Navigating the Retailer’s Decision:
Build or Buy

Paving the Path to Retail Transformation with AI

In the ever-evolving landscape of retail, a seismic shift is underway, and at its epicenter lies Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is a force that is not just reshaping but redefining the retail industry. 

AI is not merely a tool; it’s the cornerstone that enriches product data, elevates customer experiences, optimizes sales strategies, and unlocks unprecedented growth opportunities. The question that reverberates through boardrooms and retail corridors alike is this: How can retailers expedite their AI transformation? 

In this exploration, we will dissect the critical decision retailers confront—the choice between build vs buy AI software. This decision, it turns out, can make all the difference in the race to retail’s future.


Ecommerce Retailers Dilemma- Build vs Buy AI
Ecommerce Retailers Dilemma- Build vs Buy AI

Building the AI Foundation for Ecommerce Retailers

For many ecommerce retailers, building an in-house AI solution may appear to be a promising route. It presents the prospect of crafting tailored solutions that align seamlessly with their unique business needs. However, beneath the surface of this alluring option lie challenges and complexities.

This approach allows ecommerce retailers to create a tailored AI system, offering benefits such as customization, full control, and data product management.

Building an In-House AI Solution: The Challenges

  • Resource-Intensive: Developing an in-house AI solution demands a substantial investment of both time and resources. This encompasses recruiting AI experts, meticulous project scoping, intricate design and development, and rigorous testing.
  • Distracting from Core Functions: Allocating resources to AI software development can divert your attention from core business functions like product design, production, and sales. This diversion can hinder overall growth and innovation, creating a difficult trade-off.
  • Mastery of the Unknown: AI may not be a core competency for many ecommerce retailers, thrusting them into unfamiliar territory. In-house AI development requires continuous learning, adaptation, and staying at the forefront of a rapidly evolving field—a significant challenge for any organization.
  • Return on Investment Uncertainty: The investment in building AI internally carries an inherent risk—the absence of a guaranteed return on investment. This uncertainty can be a source of anxiety for retailers seeking a clear path to profitability.
  • Lack of Comprehensive Support: Building an in-house AI solution often lacks the support of a dedicated customer and technology team with implementation, onboarding, and optimization experience. This absence can result in inefficiencies and obstacles down the road.

Buying Option

Now, let’s delve into the buying options for ecommerce retailers. This alternative approach provides quick access to pre-packaged AI solutions designed to expedite AI integration. However, it does come with its share of challenges.

The Advantages of Buying Off-the-Shelf AI: Convenience and Accessibility

  • Ecommerce retailers who opt for the buying option gain immediate access to a range of pre-built AI solutions available in the market. These solutions are thoughtfully designed to address various AI applications, offering efficiency and accessibility.
  • Choosing this approach can swiftly harness the power of AI software development companies to enhance your retail operations.

Challenges in the Buying Option: Navigating Obstacles

While the buying option boasts numerous advantages, it also presents challenges that necessitate careful consideration:
  • Limited Customization: Off-the-shelf AI solutions are typically crafted for a broad user base and may lack the flexibility required to fully align with your unique business needs.
  • Integration Complexities: Integrating new AI software into your existing technology stack can be a complex process, potentially requiring adjustments or replacements of current systems.
  • Generic AI for Retail: Pre-packaged AI solutions may not be tailored to the intricacies of the retail industry, potentially limiting their effectiveness.
  • Cost Considerations: While often cost-effective upfront, retailers must assess the total cost of ownership, including subscription fees, customization, and ongoing support.
  • Dependency on External Providers: Relying on AI software development companies for updates and maintenance introduces dependencies that can affect continuity.
  • Data Privacy and Security: Sharing sensitive data with external providers necessitates rigorous evaluations of data privacy and security measures.
  • Scalability and Future Needs: Retailers must evaluate whether the chosen solution can scale with their business and adapt to evolving AI requirements.
Customization: Another Method for Retailers
Customization: Another Method for Retailers

Amid the binary choice of build vs buy AI solutions, a new approach emerges: customization. 

  • Instead of being limited to these two options, retailers can opt to augment their existing technology suite with specialized external resources or technologies.
  • This strategy enables retailers to create optimal technology solutions by collaborating with external AI specialists like Okkular, harnessing the strengths of each platform to provide the best consumer experience.

By leveraging AI platforms such as Okkular’s, retailers can expedite their AI initiatives, enhance performance, and remain at the forefront of technological advancements without investing excessive time and resources in internal development.

Among the three options, augmenting your business’ technology with interoperable and customizable solutions offers compelling advantages for the following reasons:

  • Rapid ROI: Partnering with AI specialists focusing on retail-specific challenges ensures a swift return on investment. Improved data products and customer-centric product attribution can significantly boost profitability.
  • Speed to Market: Augmenting existing technology with specialized AI capabilities allows retailers to launch AI initiatives faster than building in-house, gaining a competitive edge in the market.
  • Seamless Integration: Solutions from AI specialists can seamlessly integrate into your existing tech stack, eliminating the need for disruptive “rip and replace” processes.
  • Tailored to Your Business: AI specialists customize their solutions to align seamlessly with your retail needs, providing personalized and precise insights for your business.
In an era where AI is no longer just a tool but a key to unlocking the full potential of the retail business, the decision between build vs buy software or augmenting AI capabilities is critical. 

As you prepare for the future, remember that AI is not an option; it’s an imperative, which offers cutting-edge solutions for the retail sector. 

While building in-house and buying off-the-shelf AI solutions are common approaches, they come with challenges that may hinder your ability to grow and innovate. 

However, by adopting the strategy of augmenting your technology with interoperable and customizable solutions, such as Okkular’s AI, you can navigate the evolving retail landscape more effectively.

  • This approach allows you to harness the expertise and tailored AI solutions that address specific needs more effectively.
The path to success in the retail industry lies in making the right choice between building, buying, or augmentation. As you prepare to embrace the future, keep in mind that AI is not just a tool; it’s the key to unlocking the full potential of your retail business in a dynamic and competitive market. Why not explore the Free Trial with Okkular? To know more about it click here Book your Free Trial & Demo.