By David Kosmayer
What comes to mind when you think of artificial intelligence? Some think about advances in technology; others think how it has made life easier and the world a better place. For the uninitiated, they may even see images of a terminator style judgement day scenario. However you may feel about the concept, artificial intelligence is here, and it’s here to stay.
So, what is artificial intelligence? How do we define it in a way that is easy to understand when there are many competing conceptions and understandings floating across the public consciousness? The simplest way to explain AI is to define it as a computer system handling a task previously handled by a human. Because of the seemingly endless potential of a computer system, and its ability to multitask simultaneously, we are not only seeing computer systems performing these tasks, but we are now seeing these tasks completed more effectively and efficiently.
As the power of artificial intelligence develops, eCommerce companies are using it to their advantage and developing smarter, more effective ways to market their products. In order to stay competitive, it’s vital for businesses to jump into the eCommerce marketplace head first and be prepared to take advantage of everything artificial intelligence offers.
Many online marketplaces now have chatbots for communicating with customers, both prior to and after your purchase. In most scenarios, consumers aren’t chatting with an actual customer service representative at all – they are communicating with a machine. eCommerce companies are able to use this tool to chat with as many users as needed without limit, and at any hour of the day.
Many people now have welcomed the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa as a new member of their family. Each of these virtual assistants have the ability to recognize a person’s voice and learn about their habits and preferences. These assistants are also available to help individuals shop in the digital marketplace.
For example, Alexa can be used to purchase anything that you’d need to order off of Amazon’s website. Alexa is even able to suggest items based on your purchase history, and keep track of the delivery status of your order.
One of the most important aspects of selling things online is to be able to accurately and correctly price your products. Companies that price their products too low won’t be maximizing potential profit. If items are priced too high, shoppers will find a better price elsewhere. Shopping on the internet, and using shopping search engines, make it easy to find the best price.
Artificial intelligence engines have the ability to assess the digital market to verify that your product is priced accurately. AI even has the ability to verify and change the pricing of your product continuously, depending on the market landscape at that particular moment. eCommerce companies that build a good reputation for appropriate pricing will drive customers to their shopping portals and keep them there, knowing they aren’t going to find better pricing on other websites.
Much like accurate pricing, having an appropriate inventory is very important for a business’ survival. Companies that have too many items on hand are wasting resources and will, possibly, run into item expiration issues. If there are not enough goods on hand, items will sell out too quickly and have to go on backorder, leading to losses in revenue and customers.
Artificial intelligence has the ability to determine the exact quantity of each item that should be kept in stock and is able to automatically trigger restocking processes, when needed. AI can use historical sales data, market sales data, and predictive analysis to verify and appropriate precise amounts of inventory are kept in place at all times.
Marketing can be expensive. When a product is marketed to a consumer, targeted marketing helps keep costs down and improves ad effectiveness. Artificial intelligence and machine learning within the public’s day-to-day usage of search engines, e-mail, web shopping, and social networks plays a pivotal role in targeted marketing. Determining the consumer’s age, gender, and geographical location are also important information AI gathers when creating customer profiles.
A common compliment used among sales and marketing professionals is, “You can sell ice to an Alaskan.” But the real question to be asked is which target market would benefit most from the selling of ice? With AI-powered target marketing, eCommerce sites can be sure that their “ice” is marketed towards those who have a need for it such as “Floridians,” and Alaskans are offered “winter coats” instead.
The future of eCommerce will be driven by artificial intelligence; however, there will always be room for a human touch in the sales process. As stated earlier, companies that aren’t using the full potential of AI are being left behind. The Boston Consulting Group reports that companies using artificial intelligence to personalize the buying experience are seeing sales gains of 6-10 per cent, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers. In addition, Accenture is reporting AI can boost profitability rates 59 per cent in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035.
A big part of today’s business strategy is all about staying on top of digital trends and investing early into improved automated processes. Business that wait and ignore what artificial intelligence can offer will suffer, and eCommerce companies that embrace it, will move to the top of the pack. These companies will be able to market more effectively and efficiently, price more accurately, and automate appropriate inventory levels.
On top of that, artificial intelligence is making the buying process easier for consumers as well; it makes possible for users to purchase products through virtual assistants, offering an AI-driven customer support chatbot feature for shoppers addressing additional concerns.