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How Artificial Intelligence Is Reshaping ECommerce

Maria Marinina
Maria Marinina
Apr 06, 2017

AI will have control over our everyday lives, but only because we want it to.

Artificial intelligence will take over. But it’s not going to be an apocalyptic scenario, unless the latest U.S. military developments actually come up with a mind of their own.

AI will have control over our everyday lives, but only because we want it to. For some people, Siri or Cortana already play this role, as AI assistants.

A perfect example of AI automation is the US stock market that sees around around 70 percent of trades being done by automated algorithms. Gartner predicts that by 2020 over 80 percent of all customer interactions will be handled by AI. We can already see automation taking over with services like Amazon Go, being advertised as an AI-based shopping experience.

But how will AI change the landscape of online shopping and other forms of online commerce? How can business owners leverage this sprawling AI ecosystem to their advantage? Let’s find out.

Product discovery is becoming instantaneous

With services like CamFind, people can already leverage the power of artificial intelligence to facilitate their shopping. It’s the perfect mix of augmented reality and AI that has the potential to transform how businesses do their marketing, address user experience issues and creates revenue streams. Given that, according to some studies, over 50 percent of young shoppers are interested in VR and AR products, AI will see even more implementations like that.

RankBrain is Google’s own take on artificial intelligence — an AI-based search algorithm that has a lot of practical implications for businesses. Algorithms like these will eventually remove any possibility of gaming search engines to get traffic and increase sales.

What can businesses do in order to prepare themselves for these kinds of advances in eCommerce?

They should focus the majority of their eCommerce website development efforts on better user experience and quality content. After all, this is what will matter to AI and companies that create machine-learning products. Google, for example, likes to stress the importance of user experience. With more information, instant product discovery and the growing pace of online shopping, the average attention span of an online user has decreased by 30 percent over the last 15 years. 

Now you have even less time to capture users, with exactly the right products that they were looking for and in a convenient way. You can also use content that might give your brand an opportunity to build a relationship with the user. It’s pretty obvious from these developments that SEO and other technical marketing tools will be neglected by artificial intelligence and app-based shopping assistants. And this takes us to our next point.

Mobile shopping is becoming more viable

Although there’s the browsing versus buying gap when it comes to mobile users (only 16 percent of eCommerce dollars are spent via mobile), AI-based technologies are already here to close it. This is a huge window of opportunity for businesses. We can already see big companies pioneer the machine-learning way in hopes of getting a competitive advantage.

Macy’s teamed up with IBM’s Watson to simplify shopping for mobile users. There’s a growing number of various shopping assistance apps, like Mona or AI apps by famous brands, like “My Starbucks Barista.” All of these products have a single goal – to make mobile the default shopping domain and close that revenue gap, where desktop shoppers are at the top.

Companies that really want to exploit this trend have to include mobile app development or mobile UX efforts as parts of their growth strategy. 

Customer service is getting more sustainable

Providing proper customer care is one of the most important aspects of today’s business. For example, 73 percent of customers tend to like brands specifically for their support. And since customers prefer human interactions for a quality customer care experience, a growing business might find this specific chunk of their expenditures to be taxing on their bottom line. But there’s no getting away from this important part of running a business — it’s six times cheaper to keep a customer than to bring a new one. And if a business wants to keep customers, adequate customer support is crucial.

Luckily, with the latest advances in AI and machine-learning, customer care is getting cheaper every day. Conversational chat bots are very popular right now. Companies like DigitalGenius merge real customer care departments with AI-based solutions.

These products greatly extend the reach of any business and its ability to communicate. Customer care becomes more effortless. This means that companies can discover additional growth and marketing opportunities. There’s no excuse for eCommerce businesses that don’t have a proper customer care process in place.

ECommerce decision-making is faster and more reliable

Machine-learning tools have greatly simplified modeling and analysis for various business niches. For example, companies like BigML and DataRobot present amazing advances in the world of data science and automated machine learning.

Although these kinds of technologies seem to be more suited for FinTech industry players, like loan and car insurance companies, there’s a window of opportunity for eCommerce businesses that are ready to fully embrace these new technologies.

AI is perfect for handling customer data, predicting visitors and their behaviors, analyzing purchasing patterns and doing all kinds of other manipulations with big sets of data.

As machine-learning tools are becoming more prevalent, eCommerce businesses find it easier to implement automation and AI solutions for their specific product or marketing needs. This is the next big thing in eCommerce that will change how businesses address planning and development.

Competition gets more brutal and unforgiving

As if businesses didn’t have enough on their hands, competitors aren’t going to wait for anybody. That’s why there is already a plenty of services that handle various elements of competitive analysis with the help of artificial intelligence. Price scraping, dynamic pricing patterns and many other intelligence nomenclatures are now handled by companies like Clavis, Indix or Quicklizard.

It is projected that AI will be responsible for an economic impact of up to $33 trillion in annual growth and cost reduction. Companies that fail to get on board and efficiently utilize machine-learning tools are going to get left behind in terms of revenue and expansion.

In general, AI and machine-learning platforms open a myriad of opportunities for eCommerce businesses. The biggest problem, at this point, is cost/benefit rationalization for many of these practices and products. Companies that adopt automated data science and AI tools early on may suffer due to increased costs and ‘imperfections’ in many of the products offered in this niche. At the same time, companies that refuse to innovate may soon end up on the curb and stagnate.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Willyam Bradberry

Maria Marinina
Maria Marinina
As marketing manager at the software development company Itransition, Maria Marinina brings over 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and public relations. Maria’s primary focus is to drive business growth through increased brand awareness and lead generation.