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Without any doubt, artificial intelligence is already altering the way we live. It has an impact on many things, including the course of our decision-making processes, search habits, communication, and numerous other aspects. Yet what should the field of eCommerce be on the lookout for?
Because most online retail business owners wish for their store to return profitable results, they pay attention to how good the products are, the pricing policy, the convenience of using the site, as well as how fast it is. These are among the main reasons explaining the need for constant innovation, new features, and the optimization of the website in order for it to stay competitive. This is also exactly why building a progressive web application has recently become a trend, not to mention the rise in demand for AI technology to be implemented within the site.
On this page, we’d like to introduce you to the ways artificial intelligence has left its trace in eCommerce, how this modern technology can be used to your benefit, as well as give you examples of its use on the online stores of renowned brands.
8 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Already Influencing eCommerce
There are many ways AI can be applied to online sales. Let’s go over the main 8 that can advantageously affect eCommerce stores.
1. Audience Research & Analytics to the Bone
Among the first strengths of AI is its ability to process and analyze big data. This is especially relevant for the field of eCommerce and sales in general as it can help you find out many crucial things about your audience.
Such research results can bring you many useful insights. For example, you can discover entire new segments of buyers, single out their preferences, make note of various trends, buying behaviors and habits, as well as get a dozen other valuable hints that you can use to make conclusions, implement required changes, and thus grow your store.
2. Cross-Selling Pitches
An outstanding thing that artificial intelligence is good at is making smart product selections for your upselling sections. This allows you to move from random guesses (or simply cross-selling things from the same product line) over to a system in which your buyers are offered those items that actually go well with what is being browsed.
In this case, AI analyzes which product pairs are actually commonly purchased together by other customers. Especially, if these customers share common tastes with this specific user. AI gathers such data, analyzes earlier buys, site browsing history, and other various incoming data to then group clients based on their tastes, and makes more to-the-point pitches.
Case in point, this is a product page of joggers on the official Reebok website. As you can see, the “Complete the Look” section doesn’t just suggest getting a matching hoodie or sweatshirt from the same collection, instead, the block is fitted with a T-shirt, jogging shoes, and matching socks. When assembled in this manner, there’s a higher chance that these extra items will make it to the user’s cart. And let’s admit it, if your eCommerce store has hundreds of items on sale, it’ll be very tricky to make such selections for each of them manually, so let AI handle the matter based on actual data, not just assumptions.
Screenshot taken on the official Reebok website
3. Personalized Selections of Products
Artificial intelligence works in a similar way with personal product picks too. Instead of sticking to the one-fits-all approach, ideally, items should be selected to fit the specific tastes of each individual client.
Consider such sections of a page as what you as a shopping assistant or sales representative would recommend to your clients. Would you be suggesting the very same things to them all if you were selling your products physically in a store and not online? Probably, not.
This is exactly why it makes sense to implement AI that can study the person’s preferences and make such pitches more accurately. Again, this can boost your chances of selling more.
Take a look at the product page screenshot on the official Gucci website. The “You May Also Like” selects those items that the potential customer might find to their liking. Such a “move” is wiser than a block just stating “Brand XYZ Recommends”.
Screenshot taken on the official Gucci website
4. Helpful Chatbots
Speaking of shopping managers, their role is just as important in online retail as it is in regular stores. Of course, experienced human assistants and customer service managers can handle many more requests than a bot can. But the most outstanding thing about having an AI chatbot on your eCommerce website is that it isn’t bound by regular human working hours, instead, it’s capable of assisting your buyers any time of the day.
The artificial intelligence bot generally runs on a script basis, meaning that it can learn. On your side, as a store owner, you can save a lot of time on working out commonly occurring issues, since the chatbot can reply to often asked questions and be helpful and many other ways.
Your chatbot will reply as a human would but within seconds, reducing waiting time and making your customers ultimately happier if they get answers to their questions practically immediately.
Here’s the Digital Assistant on the official Tommy Hilfiger website, to give you an example. The bot introduces itself upon the launch of the pop-up chat window and offers to select a category of the request. Plus, the user can type in their message and have a conversation with the chatbot.
Screenshot taken on the official Tommy Hilfiger website
5. The Rise of Voice Search
Artificial intelligence is also changing the game when it comes to how people search for things on the internet. Various AI-powered assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa devices or even Apple’s Siri are becoming more and more habitual in the everyday lives of people.
What should you know regarding this as an eCommerce business owner? Well, that your customer’s product search behavior is changing.
Let’s put it this way: the way people type in their search requests using text in their browser or within your site’s search bar and how they’d request Siri for the same thing will have very different phrasing and word count. The message in the second case will sound like a full-sentence request, whereas the text will be narrowed down to a minimal number of words.
For instance, if I were looking for a purple blazer, I’d type in something like “purple flannel blazer buy online”. If I’d ask my voice assistant to handle the question, my request would sound something like: “Alexa, could you kindly find me a purple size L flannel blazer under 70 dollars with free shipping?”
Screenshot taken on Google
See the difference? This means that your online store should think more about the nature of oral search requests and how to optimize your store to fit them. Yes, this will require a big chunk of work for your SEO specialist.
6. Image Recognition Search Features
It follows from the above that apart from voice recognition in shopping, other new and non-standard search trends are escalating too. One of such artificial-intelligence driven ones deal with image search.
In essence, it all goes down to giving your user the opportunity to upload a picture. Say, I came across a nice sweater that I saw someone wearing and that I’d like to have too. I’d take a picture of it or make a screenshot, then upload it to the eCommerce site, and let AI find similar items.
An example of this is Amazon StyleSnap. This AI feature is really neat as it allows your buyers to save a lot of unnecessary time looking for the thing that they want. By giving them fast results, you improve the likelihood of making the sale.
Screenshot taken on the official Amazon website
7. “Try It On” Functionality
One more marvelous way you can use artificial intelligence coupled with augmented reality to your convenience is virtual try-on. This amazing feature is a real hit for numerous spheres of online retail, notably if the niche regards accessories, footwear, cosmetics, etc.
By empowering such a feature on the site that lets your buyers see how this or that browsed product or its variations will look on them, can brush aside many doubts and boost your sales. It all happens in real-time if the person switches on their camera or it can happen via uploading a picture from the device.
In any case, as a store owner, you, therefore, don’t have to spend a lot on testers that make up a large portion of your budget on expendable materials. And you help your prospects become more sure that his item that’s ordered online is a good choice.
Let’s quickly overview how this works on the example of the MAC Cosmetics website. This feature allows to virtually put on shades of the lipstick. There are three options here: live camera, photo upload, or on a model that has similar visual facial features.
Screenshot taken on the official MAC Cosmetics website
8. Predict the Trends
Lastly, as it was briefly mentioned earlier, artificial intelligence can help you understand where the market is moving and the rising trends. When you have such information at your convenience, you can make better business decisions regarding which direction you should take and where to move towards.
By making more accurate predictions, you can avoid losing invested money on ideas that might not turn out well. Likewise, you’ll have clearer ideas of what your specific audience craves, and, therefore, can improve your whole work process from taking the products themselves to the next level to guessing what will be “a hit” and sell like hot pies.
Innovation is surely a matter that needs consideration, precisely in the competitive and quickly changing world of eCommerce. By getting ahold of the capabilities of artificial intelligence and incorporating such modern technology into your store, you’ll surely raise your possibilities to outrank your competitors, increase your sales, and be in step with time.
Alex Husar, Chief Technology Officer at Onilab with 8+ years of experience in progressive web application development, Magento migration, and Salesforce development. He graduated from the Czech Technical University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Computer Software Engineering. Alex’s expertise includes both full-stack dev skills and a strong ability to provide project-critical guidance to the whole team.