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State-of-the-art and adoption of artificial intelligence in retailing

Felix Dominik Weber (Department of Information Systems, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, NRW, Germany)
Reinhard Schütte (Department of Information Systems, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, NRW, Germany)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Article publication date: 20 May 2019

Issue publication date: 17 July 2019




In the most abstract way, artificial intelligence (AI) allows human work to be shifted toward technological systems that are currently not fully capable. Following this, the domain of retail can be sketched as a natural fit for the application of AI tools, which are known for their high proportion of human work and concurrent low profit margins. This paper aims to explore the current dissemination of the application of AI within the industry. The value-added core tasks of retail companies are examined to determine the possible utilization and the market adoption within the globally largest retail companies is given.


The paper uses two different approaches to identify the scientific state-of-the-art: a search on the major scientific databases and an empirical study of the ten largest international retail companies and their adoption of AI technologies in the domains of wholesale and retail.


The application within the different value-added core tasks varies greatly depending on the area. In summary, there are numerous possible applications in all areas. Especially, in areas where future forecasts are needed within the task areas (such as marketing or replenishment), the use of AI, today, is both scientifically and practically highly developed. In contrast, the market adoption of AI is highly variable. The pioneers have integrated extensive applications into everyday business, while the challengers are investing heavily in new initiatives. Some others, however, show neither active use nor any effort to adopt such technology.


To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is one of the first research contributions to analyze the areas of application and the impact of AI structured along the value-added core processes of retail companies.



Weber, F.D. and Schütte, R. (2019), "State-of-the-art and adoption of artificial intelligence in retailing", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 264-279.



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