We’re just beginning to see how artificial intelligence can be used in eCommerce, and the potential benefits to your business are huge.

Advances in AI are transforming countless industries. By automating time-intensive tasks and redirecting resources to other, more critical tasks and projects, companies are saving money, increasing revenues and otherwise transforming their businesses.

ai-blogpost-02Systems powered by AI will touch more and more parts of the shopping experience in the next few years. So it’s important to know how to keep pace with both the plans of competitors and the expectations of customers.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Your eCommerce Brand

There are four key areas where companies have seen the benefits of artificial intelligence in eCommerce:

  1. Chatbots
  2. Customer retargeting
  3. Inventory management
  4. Email marketing

Let’s look more closely at each one.

Chatbots

What is it: Chatbots are programs designed to carry on some form of conversation or interact with a human being. Powered by AI, chatbots are designed to offer an automated method through which visitors and shoppers can have questions answered or simple requests processed.

ai-blogpost-03How AI is used in eCommerce: Chatbots are capable of handling a wide array of tasks, depending on how they’re designed. They can:

  • Aid in site searches - By intuiting what someone is looking for, chatbots can offer suggestions to relevant products or pages
  • Answer questions - Instead of the time-intensive process of emailing customer service, chatbots can handle most basic inquiries, offering other communication channels when necessary
  • Offer coupons - AI-powered chatbots can present coupons or promotions to visitors based on their behavior and what products are being viewed
  • Suggest related content - Relevant blog posts, photos and more can be offered to aid in a visitor’s decision-making process 

Using chatbots to automate these and other tasks solves a variety of problems, from the difficulty in scaling customer service teams to converting site visitors to customers. This allows any commerce business to enhance the customer experience and aid in sales, loyalty and more.

Customer Retargeting

What is it: Retargeting is a marketing tactic designed to turn potential customers into actual customers. It uses their site behavior and other information to display relevant ads and messages and bring shoppers back to finish making a purchase. 

ai-blogpost-04How AI is used in eCommerce: Cart abandonment is a problem for many online retailers. As many as 97 percent of first-time visitors to an eCommerce site leave without buying anything. 

Predictive tools and enhanced behavioral tracking using AI can help bring back some of those shoppers through ads offering them an incentive to return to the site and finish making a purchase. This is accomplished by:

  • Analyzing customer behavior - What product pages were viewed, what was the time on site, and what was the last page visited before leaving? 
  • Determining intent - Did they abandon a cart after adding items to it? What searches did they perform on the site? Also, what other sites have they visited? 

There are any number of reasons someone may have stopped short of finalizing their purchase. By using AI-powered retargeting to follow up with a relevant prompt to return, commerce businesses get another chance to convert and close the sale.

Inventory Management

What is it: Effective inventory management involves knowing exactly what products are available for sale, when more are coming in, what has already been sold and much more. This data is used to inform marketing and promotions and is an essential part of sales, customer support and other operations. 

ai-blogpost-05How AI is used in eCommerce: AI-powered systems are capable of much deeper analysis than their human counterparts. Decisions can be made and recommendations offered that take into account dozens of factors, from on-site behavior to social media trends to general consumer preferences and much more.  The results offer advantages including:

  • Predictive purchasing - Inventory is purchased that is most likely to be sold in a timely manner, reducing holding and other costs
  • Optimized shipping - Efficiencies may be uncovered that reduce the time between when inventory arrives and when it’s shipped to fulfill a sale
  • Targeted promotions - Because of the enhanced insights into inventory levels, AI can suggest promotions to get products off shelves quickly
  • Streamlined storage - Robots and other assistants are becoming more common in retail warehouses, with AI identifying opportunities to change storage patterns to best match shipping and sales logistics

Using AI for inventory management can result in significant cost savings and other efficiencies. That can result in increased sales, greater customer satisfaction, reduced storage costs and more benefits that aid in the long-term health of your business.

Email Marketing

What is it: Retailers and other brand marketers use email marketing–the regular sending of relevant messages–to build and strengthen shopper and audience connections. Emails are sent on a defined schedule, in response to an action taken by a visitor or based on some other prompt. 

ai-blogpost-01How AI is used in eCommerce: Retail marketers have found email to be an incredibly effective tool for reaching shoppers. 47 percent of consumers say email is the best way for brands to reach them, well above traditional advertising, social media or other methods. Email marketing contributes significantly to revenues and has an impressive ROI.

AI has the potential to build on the lessons already learned from successful email marketing campaigns: 

  • Relevance - Messages are sent based on where in the customer journey someone is 
  • Personalized - The call to action and promotion are geared toward the individual, increasing the chances it generates the desired response
  • Timing - Recipients get messages at a time when they’re most likely to read and respond to them 
  • Targeting - Additional data can be used to further segment an existing list of email subscribers to fine-tune the message and timing 

All of this is achieved through the ability of AI to analyze behavior, demographics and other factors to make decisions.

Implementing AI in Your eCommerce Business

Getting started with using AI for your business involves simply defining what areas it can provide the most value for you. 

It’s not just the big technology companies that have begun offering AI solutions to clients. Many website builders, eCommerce platforms and other service providers now feature AI in an effort to aid retailers and marketers effectively reach customers and build connections in a variety of ways. 

AI isn’t meant to replace the humans already engaged in these kinds of activities. Instead, it compliments that work to increase the effectiveness of those humans and allow staff to focus on areas that can add additional value to the business. 

Don’t be left behind. Start exploring the benefits AI can bring to your business today.

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