From warehouse stock control to easy website builders, technology has many applications in the ecommerce sector. However when you think of ecommerce and technology, AI may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
A common misconception of AI is that it is the reserve of big business, or only applicable to highly advanced technologies that are unobtainable for most businesses. On the contrary, AI has a range of uses and is already making things better in a range of sectors, from sports to agriculture. In the same way, AI already has a range of uses in the ecommerce sector, helping the businesses in this booming industry (predicted to reach US$4.88 trillion in revenue in 2021) to be more efficient, make more sales, and scale their businesses.
Here are the top applications for AI in the ecommerce sector that we’re seeing right now.
Chatbots are one of the most prevalent uses of AI in the ecommerce industry today. Ecommerce is a fundamentally consumer-driven sector, and area where chatbots are extremely valuable. This is because they allow businesses to provide a high level of customer service at a fraction of the cost of human-driven services.
Ecommerce is also generally extremely international, with many businesses having clients across the globe and across all time zones. Chatbots are an excellent solution for ecommerce vendors to be able to provide 24 hour customer service to their customers, wherever they’re located. Consumers also tend to shop online at all hours of the day or night: in fact, this is commonly the main advantage of online shopping cited by consumers.
2. Voice Assistants
2019 undoubtedly saw a huge upsurge in the use of voice assistants, and that trend is continuing through 2020. Consumers are discovering the advantages of searching for items and comparing products thanks to Alexa and Siri, rather than a traditional Google search.
This is good news for ecommerce businesses, because it makes it easier than ever for customers to find their products online, rather than going to a bricks-and-mortar store. What’s more, customers can now use voice assistants to go ahead to buy the product for them – the journey to locking in the sale has never been so easy!
This represents a great opportunity for ecommerce businesses, but at the same time presents an additional challenge. The rise of voice technology means that these businesses need to make sure that their websites and listings are optimised for voice, in order to be competitive and capture these customers.
3. Refining Processes Through Data
Just like in other businesses, data is an incredibly useful tool for online stores and ecommerce sellers. Using AI-based tools to analyse their customer data, sales history, website performance and more can help businesses to see what is working well, what their weaknesses are, and refine their processes.
Ecommerce businesses are in a particularly good position to do this, as they automatically collect a great deal of information about their customers as part of their normal operations. These businesses naturally have all kinds of information about their clients, such as their address, purchase history, and often demographic information, which is a wealth of data to be analysed.
4. Create Customer-Centric Centric Search
Search is central to the ecommerce businesses: whether through searching on Google or on an online marketplace, the vast majority of online shoppers find products through a search of some kind. AI is helping to make these searches more effective by refining search technology so it is more in line with how consumers think, giving consumers the results they’re looking for, and making them more likely to make a purchase.
Ranking in search results is important for all ecommerce businesses, but particularly businesses selling on the hyper-competitive platform Amazon. Ranking on Amazon is critical in order to drive sales for Amazon sellers, and there are a range of technologies they can use to do this: see this Amazon optimization guide for more.
5. Retargeting Potential Customers
Another very beneficial application of AI for ecommerce businesses is tools that help online stores to retarget potential customers. Lost leads represent a huge loss of potential business for ecommerce companies. Many potential visitors browse product listings before clicking away, and even more abandon their shopping cart, not making the final purchase.
AI is helping ecommerce businesses to identify and retarget these lost leads and potential customers. This is a goldmine of information that companies can use to recapture those sales and significant add to their profits. In the same way, AI is also helping businesses to provide better post-sales support, improving return customer rates, which is a huge source of revenue for ecommerce businesses.