Spencer Baird

CEO, Inmar Intelligence

The integration of AI throughout the retail experience was a key milestone this past year. Customers benefited enormously from personalized recommendations and tailored communications. Inventory and supply chain optimization driven by predictive modeling ensured product availability while reducing waste. As we look ahead, responsible AI deployment that balances customer experiences, business efficiency, and sustainability will pave the way. 2023 marks a critical juncture - retail embraced innovative technology but prioritized human values equally.

Spencer Baird, CEO, Inmar Intelligence

Christine Roberts

EVP and President, Citizens Pay

In 2023, we saw an increased adoption of next generation POS financing and BNPL solutions. What has historically been a mere afterthought during the checkout process, these solutions have significantly evolved to become highly integrated and personalized to retailers’ needs and customers’ preferences. POS financing can support complex commerce strategies, helping companies foster stronger relationships with consumers and drive long-term growth. We’re seeing that when retailers – across all sectors – take an integrated approach to financing, they not only improve the shopping experience but also foster opportunity to introduce new product categories, ultimately boosting sales and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Christine Roberts, EVP and President, Citizens Pay

Lori Schafer

CEO, Digital Wave Technology

In 2023, retail underwent a tech revolution as Generative AI took center stage. Almost overnight, it became the talk of boardrooms, with most retailers testing its potential and measuring value. Moving into 2024, every CEO must integrate Generative AI into their strategy for continued success.

Retailers quickly saw how GenAI optimizes operational processes to increase team productivity and redirect focus on revenue-centric activities. Two key value drivers emerged: the automation of product content creation with attribute generation and the paradigm shift in AI marketing empowering businesses to craft compelling advertising campaigns at a fraction of the cost. Companies embracing GenAI positioned their brand for unprecedented success.

Lori Schafer, CEO, Digital Wave Technology

Thomas Puorro

Senior Vice President, Engineering, NCR Voyix – Retail

2023 was the year AI really became actionable for more retailers. A recent survey conducted by Salesforce shows 92% of retailers are investing in AI more than ever to improve shopping experiences. Nearly 60% of retailers said they use it to help store associates make product recommendations to shoppers.

This is something we’re seeing firsthand with our customers. Brands around the world are embracing data and AI solutions to gain a holistic view of their customers and better personalize interactions to improve the experience consumers have with their brand.

Thomas Puorro, Senior Vice President, Engineering, NCR Voyix – Retail

Daina Burnes

CEO, Bold Metrics

The retail industry continues to see a major shift toward online shopping, driven by mobile technology and personalization. This trend was accelerated during the pandemic, prompting retailers to further adapt and embrace digital solutions. In 2023, we saw retailers continuing to focus their growth potential within digital channels and even further investigations in how AI can be impactful across operational initiatives. Although the shift toward digital first strategies presents many opportunities, there are unique challenges that require apparel retailers to embrace innovation and technology to ensure a smooth consumer experience. One key challenge of the online channel is high return rates, which some apparel retailers are considering addressing by charging return fees. For apparel retail specifically, where 52% of returns are due to poor fit, charging for returns only adds to customer frustration when an item doesn’t fit. Apparel retailers can leverage AI to empower shoppers with a virtual fitting experience, increasing consumer confidence while reducing the need for returns.

Daina Burnes, CEO, Bold Metrics

The Chinese online retailer Temu has dominated since its US launch in 2022. Now in Q4 2023, Temu has started taking a greater share of the total online market. We have examined Temu’s rapid growth as well as its potential effect on competitors and found that Temu’s share of total online spend has grown rapidly throughout 2023 – reaching a new high of 80bps in mid-November, up from 50bps just a few months ago. Additionally, our CE Insights Center found U.S. consumer spending through TikTok’s Shop continues to increase rapdily since its mid-September launch. TikTok offers another avenue to market and sell products. It also poses a threat to established players as smaller brands and independent sellers can quickly reach a large audience. It will be interesting to watch this space throughout the holiday season and into the new year.

Michael Gunther, Vice President, Head of Insights at Consumer Edge

Reflecting on 2023, the explosive growth of retail media was a significant milestone for the entire industry. It remains one of the industry’s hottest topics, and we’re looking at strong projected growth to continue over the next few years. We also saw many unique partnerships between social, retail and digital giants make its mark on the industry this year.

Mallory Becker, Senior Director, Client Experience, Goodway Group

Brittain Brown

President, Givex

Reflecting on the developments of 2023, a standout milestone for the retail and e-commerce industry is undeniably the evolution of generative AI models. While technically these models, including ChatGPT, were introduced in late 2022, their profound impact has become more apparent throughout 2023. These advancements in AI are not just incremental improvements; they represent a paradigm shift in how businesses interact with customers, manage data and innovate in product and service offerings. The influence of generative AI is still unfolding, and we're only beginning to scratch the surface of its potential applications. Its role in transforming customer experience, personalizing marketing strategies, optimizing supply chains and creating new business models makes it a game changer. This year marks a pivotal point where the possibilities of AI are starting to be realized in practical, impactful ways, setting the stage for a future where AI integration becomes a cornerstone of business strategy and operations in the retail sector.

Brittain Brown, President, Givex

Attila Kecsmar

CEO, Antavo

One significant milestone for both the retail and the e-commerce industry is that brands now hold customer loyalty in much higher regard. Customer retention was an important aspect previously, but our latest report (the Global Customer Loyalty Report 2024) has found that twice as many brands want to spend more on customer retention than on customer acquisition. This shows that in difficult times, companies have learned to value their existing customers instead of chasing new ones. For this reason, many companies want to either launch their first loyalty program or re-platform their existing one to meet the expectations of the modern customer.

Attila Kecsmar, CEO, Antavo


2023: Retail's Standout Year