Retail ecommerce sales increased almost 25% in 2017, reaching $2.3 trillion. Advances in technology are one of the primary factors contributing to this increase.
One area of particular interest is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI technology is one of the ecommerce future trends that online retailers are beginning to leverage to increase sales and operational efficiencies.
In this post, we take a closer look at what AI technology is, how it can benefit your ecommerce business, and what you should be focusing on to leverage AI.
What is Artificial Intelligence technology?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a subdiscipline of computer science. The goal of AI is to enable computers or machines to perform things normally done by humans, particularly those tasks or decisions that require an intelligent thought process.
AI requires historical data which is used to build a training set to teach the system. The system analyzes this data and responds to it, adding a layer of reasoning on top of the analysis. ‘If-then’ thinking is used. The AI system draws conclusions and make predictions.
This predictive ability of AI opens new doors in the ecommerce world. Retailers can harness the power of AI in many ways to create efficiencies, attract new customers, and increase sales.
But you need to know how, and you need to know where to start. So let’s dig a little deeper to truly understand how AI can help your ecommerce business grow.
The benefits of Artificial Intelligence for your ecommerce business
Let’s focus on some of the simplest ways you can leverage Artificial Intelligence technology so you can capitalize on some of the ecommerce trends of 2018.
Ecommerce shoppers have come to expect personalization when they are shopping, and expectations continue to rise. AI technology allows you to create a more personalized shopping experience for customers in three ways: dynamic filters, categories, and bundles.
- Dynamic filters – Many ecommerce sites already analyze the browsing history of customers to surmise the other products shoppers may be interested in. But AI can take this a step further by applying new characteristics (called “fuzzy” attributes) to products, making new connections between products, and creating new suggested filters for shoppers to sort by.
- Dynamic categories – AI has the ability identify new categories of products that may be of interest to your customers by analyzing shopper history and drawing relevancy conclusions between various products.
- Dynamic bundles – This refers to the “You may also be interested in” category shoppers have become familiar with on many ecommerce platforms. AI technology can make these suggested bundles more relevant and of interest to buyers. It does this by using intelligent analysis to decide which products to surface in a given bundle. This results in bundles that are more personalized to each individual shopper based on their interest, which means shoppers are more likely to add bundled items to their shopping cart. Amazon makes great use of AI algorithms to provide customized recommendations to customers, increasing sales.
You will need to decide which of these new filters and categories are worthy enough to surface to your shoppers, but with AI suggesting them, you save time and can quickly adapt to the latest trends and present your products in ways most likely to entice your shoppers.
AI delivers more intelligent searches. Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be used to overcome spelling errors so buyers are still presented with the right results – even if their search contains mistakes.
AI can also enable your ecommerce business to remember how a given user searches, saving their search preferences and proactively guiding them to the products they are most likely to be interested in. This saves your customers time and effort, creating a more efficient shopping experience and improving customer satisfaction.
Better customer service with chatbots
Artificial Intelligence chatbots are growing in popularity, and consumers are becoming more inclined to use them, especially for customer service issues. This is one of the ecommerce trends for 2018 you do not want to miss out on.
A recent survey found that 67% of consumers used chatbots for customer service support in the past year. There are several benefits to chatbots:
- Fewer human customer service agents are required.
- You can offer 24/7 customer service support.
- Customers can get simple issues resolved faster without waiting in a queue to speak to someone.
- Human agents can devote their time to resolving more complex issues customers may have – a better use of their time.
This hybrid customer service approach can help medium-sized and smaller businesses offer the same level and quality of customer service as the larger companies in their space.
Automating tasks can save you a lot of time and resources, making it easier to run your ecommerce business. AI can automate a number of ecommerce business processes:
- Posting new products on multiple sales channels.
- Scheduling sales on certain products.
- Offering discounts at checkout to preferred customers.
- Adjusting prices for products based on various data points, such as inventory levels and demand.
Increased mobile sales
The share of ecommerce sales completed on mobile devices increased by 40% between 2015 and 2017, making “m-commerce” an important area for ecommerce retailers who are serious about growing their business. AI technology will further contribute to an increase in mobile sales.
Search optimization for mobile and voice-activated search make searching for products on a smartphone a lot easier. AI assistant apps are also growing in popularity and make the mobile shopping experience simpler.
An example is the My Starbucks barista voice assistant app, which allows customers to order and pay via voice.
What you need to do
Taking advantage of AI in your ecommerce business may sound daunting, but there are some simple steps you can take to get started.
Gather data and integrate
Historical data forms the basis of any AI system. It takes time to gather enough data to build a comprehensive training set.
If you’re not already gathering data on customers, you need to start. But the data also needs to be analyzed and integrated with you Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and ecommerce systems.
Fortunately, integration is now simple and affordable with Alluvia’s revolutionary integrator.
Focus on mobile
AI will push more and more shoppers towards mobile purchases, so you need to make sure your ecommerce business is mobile-ready.
This means you need to devote some time to creating an ideal mobile user experience. You may also want to consider if a mobile storefront app is a good avenue to explore.
Make your site user-friendly
Quality content and a positive user experience are important – now more than ever. AI technology captures data based on customers’ shopping habits and browsing history.
You need to make sure you’re presenting your products in the best way possible, making chopping and checkout easy and efficient. This ensures you will capture high-quality data that can be used by AI in a meaningful way.
Stay focused on customer service
Customer service has and always will be important to a successful ecommerce business. AI opens doors with chatbots so you can serve your customers in new ways and save money as fewer human agents are needed.
Assess your current customer service program to see how AI can fit in and how quickly you can see an ROI on investment in a chatbot. This is often one of the most cost-effective areas in AI ecommerce, making it a great area to start.
As you explore the realm of Artificial Intelligence for your ecommerce business, take the time to educate yourself and weight the cost and benefits of any avenue you explore.
AI technology can do a lot to help your business expand and create efficiencies in your workflow, but any investment must be well-researched. Those completely new to the AI game are better off starting slow and testing the waters to gain a solid understanding of what AI can do for you.