Artificial intelligence has embedded itself into various aspects of our lives. With the technology evolving at an amazing pace, we’re all well aware that it’s profoundly shaping our world and the way we do things. Various sectors, from aviation to service, have implemented AI-driven solutions across business functions. Ultimately, by changing the operational modes across different industries, AI is changing the consumer’s place – and experience – within those industries.
It’s no surprise then, that e-commerce, an industry whose foundations lie in the digital world, is embracing the AI revolution wholeheartedly. The ever-evolving and competitive nature of the e-commerce landscape demands the implementation of the latest technologies. Consequently, AI is deeply influencing the development of e-commerce, and here’s how.
Changing the way we search for products
The shopping experience is visual – but the problem that e-commerce continually faces is that keyword searches can’t adequately match this visual portrayal. More often than not, online shoppers know what they want, but it is difficult for them to come up with the right search words. There’s a wide gap between natural language and keyword search – one that is hurting e-commerce and that AI hasn’t been able to solve thus far.
But with the advancement of visual search, this gap will be bridged in the future. Software platforms are creating visual search capabilities which would allow consumers to upload an image in order to search for a product. This doesn’t only make product search a whole lot easier and more natural, but it is going to result in hoards of shoppers who didn’t mean to shop: with voice search, people are more likely to act on their impulse. We’ll be able to upload photos of the things we see and love in passing, so e-commerce stores will have a much easier time making use of micro-moments.
Interactive shopping experiences
The rise of chatbots is changing the way we shop – and it’s making shopping better than most people had anticipated. We’re already witnessing how people enjoy engaging with brands’ bots on Facebook Messenger. Numerous brands have utilized chatbots on messaging platforms, whom consumers can now approach to help them find what they’re looking for. This change is especially important within the e-commerce industry because it’s helping businesses seamlessly shift the conversion process to where the consumers hang out online: messaging platforms.
But this is only the beginning. E-commerce is heading in the direction of providing personal shopping assistants to consumers. These AI systems would be able to provide recommendations by analysing huge amounts of data in a short period of time, thus offering a highly personalized shopping experience. The shopping experience would reflect that of a brick-and-mortar store, where we might get recommendations and assistance, but it would be amplified by the AI system’s precise analytic capabilities. And thanks to machine learning, these intelligent personal shopping assistants will be able to perform human-like interactions and engage in conversations naturally.
Merging channels to enhance personalization
The e-commerce industry has been continuously aiming to personalize the shopping experience. Moreover, the top digital agencies specialized in e-commerce make personalization central to their marketing strategy, relying on large quantities of data to ensure more customized experiences from the very first stages of the sales funnel. But the recommendations consumers get from online retailers so far are based on data derived from a single channel – the website, the mobile app, or the physical store. Data collected from a single channel can’t account for all the subtle shopping habits.
The emerging AI technologies are changing the process of personalization from the core because they can analyse data across multiple channels. Deep learning algorithms are able to orchestrate the data collected from various channels to bring highly personalized recommendations.
It’s fascinating to see how this technological evolution is ultimately connecting the online and offline world. As AI helps merge multiple channels into a single intelligent system, offline shopping will also become more optimized. Brick-and-mortar stores will also rely on data collected online to provide a more customized shopping experience and valuable recommendations for each shopper. This way, e-commerce stores won’t have all the competitive advantage, so we can expect retailers spreading across various channels, both online and offline.
We’re already seeing AI technology implemented to provide efficient customer support, identify the right audiences for ads, track competitors, help train employees, etc. Operations are being simplified with the help of technology, thus giving humans more space and time to focus on things such as developing strategies and guiding businesses in a desired direction. There’s a lot more room for focusing on the customer, and it will continue to expand in the future.
Overall, e-commerce is heading into another era with the help of AI. This is an era that’s entirely oriented at the customer, catering to consumers’ needs better than we could previously ever imagine. That’s why leveraging artificial intelligence will be key to maintaining customer loyalty in the digital era, in e-commerce especially.