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Ecommerce businesses often struggle to convert online browsers into actual shoppers due to their inability to replicate the traditional “physical shopping” experience that most buyers are accustomed to. Artificial intelligence is, however, rewriting this script by helping ecommerce businesses to not only attract but also retain customers. Businesses cannot, therefore, ignore the powerhouse that AI is growing to become. That is why, e-commerce websites must considerer seriously implementing AI into their businesses and enjoy its benefits.
Here are five ways through which AI is achieving this:
1. Voice-Activated Assistants Replacing Text-Based Searches
Voice-based searches are gradually outpacing text-based searches in the world of ecommerce. People are increasingly realizing how convenient it is to ask a search question naturally instead of typing in keywords which sometimes don’t capture their exact search queries. How do voice-activated assistants work? They use AI’s sophisticated algorithms to decipher voices and make sense from speech. The number of people using this technology today is approximately one billion and according to tech futurists, the number is likely to hit two billion in the next three years.
Take Amazon Echo, for example- over 45% of its users added items to their shopping lists and another 32% made purchases via the device in 2016 alone. Another benefit that online shoppers are finding in using the voice-based assistants is that after gradually accumulating a user’s shopping data, the assistants are able to accurately predict an individual’s shopping needs and advise him/her when the need arises. That unique rapport between humans and AI is making shopping easier and fun, which means that its future can only be brighter.
2. The Visual Search Technologies: the Game-Changer
In the same way voice-activated assistants are gradually substituting text-based searches in the ecommerce industry, visual search technologies are revolutionizing the shoppers’ experience by enabling people to input images of their preferred shopping items as their search criteria. This technology was first put to test by Neiman Marcus clothing brand in 2015 and as a consequence of the brand’s unprecedented online success that year, other ecommerce brands such as Nike or Aussie Disposals started investing in the technology.
The 3D visual search technology enables users to take photos of the product they wish to buy, submit them via their smartphones, and then through artificial intelligence, they can find all the items similar to the submitted pictures that are available in a given store’s catalog. One of the industries that is reaping big from these developments is the fashion industry.
3. AI Is the “Personal Shoppers” and “Customer Attendants” Of the Future
As we saw earlier, AI beats humans in that it can track an individual’s shopping data and accurately predict the items he/she desires. As people from across the world get busier and shopping time scarce, AI-powered personal shoppers are positioning themselves as the personal shoppers of the future. Shoppers will be relying on AIs to know when new items arrive in a store, which of them they should buy, and their accurate prices.
Come to think of it: AI-powered personnel are cheaper, faster, and more efficient than human personnel… what, then, will prevent them from becoming the sales assistants and customer care agents of tomorrow? As a matter of fact, they can read and translate databases and then reliably respond to customer queries. AI-powered personnel can also read through databases and offer each client a specific discount/coupon for a product they have been trying to buy lately. This way, the discount offered would be very targeted for one person versus posting the coupon on a discount site such as Dealwiki or others. This is a potential that e-commerce can tap into today and in the future.
4. Augmented Reality Recreating the “Physical Store Experience” for Online Shoppers
The greatest challenge to ecommerce is its inability to imitate the brick-and-mortar stores in regards to shoppers, particularly fashion shoppers, trying out new items before making their orders. Thanks to augmented reality, however, this challenge could soon be a thing of the past. Shoppers can now try out new clothes without stepping foot in a physical brick-and-mortar store. In a nutshell, AI is helping ecommerce business to create the “physical store” experience for their online shoppers.
5. Protecting a Brand’s Image Online
Most online shoppers don’t have the time nor place to source for word-of-mouth reviews about a product prior to purchasing it, which is unfortunate because such reviews are in most cases reliable. As such, they turn to the online product reviews as their primary source of information about a brand. Online reviews aren’t always reputable because competing brands sometimes sponsor negative reviews to tarnish each other’s online reputation. That’s where AI systems come in.
AI systems have the ability of capturing and storing data about all online shoppers for a given ecommerce brand. Secondly, it’s easy to program them in such a way that they discern fake reviews from a pool of online reviews. Brands can, therefore, tap into this potential and put AI systems as their reputation cops. The systems can, for example, delete all the fake reviews or block malicious users from reviewing a given brand.
From the current business trends, AI will potentially revolutionize every aspect of business as we know it today within the next one decade. Tech experts are already predicting that by 2020, more than 80% of the ecommerce world will be managed by AI systems.