Artificial Intelligence has unleashed the power for e-commerce businesses to explore countless opportunities to dramatically improve customer experiences, generate new leads and better understand their customers. Businesses are continuing to evolve and are steadily incorporating Artificial Intelligence into their strategies – a prediction from Business Insider has suggested as much as 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by as soon as 2020. There are many innovative ways businesses are exploring the potential of AI – I’ve spent a little time researching the best uses so far.
With the advancement in Natural Language Processing, and a huge improvement in a machines ability to understand human language including words and text, the technology is there for retailers to explore Virtual Agents/Assistants. The two most well-known and obvious examples would be the Amazon Alexa + Echo – they have already begun to integrate and partner with SkyScanner for flights, Dominos for pizza delivery, JustEat for takeaway delivery and Uber to ask Alexa to request a taxi ride.
Through speech recognition, a machine-learning approach where the system is revised and teaches itself and NLP, Virtual Assistants learn about you, so the assistance it offers can only improve.
There’s also the potential for Virtual Assistants to be integrated into everyday household items, like LG implementing Alexa technology into their InstaView fridge (very cool idea and a personal favorite) – this has tremendous potential for ecommerce businesses to have a foothold right within the family home. Another example would be Mona (picture below) which is probably one of the most advanced personal shopping assistants and is specifically targeted at the retail industry.
The modern day demands of customers expecting lightning fast responses are difficult to fulfil – the advancements of AI allows for ecommerce businesses to integrate chatbots into their strategy.
A chatbot is an automated program that simulates conversations, answers customer queries and handles requests. From a retailer’s perspective, this improves the customer experience whilst reducing effort and cost.
Very.co.uk are early adopters of the chatbot technology in the retail sector, and have fully implemented the technology into their “My very” iOS app. Another great example of Chatbots being integrated into eCommerce organizations would be the TacoBot (image above!)
Recommendations for customers
With the advancements of deep learning and recommendation systems, it is now a whole lot easier for retailers to dig deeper into their user’s behaviour and purchase history. A company which launched recently, Propulse Analytics has looked to leverage features of product images to better grasp customers taste and assist with future recommendations – this is done through a method called collaborative filtering, by collecting preferences and taste information of the user and making automatic predictions. In the past this has worked a lot better for the larger companies, Amazon, Spotify and Netflix, as models tend to improve with data, but with companies like Propulse, they are beginning to target SME organizations.
Layer6.ai is another leading platform that digs a little deeper than just user behaviour and purchase history – this platform leverages data extremely quickly, accurately and reliably to figure out what the customer will want next. The global retailer H&M have combined their chatbot technology with a recommendation system – teaming up with KIK messenger to approach customers directly with products that they may look to buy.
Artificial Intelligence has unlocked the potential for ecommerce organizations to unlock the power of their data and offer an entirely new standard of customer service and improved customer experience. It has resulted in organizations being able to target customers with an increasingly personalized service, at a fraction of the effort and cost to what was previously considered the norm. We live in an age where attention spans are extremely short, and customers want an increasingly quick service, where a lot of the decisions can be made on their behalf.
The potential to treat each customer individually and provide them with high quality customer experience each time is the standard marketing and sales teams strive for, so artificial intelligence is here to stay and will be an integral part of the future of the retailing and ecommerce sector.