The Transformational Impact of AI on E-Commerce
E-commerce is an ever-growing, ever-evolving sector that manages to surprise everyone every year. Statistics spell out that 70% of decision-makers in the e-commerce world believe AI will help them personalize customer shopping experiences in their online retail stores.
The capabilities of artificial intelligence, viewed in the context of increasing competition among businesses, have made itself not a choice but a necessity. The e-commerce platform that successfully employs AI on its platform will have a remarkable edge over its competitors.
AI in e-commerce is changing the way consumers shop and are served on an online store. At every touchpoint, some form of artificial intelligence is at work, assisting the consumers and collecting data for the business.
Let’s take a better look at how AI in e-commerce is transforming businesses.
AI in E-Commerce: What’s Changing?
Artificial intelligence is mostly functioning as a prediction-based application that attempts to serve the consumers based on the history of their interactions and choice on an e-commerce platform. For example, if you are used to purchasing a certain brand of shoes on an online retail store that employs AI, you would probably start getting notifications about deals and offers on that brand soon; in the future, you may also start receiving recommendations about related products that go well with those shoes. This is what AI in e-commerce majorly does: cross-sell and up-sell by fine-tuning the suggestions with time, delivering highly relevant information to the buyers to maximize sales.
Some of the AI applications are now in widespread use across the online retail industry. Let’s see what they are.
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
While chatbots of the early days were focused mainly on automated responses in case the human assistant was away from the desk, today they are capable of holding a full-fledged conversation with the buyers. Chatbots powered with artificial intelligence are capable of interacting with customers with meaningful results – they can successfully accomplish a task without human intervention.
“How may I help you today?” – the bottom right corner of your laptop screen always has this chat bubble ready to be accessed. This is a chatbot, all equipped to assist you on your shopping journey on the website you are visiting.
A virtual assistant, although the same thing in concept as a chatbot, is a tad more capable than the former AI application. A virtual assistant can help you sail through your entire journey with a brand, as opposed to a chatbot that is there to handle the generic queries and requests.
Powering e-commerce with these AI tools has resulted in an immensely positive response from the buyers, with 21% of them agreeing that chatbots are the simplest way to contact a business. Consumers are looking for a prompt response, which a chatbot / virtual assistant can deliver to them.
Combining the power of promptness with the sharp, retentive memory of AI, e-commerce is now capable of creating individual databases for each returning consumer to weave together a personalized shopping experience for them.
Tailoring smart recommendations to customers help boost customer retention – The only way to do that is to map the shopping patterns of loyal customers and piece together some relevant products that the customer is highly likely to be interested in. This reduces the sales cycle time for that customer drastically.
Continuing with the earlier example of purchasing shoes, AI can recognize the style of the shoe purchased and recommend socks that work with it – invisible socks if you purchased ballerinas, ankle socks if you purchased trainers, long socks if you purchased cleats, and so on. AI today is even smart enough to recommend products based on your shopping history and the time of the year you are shopping (summer, winter, monsoon, etc.)
With each iteration, with each rejection and successful sale, AI improves its function with the help of machine learning. Better recommendations retain more customers since nothing appeals to a customer more than finding what they need in the least amount of time invested in looking for it.
Consumers aren’t the only aspect that AI is transforming in the world of online retail. Artificial intelligence is converting the static nature of inventory into a highly dynamic form of management.
Intelligent software can map the flux of shopping over the entire year, thus bringing into visibility the periods where higher stocking is required or periods of lull where there is idle stock in the warehouses. This greatly streamlines acquiring new stock and clearing out the existing one. Additionally, it helps in planning logistics accordingly with regard to the volume of sales received, availability in warehouses, and proximity to destination. AI does this by way of:
- Analyzing the trends in sales over the years that it has been operational. If you can give it access to earlier data, your AI retail solution may be able to utilize it for better sales projections. This helps you restock your inventory.
- Projecting changes in the demand for various products. For example, during the time of Diwali, the sale of lights and scented, decorative candles get a boost while at other times of the year, this quantum isn’t as much. Such insights are valuable to prevent over-stocking the inventory and dealing with idle items.
- Identifying issues with the supply chain. Inventory is dependent on the supply chain of an e-commerce store, and by pinpointing the issues in this chain, AI helps create an efficient system of management that keeps an inventory dynamic and updated with the latest trends.
Let’s look at some interesting examples of AI in e-commerce.
AI Instances in E-Commerce That Wowed The Crowd
If there is one thing that is impressive about using AI in the e-commerce industry, it is eliminating fake reviews. Shoppers tend to blindly believe in human recommendations and the reviews that other customers leave on retail websites – some of these can be fake reviews and may damage the reputation of a brand for no reason.
It is here that AI truly shines. Through prioritizing the comments and reviews by verified buyers and verified sellers, online retailers are using artificial intelligence to do away with detrimental comments and reviews on their products listings. It also eliminates fake positive comments that indirectly harm the reputation of the seller.
Another impressive instance can be seen in a seamless cross-channel shopping experience aided by AI. Smoothly integrating the journey of a customer across various channels while retaining all the information about his history with the brand enables a high level of customer engagement. This stands to benefit any brand directly. The technical buzzword for this today is “Omnichannel commerce”. Not only does this ensure that the customer does not navigate away from the real estate of your brand, but also guarantees loyalty and retention if done right.
Artificial intelligence is proving to be a necessary augmentation to the workflows of e-commerce. Its capabilities in handling things upfront and at the backend as well spell its utility out very clearly. From handling customers to managing inventory, from planning logistics to recommending products – AI is already transforming how e-commerce functions. It is streamlining the industry and smoothening out its creases, and very rapidly too.
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AskSid is a global conversational solutions company that partners with retail brands to elevate shopping experiences by leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence. Our capabilities extend beyond support automation, extending to insight extraction, analysis, and business opportunity generation, all by leveraging the power of conversational data. We combine domain expertise and cutting-edge technology to build a Retail AI Brain for our clients, that mines insights from conversational data and becomes the basis of the business opportunity creation we offer. The power of actionable customer data has allowed us to create value and bring change to global brands including AkzoNobel, Danone, Wolford, Akris, and Himalaya. AskSid has live implementations in 23+ countries and supports 100+ international languages, managing millions of satisfied customers the world over.
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