Businesses operating in highly competitive environments such as ecommerce have to employ increasingly sophisticated methods for acquiring and retaining customers to gain an edge over their rivals. And one approach that has been gaining more traction recently in the ecommerce sector is to leverage the power of artificial intelligence for the purpose of accomplishing these goals. AI used to be something you could only find in state of the art R&D labs, but as the technology developed, an increasing number of AI-based solutions started appearing on the free market. Ecommerce outfits took advantage of this opportunity, and have since started using AI in their day-to-day operations. To find out more about how AI is being utilized in the world of ecommerce, check out our short primer on the topic in the rest of the article below.
For the longest time, consumers were limited to using text-based search for finding products and services online. Today, they have another option on their disposal, namely image-based search. By uploading a photo of an item, consumers can now easily find matching products for sale at various ecommerce stores, as well as physical retailers near their location. To identify the uploaded images, image-based search services are using pattern recognition, a process whereby an AI analyzes pictures for patterns and regularities, and then attempts to match them with an item in its database. And the more images an AI analyzes, the better it becomes at identifying the objects they depict. The rising prominence of image search is driving ecommerce businesses to start using better quality photos in product sections of their digital storefronts, to increase the odds of having their websites appear on relevant search engine result pages
Connecting Online and Offline Shopping
These visual search capabilities can now create ties from online to offline like never before. The image-search capabilities of AI are strengthening the connections between the online world and physical reality to an unprecedented level. Online retailers start to redefine the ways in which consumers interact with their brands. In the future, these ecommerce operations will have even more data on their customers, which will allow them to improve their customer experience, leading to improved sales down the line. This integration of online and offline aspects of shopping will minimize the steps need to purchase an item or a service, giving more autonomy to customers. As AIs become more advanced, they will start gathering more and more information about consumer behavior online, further streamlining the shopping process.
Parsing Voice Search Requests
Voice commands are becoming more popular as a way of interacting with electronic devices. This trend has also had an impact on how people search for products online. Namely, consumers are now more likely to perform voice-based searches when looking for products to buy. And voice search is another area where AI is having a major impact. Specifically, AIs are being used to parse voice commands through a process called natural language processing. The idea behind NLP is similar to the one behind image recognition – an AI looks for common speech patterns in order to identify what is being said, as well as the intent behind the saying. Top digital agencies are already adapting to this trend by designing websites with content that is more in line with the way people speak in everyday life
Personalized Product Suggestions
Personalized product suggestions are not exactly new in the field of ecommerce. However, thanks to the wider availability of AI-based tech, ecommerce outfits of all sizes can now utilize advanced tools for personalization. Online retailers currently use various means of collaborative filtering to give consumers product recommendations. These filters are based on a combination of factors, including the consumers viewing history, current store bestsellers, overarching shopping trends, and others. This kind of approach has a limitation in that it focuses on only a single data-channel, whether it is the online storefront, or a brick and mortar shop. What AI can offer instead is the ability to integrate multiple channels of data to provide more personalized shopping suggestions. As consumers go about their business online, the AI can track their behavior and search for clues about the products they like, and then forward this data to ecommerce businesses.
Virtual Shopping Assistants
Common business wisdom dictates that consumers derive pleasure from the act of shopping, and that they are willing to devote significant time doing it. However, in today’s fast paced world, people have less and less time to spend on endlessly browsing for items. What they need instead is someone to do the shopping for them, ideally someone that know their every shopping whim and desire. And what if that someone was not a real person, but an AI? A growing number of ecommerce businesses are now experimenting with AI-powered shopping assistants, sales reps, and customer services providers to fully automate the shopping experience. These AI assistants work faster than humans, and they never need to take a break. They can answer any question the customers have by accessing vast databases, and they even can even have a personality of their own.
Fake Review Detection
One of the more interesting uses for AI in ecommerce is for discovering fake reviews. The majority of consumers base their purchasing decisions in part on the opinions of others. And a big source of these opinions are online review sections. Unfortunately, these sections are also ripe for abuse. Paid reviewers, online trolls, and various kinds of bots often use these places to post fake reviews, so consumers have a hard time telling which reviews are genuine, and which are just background noise. One way of tackling this issue is to train AI systems to look for fake reviews, and automatically delete those that can be identified as such. And the more reviews they analyze, the better they become at detecting problematic ones in the future.
AI truly is a game-changer when it comes to ecommerce. The sooner businesses start adopting AI into their workflow, the better prepared they will be for the AI-dominated future that’s already on the horizon.
Natasha is a web designer, lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about IT, digital marketing and business trends. To see what she is up to next, check out her Twitter Dashboard.