Retail is changing fast—like really fast. Technology isn’t just a helpful tool anymore; it’s shaking up how businesses connect and manage customers. At the heart of this change is artificial intelligence (AI), transforming customer service, boosting efficiency, and reshaping the roles of human workers.

To get the scoop on this tech revolution and how it shapes the future, we talked to Tatum Bisley from Cirrus, a leader in contact centre solutions, about how AI is shaking up the retail world. Cirrus’s latest white paper delves into how AI improves customer experiences, streamlines operations, and creates supportive work environments. Our chat with Tatum uncovers AI’s immediate and long-term impacts in retail, highlighting its challenges and enormous potential.

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Q&A with Tatum Bisley

Tatum Bisley: “We’re super excited about our latest white paper, which goes into this in detail. AI is completely changing how retail works, making things faster and smarter. In contact centres, the biggest benefits are quicker, more accurate customer service. AI helps process questions faster, cutting wait times and making customers happier. Plus, AI can predict what customers need and offer proactive support, improving the shopping experience and boosting loyalty.”

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Tatum Bisley: “AI is a game-changer for customer service because it handles routine questions quickly, letting human employees focus on more complex issues. Klarna is a great example—they use AI to do tasks normally requiring hundreds of people. In the UK, this could save millions each year. AI tools make service faster and more efficient, providing a smooth, personal experience. Customers expect quick, hassle-free service in their language, and AI delivers. What sets these technologies apart is their ability to learn from interactions and offer personalised service, making each shopping experience unique.”

Tatum Bisley: “Digital tools are streamlining everything from checkouts to inventory tracking. Some stores use AI to predict busy times and adjust staffing, cutting wait times. We’ve also seen improvements in inventory management—AI predicts popular products and ensures they’re stocked, reducing overstock and shortages. Klarna’s contact centre handles queries in 35 languages and has cut service time from 11 minutes to just 2 minutes, boosting efficiency and customer satisfaction while lowering costs.”

Tatum Bisley: “AI is starting to play a big role in looking after staff well-being. Retail Trust has created an AI-powered dashboard to help retailers like FatFace and Next improve staff mental health. This ‘happiness dashboard’ tracks well-being trends and offers tips to boost engagement, reduce absenteeism, and increase retention. AI can also monitor stress levels and suggest breaks, or create flexible schedules that fit better with employees’ lives, making the workplace healthier and more supportive.”

Tatum Bisley: “Balancing automation with keeping people employed is crucial. As AI and machines become more common, we must create new job opportunities in AI management, tech support, and data analysis. The goal is to use technology to enhance jobs, not just replace them. Deploying AI ethically is important, ensuring it doesn’t worsen inequalities. Thoughtful implementation considers societal impacts, like job displacement and community effects.”

Tatum Bisley: “Retail jobs will focus more on human interaction and unique customer experiences as AI takes over routine tasks. We must retrain and upskill workers, helping them develop skills that complement technology, like digital literacy and problem-solving. Collaboration between businesses, governments, and schools is essential to address these changes. Policies on minimum income, AI regulation, and incentives for job-creating AI development will help ensure a fair transition for all workers.”

Our chat with Tatum Bisley clarifies that combining AI with retail strategies isn’t just about keeping up with technology—but embracing it to boost human interactions and efficiency. Tatum’s insights highlight AI’s power to drive the retail industry towards a more customer-focused and resilient future. Adopting these changes is critical to staying competitive and relevant for retail employees. This conversation highlights we are just at the start of understanding how AI can empower and elevate the retail experience, ensuring the industry thrives through innovation and inclusivity.