Rethinking retail

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA)

The retail sector is on the brink of a major disruption. Is your company ready?

PwC Belgium and the Retail Academy asked decision makers in Belgium’s retail sector what they knew about AI and RPA. An overwhelming proportion reported being not very familiar or not familiar at all with AI and only moderately more familiar with RPA, yet the possibilities offered by these technologies are available now to upgrade your business.

The main reason given for lacking familiarity with these emerging technologies is poor understanding of the potential benefits, followed by perceived difficulty in implementation. Despite a reluctance to adopt AI and RPA, respondents rated the impact of human error on their business an average of 6.9 out of 10.




AI is estimated to comprise up to $15.7 trillion of the global GDP by 2030 which is more than the current output of China and India combined.


Investments in AI have increased exponentially over the last five years. The race is on to integrate AI into the retail and consumer industry and companies who delay risk falling behind their competitors.

Here are six ways AI technology can help increase efficiencies in the retail industry:


Automated checkout

Consumers can enter the store, pick up the items they want and walk right out of the door, enabling them to go shopping without the hassle of having to wait in line to pay.


Churn rate minimisation

It’s five times more costly to attract new customers than it is to retain existing ones. Churn rate minimisation technology aims to retain customers by identifying those at high-risk of abandoning a service and the parameters that influence them.


Optimising energy usage

An intelligent system monitors and optimises energy consumption, enabling businesses to drastically reduce their energy expenses.


Online search recommendation

Products and services are recommended to a user based on their past online searches and behaviour. Recommendation engines aim to influence the user’s decision.


IoT instore analysis

IoT devices create a personalised experience by ‘learning’ what type of consumers are in its proximity, in the case of retail in the store.


Sales forecasting

Predicting future sales based on Big Data analysis. An accurate sales forecast leads to stock optimisation, significant reduction of food disposal (where applicable) and profitability growth.


Economic Benefits of AI in sales forecasting

PredictifAI has been tested in large retail chains and has shown high efficiency

up to


Availability of goods on shelves increases up to 97%

more than


Inventory turnover increases up 40% due to accurate forecasting and the reduction of level of insurance inventory

up to


On average sales increase up to 2-10% due to the ability to maintain constant inventory





RPA technology is cost effective with an instant impact. It can reduce human error by automating repetitive, basic tasks while leaving employees free to pursue more value-added activities.

Here are three ways RPA technology can help increase efficiencies in the retail industry:



What can RPA be used for in terms of tax?

  • Gathering and analysing high volumes of appropriate data
  • Automated importing of financial tax workbooks
  • Completing non-financial tax return line items and information fields
  • Populating tax returns with financial data


What can RPA be used for in HR?

  • Employee master data management
  • Time and attendance management
  • Payroll
  • Benefits and personal administration management


What can RPA be used for in finance?

  • AP/AR Invoice processing
  • Automatic journal entry generation
  • Account reconciliation
  • Management reporting

Contact us

François Jaucot

François Jaucot

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 473 65 89 84

Xavier Verhaeghe

Xavier Verhaeghe

Partner, Technology Consulting, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 49 559 0840

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