Epicor Study Reveals 70 Percent of Retailers View AI-Powered Retail Management as Critical — But They Are Struggling to Keep Up

Austin, TX January 15, 2024

Survey of North America retail business and IT leaders illuminates the gap between retailers’ enthusiasm for AI and their readiness to deploy

Nearly seven out of ten business and IT leaders at major retailers across North America see AI as critical to their organization’s ability to improve the customer experience, grow revenue, boost productivity and drive a host of operational efficiencies — but everything from data collection and integrity, to the rapid pace of AI innovation, to organizational resistance is holding them back.

That’s according to the findings of a recent study, “AI Will Transform Retail — But Success Hinges On Tech, Data, And Process,” a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Epicor, a global industry-specific enterprise software leader.

The study’s key findings, based on a survey of 205 North American retail business and IT decision-makers with responsibility for technology decisions at their company, include:

  • Adoption of AI is early. Despite most retailers understanding that AI can help them achieve their goals, many are still at the beginning of their AI implementation journeys. For example, spend management is the process with the highest levels of advanced AI usage — but only 34 percent of respondents are doing so. Processes such as receiving and sales, and operation planning, see the lowest usage with less than 20 percent of respondents leveraging advanced AI.
  • Data is the first and hardest step of AI implementation. The biggest hurdles stopping retailers from implementing AI are data collection and data quality issues. Specifically, 77 percent of respondents noted that their organization struggles to gain actionable insights from the data it collects, and 67 percent report they’re unable to collect any usable data to help gain better business insights. Furthermore, respondents said data quality issues and overcoming data silos were the top challenges for AI implementation.
  • Retailers want a retail management system that leverages AI. Nearly 70 percent of retailers see an AI-powered retail management system as crucial — if their organization also could use that system to forecast demand and to manage accounting and inventory.

“Our survey of retail leaders makes it crystal clear that they urgently want to harness AI for their businesses. It’s equally evident that they are struggling to overcome a host of obstacles,” said Marco de Vries, Vice President of Product Marketing at Epicor. “Whether it’s to automate and improve operations or to gather actionable insights for demand forecasting, reordering, and inventory, the first step for retailers in realizing the value of AI is gaining a better understanding of the available landscape and beginning to tackle any underlying data quality and collection issues.”

When retail leaders were asked how much of an impact an AI-powered management system might have on key business processes, 76 percent anticipate a positive impact on customer processes and supply chain management, 69 percent foresee positive impacts to demand forecasting, and 67 percent said the same for inventory management.

While the biggest technical challenge of AI implementation is data quality, 70 percent said their organization needs more education around AI retail solutions; and 65 percent stated they struggle to keep up with new AI technologies. Nearly 60 percent of respondents noted that investing in these new technologies is too complicated due to issues such as training for new AI technology offerings, managing opposition from the workforce, and overcoming organizational resistance to change.

Epicor retail industry experts will review the findings of the survey and explore best practices for keeping up with new and evolving AI technologies in a live webinar on January 17, 2024 from 12:00 to 12:45 EST. To attend, register here. To download a complimentary copy of the study, visit Epicor’s website here.

Survey Methodology

In October 2023, Epicor commissioned Forrester Consulting to explore the current state of AI for retail businesses. To do so, Forrester surveyed 205 North American retail business and IT decision-makers with responsibility for technology decisions at their company.


Aaron Masterson

Global Head of Corporate Communications