The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Retail 2030

Artificial intelligence is one of the most important future trends, also in retail. Although the widespread use of AI applications in German retail is not yet apparent, the use of the new technology is increasing. But what will the development and spread of AI look like in the future? This is the question addressed by the current scenario study of the EHI Retail Institute.

In an interdisciplinary team of experts from retail companies and technology service providers, a total of eight scenarios were developed in face-to-face and online workshops, which outline various forms of AI in retail. Today, there are already companies such as Amazon that are working intensively with AI and are having great success with it. However, many companies are currently still overwhelmed by dealing with AI or do not recognize the benefits. Scenario #2 describes this state of polarization, while Scenario #5 contrasts it with a possible development in which brick-and-mortar retailers also embrace the new development and AI supports the creativity of retailers in the long term.


It is also conceivable that concerns about AI - key words are economic efficiency or data protection - are too great, so that AI can only develop at a slower pace and "in secret." Retailers therefore leave technological development to other players, e.g., platform operators such as Ebay, and concentrate in scenarios #3 and #6 on optimizing background processes that are invisible to customers.

As part of a survey among the experts involved, it became clear that a disruption in retail triggered by AI is expected in the long term - driven by powerful autonomous and self-optimizing systems. This development can be actively shaped by retailers. Scenario #7, for example, paints a picture of the future in which online-driven retail assumes a strong position in the AI competition on the basis of broad data utilization. Finally, scenario #8 goes even further, in which customers control their purchases via their own AI systems, while retailers have to virtually reinvent themselves with new business models. Overall, sums up Marco Atzberger, EHI Managing Director, it will be "crucial for retail companies to actively engage with technology in order not to be left behind by other industries in the development process."

The complete results of the scenario study "The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Retail 2030" are available as a free download at EHI-Shop (only german).

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