As early as 2020, we have already predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) would revolutionise and dominate the business landscape, and rapidly change the digital marketing environment.
In a short span of time, AI has already proven itself a vital tool in the retail market, having a significant impact and is only expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years. Although we are still far off from the artificial intelligence we see in various science fiction movies and TV series, today’s AI can help deliver an optimised customer experience.
AI has been making a lot of waves in the creative field, such as writing, designing, website building, managing social media, providing virtual assistance, and more. It is now focusing on your shopping cart. While it is still in its infancy, and learning exponentially, it will eventually become an integral part of the entire shopping journey.
At Accentuate Web Design and Marketing, we pride ourselves being experts at every aspect of digital marketing strategies to help your business. With the advent of AI, we understand its potential and leverage and are keeping a keen eye on advancements in the field.
Every business is different, as such, we believe strongly in personalised marketing. We achieve this by working closely with our clients to fully understand their specific needs and help them in meeting their goals with efficiency.
Whether it’s incorporating an AI-powered chatbot, optimising product recommendations, or analysing customer data for actionable insights, we tailor our approach to maximise impact in your digital marketing efforts.
By utilising state-of-the-art technologies, now including AI, we can acquire data insights, further streamline processes, and improve targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience.
AI can help consumers find products they might want, based on data about their browsing and shopping habits. It can introduce them to products and categories they may not know they want; and make sure they get the right match by using a trial run.
The latest AI technology, possibly the most transformative, could be both beneficial and disadvantageous to a customer. Let’s explore this further and see how your business can improve its operations, and perhaps generate more sales.
The Benefits of using AI for E-Commerce Businesses.
AI has already changed many aspects of the classic professional roles in e-commerce, such as replacing mundane tasks that digital teams carry out daily. Do keep in mind that as of its current development, AI can only steal the show and shine if used for any well-defined task not requiring human creativity.
Personalised Customer Experience.
AI and machine learning takes important insights from generated customer data. In e-commerce content marketing, personalisation is at the core of AI.
For example, there are AI-enabled tools you can use to analyse customer data coming from multiple touchpoints. AI has revolutionised personalised product recommendations, specialised search results, and more.
The way we purchase online is changing because of this exponentially growing trend, which at the same time is giving businesses new opportunities to connect with their customers. Personalisation is significant since today’s consumers now demand online experiences that are at par or perhaps an even better experience from those of physical stores.
Machine learning and AI can assist brands in goods and services customisation to suit specific requirements and preferences of each client, and make every purchasing transaction as relevant and as enjoyable. The reality in today’s retail environment is that a personalised shopping experience is critical to customer engagement, retention and loyalty.
The advantage of AI over conventional personalisation is that it is capable of analysing vast amounts of data and spotting patterns that humans might miss. AI can help brands tailor their website content to each customer, increasing conversion rates.
AI Powered Chatbots and Virtual Assistants.
The e-commerce arena has been swept by chatbots, and they show no signs of slowing down. With the assistance of chatbots, customers can get quick answers to their questions and receive tips and information about shopping.
Online shopping has been made easier with the help of chatbots, it’s like having your 24/7 shopkeeper that helps customers find what they want. Newer generation of AI chatbots with the combination of AI driven voice assistants are so advanced they would be able to understand customers’ queries, almost at par with human sales associates.
The technology is bridging the gap between physical and online shopping that boosts the scalability of an e-commerce site worldwide. Familiarity with applications like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant, makes it comfortable for people to interact with AI in e-commerce too.
Saving time and manpower on these tasks will result in higher profit margins and lower product costs for the customer, giving your business a competitive advantage. Thus, automation is one of the key benefits of AI in e-commerce.
Streamlined Operations and Fraud Detection.
Routine tasks can be automated by AI solutions, such as your supply chain management and customer service processes. This can significantly reduce costs with the added benefit of improving efficiency.
These operational improvements help in freeing up time and resources for your business, giving you more time to focus on growth and innovation. Besides, an AI can help you solve problems faster and more efficiently than humans can, thereby reducing downtimes and improving productivity.
By analysing customer behaviour, AI is capable of detecting and preventing suspected fraudulent activities. It can do this by recognising patterns that might indicate suspicious activity, such as but not limited to unusual purchase patterns or login locations.
With AI in place, you will be able to protect your e-commerce business’ revenue and reputation without sacrificing precious time and resources.
AI Enabled Inventory Management.
The key to effective inventory management is to maintain a level of inventory that’s sufficient to meet market demand without creating idle stock. Apart from identifying possible fraud, the use of AI can also significantly improve inventory management by analysing customer behaviour and historical data. It is possible to process higher volumes of complex data using AI algorithms, which can be used to analyse that data with consistent results.
To cite a solid example, AI can predict which products will most likely be popular in the future. You can then optimise your inventory and avoid overstocking or having stock outs, which may result in customer dissatisfaction, which can most likely lead to lost sales.
Any successful e-commerce strategy needs content creation to be successful. The process includes visual and/or written content for product descriptions and images, social media and blog posts, aimed to help you educate and persuade potential customers.
The Downside of using AI for E-Commerce Businesses.
With some of the more potent advantages listed above, it may seem like a no-brainer to have AI adopted for your business immediately. But no system is perfect, and it would be prudent to carefully consider the disadvantages of making such a drastic change just for the sake of implementing it.
Adopting AI has its myriad of benefits, but there are also disadvantages, such as:
The most obvious and perhaps the biggest drawback of implementing AI for your e-commerce business is the cost of its development. Depending on the complexity of what you exactly want and need it to do, the cost changes considerably.
Of course, the cost will eventually balance out down the line once the AI is put in place, fully implemented and already helping you streamline your workflow. However, we won’t lie in saying the up-front cost can be quite intimidating, if not prohibitive, especially for small business owners with limited capital.
Lack of Creativity, Personality, Human Emotion, and Human Interaction.
AI, even with its advanced machine learning capability, lacks the human ability to convey emotion, demonstrate original creativity, or even display personality. It is also devoid of important human features such as ethics and morality, which can be difficult to incorporate into AI.
Its lack of coming up with creative solutions means AI won’t be capable of creating new solutions or excel in any overly artistic field. In its present stage of development, it can be programmed to create “novel” ideas, but incapable of creating original ones.
Though it may simulate a person to provide a personalised customer experience, there would still be clients who would prefer human interaction. At some level, AI-powered chatbots fail to offer the level of support and empathy as a human customer service representative (CSR), which may cause customer frustration and dissatisfaction.
Human intervention is needed to strike a balance between AI and human interaction for e-commerce businesses to avoid customer dissatisfaction. Maintaining a good reputation and providing a positive customer experience is the only way to ensure your business maintains a good reputation with your customers.
Privacy and Security Concerns.
To function effectively, AI requires access to large amounts of data to function effectively. There are customers who may be uncomfortable with the thought about the amount of personal data that needs to be collected and analysed.
Another downside of AI systems is that they are vulnerable to cyberattacks and hacking. To subvert such online attacks and hacking, e-commerce using AI must ensure their systems are equipped with robust encryption credentials to protect collected data.
To address privacy concerns, it is necessary for e-commerce companies, regardless if they use AI or not, to be transparent about their data collection practices. They have to clarify how and where the collected data are to be used, and more importantly, ensure that collected customer data will be secure and protected.
This practice would require continuous monitoring and a substantial investment in security measures.
Tips for Using AI for Online Shopping.
There is no turning back in the reality that AI is rapidly embedding itself into all aspects of our lives. From self-checkout cash registers, your refrigerator telling you that you’re low on eggs and milk, to advanced security at airports; artificial intelligence is just about everywhere.
At this point in time, if you search about AI online, you will be presented with a deluge of hundreds of articles that predict a marketplace where it is dominated by the use of AI.
A number of AI-based shopping experiences are being used in e-commerce, including chatbots, personalised recommendations, predictive analytics, image recognition, and augmented reality. As a result, these technologies enhance customer service, increase sales, and make shopping easier, faster, and more enjoyable.
AI can provide a wide range of applications advantageous for online shopping, interact with customers, and enhance the overall shopping experience. Here are some tips you can leverage AI for online shopping:
1. Personalised Product Recommendations.
With its ability to analyse voluminous customer data, which includes their buying patterns, browsing history, and personal preferences, you can have your AI provide personalised product recommendations. You can have your AI suggest relevant products that a specific customer might like, which increases the likelihood of them converting, closing the sale, and more importantly leaving the customer happy and satisfied going through the entire process.
2. Use Chatbots.
Chatbots are now a staple in online shopping. It can handle simple customer enquiries, provide order status updates, and/or offer assistance in the event of return requests or refunds. A big advantage is that chatbots operate 24/7 to provide responses promptly.
3. Virtual Shopping Assistants.
AI-powered virtual assistants can engage your customers in real-time and guide them through the shopping process. By using natural language processing tied with advanced machine learning, it simulates the experience of interacting with a knowledgeable salesperson.
4. Image Recognition and Visual Search.
Image recognition is really nothing new. It has a long history going back all the way to 1956. However, we are now in the age where its practical and commercial use has come into its own. With AI’s learned data set, it allows AI to “see” and interpret what is present in the visual media.
By analysing visual cues such as shapes, patterns, and colours, it can now do a visual search by identifying matching or similar products in real-time. Users can now use images from their camera or smart devices to search for similar items or products, enhancing the convenience of doing a product search and eliminating the reliance on text-based search.
5. Voice-Activated Shopping.
If you’re already familiar with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, you already probably know that you can ask them to do a myriad of things for you such as play music, answer questions, look for that oatmeal cookie recipe. Even better, users can now also do voice-activated shopping.
Voice assistants powered with AI’s natural language processing capabilities allow it to understand and accurately respond to commands and requests to provide a convenient and seamless shopping experience.
It’s as close as speaking with someone to get us something without actually having someone physically.
6. Inventory and Supply Chain Management and Optimisation.
AI can analyse your historical sales data, follow market trends and other external factors to be able to accurately forecast demand with accuracy. With this capability, you will then be able to optimise your inventory levels. With AI algorithms at your disposal, you can streamline your chain processes, fulfil orders, and enhance overall efficiency.
7. Price Optimisation.
Using algorithms, e-commerce businesses can analyse your competitors’ pricing and customer behaviour to help you optimise your pricing strategies. Keeping up with market trends and maximising revenue can help you remain competitive.
Maximising AI’s Potential for Your Business.
To fully maximise AI’s potential in driving online shopping success, there are strategies you have to put in place to help you succeed:
Define your objectives clearly – You have to determine your goals and objectives clearly and be specific where you can use AI to add value in areas such as customer service, personalisation, or inventory management. Aligning AI initiatives with your business strategy.
Invest in Data Analytics – For AI to be effective, we already mentioned above that it needs lots of data to process. As such, that amount of data needs robust data analytics tools to collect, analyse, and organise all that customer data to drive data-driven decisions and personalised experiences.
Start Small and Scale Up as Needed – To ensure a smooth integration process, it would be prudent to implement AI in stages. Commence by implementing specific use cases where you deem it will have an immediate impact, such as chatbots and/or product recommendations. Once you gain the experience and confidence with your AI, you can then expand its applications to other areas of your AI shopping ecosystem.
Evaluate and Refine Regularly – Similar to always keeping tabs and refining your business strategy, the incorporation of AI must be a part of your evaluation and refining process to optimise it to your advantage. This approach ensures that you give your AI solutions time to evolve with the needs of your customers and for it to deliver optimal results.
Ensure Data Security and Privacy – As we have mentioned earlier, artificial intelligence relies heavily on large amounts of data for it to be effective. Particularly, when used in eCommerce, customer data is a prime commodity for a lot of industries, especially online.
This makes it paramount to ensure data and privacy security measures to protect this information from breaches. Ensure that these data are protected and encrypted. It is also good practice to audit your systems regularly to ensure your data security measures are intact to maintain your customer’s trust.
Mitigate Bias in AI Algorithms – AI learns by ingestion of large amounts of data. An AI trained with supervision makes decisions using datasets it has never encountered before. Make it a conscious effort to mitigate bias in AI systems, for it to produce results with fair treatment and inclusivity. Do keep in mind the garbage in, garbage out principle, the AI’s ability to make quality decisions can only be as good as the data you want it to “learn.”
Pay Attention to AI Trends – AI is a rapidly evolving field. Its fast evolution would require you to keep track of AI trends, new technologies, and best use practices to stay ahead of the curve. By staying informed, you can leverage new innovations to stay on top of the online shopping landscape.
The Bottom Line.
Artificial Intelligence for sure has created massive impact on how we live our lives today. Above, you’ve learned the most important aspects of its advantages and disadvantages when used particularly in eCommerce business, and how you can best leverage it to help your online shop succeed.
Although there are still ongoing debate with its pros and cons, its impact on today’s global industries is remarkable. Its phenomenal growth and development, even at its infancy stage, is driving business sustainability.
You can use these tips when implementing AI-driven online shopping strategies to enhance personalisation, improve customer service, optimise inventory management, and achieve remarkable results. Deliver exceptional shopping experiences with AI and leave a lasting impression on your customers.
You must balance technological advancements with a customer-centric approach to successfully implement AI. You should ensure that AI enhances your online shopping experience rather than replacing genuine human interaction. When AI is used effectively, it can enhance the online shopping experience and drive customer loyalty, business growth, and customer satisfaction to new heights.
Let Accentuate Web Design and Marketing help you improve your online shopping experience by booking a digital marketing session with our expert team, today! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to revolutionise your business – schedule your session now!