’s being used responsibly, that the proper guardrails are in place, and to ensure that there is a workplace AI policy ready to go.

This, she said, is easier for smaller companies than large ones: “In the beginning, the benefits [of using AI] will accrue to the small [companies], because from a compliance perspective, you have a lot less to ring-fence than your very large retailer.”

One important use of generative AI, Weinswig said, is “the compute power,” when it comes to gathering data form various sources. She said, “What we hear from many retailers is that there’s data… Maybe you have a chat bot… or customer service. There’s data there. You have returns: there’s data there. You have a loyalty program: there’s data there.” By using AI and machine learning, that data can be turned into what Weinswig called “rapid fire foresight” that will aid businesses in handling their future.

Internally, there are advantages to utilizing AI as well. Weinswig discussed her team in Lagos, Nigeria, who uses AI in human resources. She said, “[AI is] doing a lot in HR; I’ve actually learned a lot on human resources from our team there… they can predict: what is the employee who is, say, at risk of leaving? Who needs training? Who needs a mentor? This is just based on some of the data of the interactions with different HR systems. But we are able to really think differently about our organization.”

In retail, the potential of AI use is almost infinite. Weinswig cited a number of retailers who are using AI technology to get closer to the customer and craft a better, more convenient experience for them. One of these is Walmart, Weinswig said, which uses AI in its Walmart Pay self-checkout system to make the process of checking out quicker and easier—and, in turn, allows the customer to spend more time shopping. She also cited a similar experience at a local Circle K, with its Smart Checkout system.

Weinswig explained that many clothing stores also utilize AI and virtual try-on to personalize the customers’ shopping experience, from AI-powered models on Stitch Fix that show users how clothes will fit to dressing rooms with screens and avatars that help customers choose sizing and styles to try on. Weinswig also discussed AI use in the supermarket industry, where organizations utilize it to eliminate food waste, reduce shrinkage and improve overall outcomes. She summarized, “If we can truly start to improve outcomes [using AI,] we can truly start to make this all about personalized experiences.”

After discussing the many uses of AI within retail, Weinswig left the Summit audience with the challenge of experimenting with AI for themselves and remembering that this technology can be just as fun as it is useful. She said, “The challenge I want to leave with all of you is this: experiment. Do it in a place that’s safe… it can be fun.” Finally, Weinswig said, “There’s a huge opportunity, but, once again, there is huge responsibility.”