Four Ways AI is Redefining the eCommerce Industry
The eCommerce industry has seen unparalleled growth over the past decade, with sales in the U.S. alone reaching $79.4 billion in 2020. As eCommerce businesses grow, they’re turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve the customer’s experience on their platforms.
There will always be a need for a human touch when it comes to business operations like strategy and customer service, but AI’s value in terms of automating and streamlining processes can’t be ignored.
Optimyze Digital has curated a list of four ways that AI is redefining the customer experience on eCommerce platforms.
The most lucrative businesses understand and cater to their customers’ likes, dislikes, wants and needs. That’s where personalization comes in. Traditionally, eCommerce stores haven’t been able to offer personalized service to the same extent as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, who have the advantage of inventory that customers can touch and try out before deciding whether to buy.
What eCommerce does have is data. AI tools can help business owners monitor customers’ search queries as well as their journey from finding a product to placing an order. If lots of customers are abandoning their shopping carts during a certain step, for example, AI could help you identify and address the problem. The data can also help marketers predict customer behavior, group customers into segments based on activity, and target each segment with personalized messages, alerts and product suggestions.
Virtual and augmented reality technology even makes it possible for eCommerce sellers to emulate the physical shopping experience. Trusted by brands such as Instant Pot and Allbirds, Shopify AR enables sellers to craft immersive shopping experiences, like interacting with a three-dimensional representation of a product.
Streamlined Payment Processing
Another area where AI has proven useful for eCommerce businesses is payment processing. Before, online vendors have struggled to build or integrate payment processing portals that can handle all kinds of orders from around the world. With newer solutions like Bitcoin and e-wallets on the rise, though, emerging technologies will make the payment process more efficient.
Visual Search + Voice Search
Text-based searching — i.e., searching for something by typing a descriptor for it in a search bar — has long been the norm for online shopping and internet browsing in general. All too often, though, we find a picture of something we want, but either can’t describe it or try in vain to find it through text-based search.
Several eCommerce players have shifted toward visual search, AI-based technology that can produce search results based on a picture submitted by the customer. Visual search is particularly useful for fashion, interior decorating and other design-based vendors, as it can help customers find products based on color, fabric, shape, size, etc., without the frustration of the search bar.
Similarly, voice search technology allows customers to dictate what they want to find. Esteé Lauder’s voice-activated skincare advisor “Liv” and Purina’s Alexa extension “Ask Purina” are just two examples of how companies have embraced voice search as part of their business strategies.
Customer Service Automation
AI chatbots that can respond to customers’ inquiries simultaneously and in real time (Acquire Live Chat, for example) are making it easier for eCommerce businesses to successfully close sales and retain customers. Since AI is self-learning, chatbots can store the information from each interaction, then use that information to improve the speed and accuracy of their responses. Since consumers still prefer humans to chatbots, it’s best to look for AI solutions that can work in tandem with customer service personnel.
It’s clear that the value of human labor and insight isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, a solid eCommerce business strategy will almost certainly involve tapping into AI tools that can facilitate smoother experiences for both sellers and buyers.
How else can businesses leverage AI to drive sales and operate more effectively? Connect with Optimyze Digital to learn more about what you can do to prepare for the future of eCommerce.