Confounded by AI risks? The NRF issues guidelines for retailers

In support of the retail industry’s artificial intelligence (AI) governance and strategic planning, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has released its Principles for the Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Retail Sector.

Developed through its Center for Digital Risk & Innovation, the principles encourage what the NRF described as “appropriate and effective governance of AI” that promotes consumer trust and “facilitates ongoing innovation and beneficial use of AI technologies.”

“Retailers use AI to better serve their customers, improve the shopping experience and increase the efficiency of their operations,” said Christian Beckner, NRF vice president of retail technology & cybersecurity and executive director of the NRF Center for Digital Risk & Innovation. “As retailers of all sizes continue to expand their AI capabilities, these general principles for the use of AI are increasingly critical to the industry.”

The principles fall into the following four high-level categories:

  • Governance and Risk Management: Retailers should develop strong internal governance of AI tools and capabilities as a foundational basis for managing risks and ensuring that AI delivers expected benefits.
  • Customer Engagement and Trust: Retailers should be transparent about their uses of AI that have a legal or similarly significant effect on a customer, and establish safeguards to prevent unlawful discrimination against protected classes of individuals. They should also align their governance of consumer-facing AI applications with existing internal privacy, cybersecurity and other data governance policies.
  • Workforce Applications and Use: Retailers should engage in ongoing oversight and review of AI applications that may directly impact employees or that are used by the workforce to support business needs.
  • Business Partner Accountability: Retailers should establish clear guidelines and expectations for business partners that are providing AI tools, data sets and services.

The NRF Center for Digital Risk & Innovation was created to serve as “the focal point for NRF’s engagement on technology issues that have significant policy and risk management implications for the global retail industry.” Currently, the center has plans to develop reports and additional guidelines in the coming months that provide additional context and assist retailers with using these principles. More information about the center and its recommendations for AI is available online.

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