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Conquering Industries: How Generative AI Makes a Whale of Difference in Retail and Financial Services

Written by: Martin Dale Bolima, Tech Journalist, AOPG


The rage that is generative AI shows no signs of slowing down.

According to the Google Cloud Gen AI Benchmarking Study last July, 82% of organisations considering or currently using generative AI think it can transform their industry. Amy Eschliman, Managing Director, Retail Solutions Strategy, at Google Cloud, meanwhile, thinks generative AI’s “potential impact on individual and business productivity is extraordinary.”

She isn’t wrong.

No wonder organisations far and wide—and from different verticals—are finding more and more ways to leverage this game-changing innovation.

The retail and financial services sectors come to mind immediately.

Revolutionising Retail

The value of generative AI in retail is starting to be very evident, with retailers figuring out a wide variety of use cases where this innovation can reshape the experiences not only of customers but also of employees as well.

Just to be clear, though, not even the best technologies can replace the value proposition and core values of a retail company. What it can do for certain is to empower an organisation’s employees to do productive, meaningful work—not tedious, repetitive tasks that contribute little to the company. It can also improve core offerings, shorten time-to-market, and solve fundamental problems. In some cases, it can even unlock new paradigms for the business to explore.

To this end, Eschliman identified five specific ways generative AI is revolutionising retail:

Creative Assistance

Most retail customers expect brands to know their preferences, but simply presenting these won’t suffice anymore. This is where generative AI comes in as it can help retailers in delivering hyper-personalised and highly engaging creative content—with less labour and in less time. More and more, retailers are utilising generative AI to prototype and create content quickly and efficiently and at a fraction of the cost of traditional content creation processes.

Conversational Commerce 

Chatbots are largely hit or miss, but generative AI can at least help retailers build digital agents that can effectively address queries, provide personalised recommendations, and interact with customers. This is crucial in solving major retail issues such as search abandonment, which costs retailers over USD $2 trillion each year because they cannot find exactly what they want. Generative AI will keep that from happening over and over. (Watch this demo to see generative AI working its magic.)

Product Catalogue Management

Building and maintaining a product catalogue is hard work. It can be time-consuming, too. Generative AI is changing that by enabling retailers to create studio-grade imagery from simple text prompts, improve summarisation, and make those all-important marketing copies. With generative AI, retailers won’t need to get images from third-party vendors, sort out products, and do the actual writing. This helps ensure a comprehensive, creatively made, and up-to-date product catalogue. (Watch this demo to see how generative AI helps in this aspect of retail.)

New Product Development

Introducing new products can add to a retailer’s brand, but the process can be costly, time-consuming, and labour-intensive. Not with generative AI, though. With its extensive capabilities, this innovation accelerates product research by perusing vast amounts of data to provide critical insights that can be used in developing new products. Then, with generative AI’s generative capabilities, retailers can easily create prototypes and refine them accordingly. (Watch this demo to see generative AI accelerated new product development.)

Customer Service Automation

Great customer service is a pillar of successful retailers. Generative AI can help ensure it as well via smart virtual agents that can take the load off your contact centre. Retailers are also using generative AI to summarise conversations and customer service data to generate new FAQ content and similar guides, further enhancing customer service in the process.

The Revolution Is Real

Leading brands are already in on this generative AI revolution, Global fast-food chain Wendy’s, for instance, is leveraging cutting-edge generative AI to improve customer experience and the takeout process. Beauty leader The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., meanwhile, recently partnered with Google Cloud to deploy best-in-class generative AI to transform its online consumer experience.

Driving Financial Services Forward

Zac Maufe, Managing Director of Regulated Industries, at Google Cloud, and Toby Brown, Managing Director of Global Retail Banking Solutions, also at Google Cloud, identified the three main capabilities that generative AI provides to Financial Services Institutions (FSI):

  1. Turning online interactions conversational.
  2. Making complex data accessible.
  3. Generating content in real-time.

These capabilities are front and centre in these use cases Maufe and Brown identified:

Financial Document Search and Synthesis

Looking for and summarising information seems relatively simple, but not if doing so involves perusing stacks of documents at a time. In this case, the task becomes tedious and time-consuming. Enter generative AI, which can help FSI staff not only find information but also understand and gain insight from it. (Watch this demo to see this use case at work.)

Enhanced Virtual Assistants

As in retail, virtual assistants are increasingly needed in FSI to assist customers in finding answers to specific problems uniquely theirs—something traditional AI chatbots cannot do. But generative AI-powered virtual assistants can do exactly that, enabling them to assist customers in resolving even complex issues, including fraud. (This video shows generative AI speeding up credit card fraud resolution.)

Capital Markets Research

Research is all sorts of difficult, and it often takes time. Generative AI, with its ability to ingest data, pinpoint specific information, and make sense of it all, makes research easier and cuts the time it takes to accomplish it. In other words, generative AI can serve as research assistants that can help peruse millions of event transcripts, company filings, and more and then identify and summarise key details—all in minutes. (This video shows how generative AI extracts and summarises information from vast amounts of sources with a click of a mouse.)

Regulatory Code Change Consultant

Compliance with regulations and rules begins with understanding said rules and regulations. And with these changing frequently, it is crucial to have a nuanced understanding of them on the fly to be able to keep complying. Generative AI, with its capability to gain insights from copious amounts of data, can help give FSI leaders and decision-makers the context they need to understand regulatory changes and new rules, enabling them to come up with the necessary adjustments to ensure compliance.

Personalised Financial Recommendations

This is similar to generative AI-driven virtual agents giving retail customers personalised, need-specific product recommendations—only this time, the recommendations are for financial products and services, not retail ones. In addition, generative AI can help create marketing content or message clients in the apps they prefer to give these personalised, one-to-one recommendations that can, in turn, help improve that all-important customer experience.

Taking That Step Forward With GenAI

Again, as in retail, some of the world’s top financial institutions are already using generative AI in various ways and in varying degrees. Germany’s Deutsche Bank, for instance, is testing Google Cloud’s generative AI and LLMs at scale to assist its financial analysts and drive operational efficiency across the board.

Similarly, MSCI has partnered with Google Cloud to accelerate generative AI-powered solutions for the investment management industry, focusing in particular on the complex world of climate analytics. Dun & Bradstreet also announced its recent collaboration with Google Cloud to use its Vertex AI platform to drive innovation across multiple applications.

Time to Get Started

While work on artificial intelligence is not exactly new, generative AI itself is relatively nascent, entering the mainstream only last year. Yet it is already making waves and revolutionising the world in more ways than one.

And the reality is that this is only the beginning. Generative AI is only going to get better, and it will be even more revolutionary than it already is now. This is why it is time to get started with it—or risk getting left behind.