6 Ways AI Can Benefit eCommerce Businesses
Once only a crazy plot device in science-fiction, Artificial Intelligence technology is an inseparable part of daily operations for any business today. AI represents the algorithms observing and learning from human behaviour to discover behavioural patterns for the online retail industry.
Today, AI is used in the online retail industry to increase conversion by optimising the shopping experience. Intelligent algorithms gather the data on customer behaviour, which are used to develop better and more profitable business strategies.
This article explains the six ways AI can help boost your eCommerce business, including virtual assistants and voice commerce, eCommerce personalisation, searchandising, eCommerce automation, retargeting potential customers, and creating an efficient sales process with CRM.
Virtual Assistants and Voice Commerce
eCommerce virtual assistants are bots that use machine learning and language processing technologies to understand the user queries and provide the necessary support accordingly. This is not a strange technology since, by now, we are all familiar with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
eCommerce businesses prefer virtual assistants because they are awake 24/7 and can handle simple customer inquiries without any trouble. Virtual assistants can do many things, from product research to inventory management. For customers, virtual assistants represent quick and easy access to information.
In reality, voice recognition technology is nothing new; it dates back to the 1960s. However, it is in recent years that voice commerce has seen significant growth. Voice commerce essentially is a technology that allows the users to make purchases or do searches using their voices. The users prefer voice commerce because of its convenience and speed since they do not have to spend time trying to type the correct words.
eCommerce Personalisation is the process of adapting the shopping experience according to the needs, pain points, tastes and preferences of the individual customers. In other words, it’s the practice of personalising the online shopping experience by actively and dynamically showing content (whether it be products, brands, or campaigns) to the customer based on their purchase history, click-throughs, browsing behaviour, etc.
Personalisation is a great tool to engage the customer, induce repeat purchases and increase conversion rates. And with more people switching to online shopping in the last couple of years due to COVID-19, creating personalised experiences are more important than ever.
Albeit of limited value, personalisation was already a part of the eCommerce industry even before AI became a significant part of the tech industry. Before AI-based practices became widespread, personalisation meant either pasting the customers’ names on bulk emails or using only the good old demographic segmentation. However, the times have changed. Technology at hand is certainly capable of achieving so much more. But perhaps more importantly, customers are expecting you to do more.
With the ever-increasing advances in AI and machine learning technologies, the rapidly growing world of eCommerce has been penetrating new deep levels of personalisation for quite some time. Computers now can crunch big bulks of data quickly, enabling real-time analytics and optimisation.
Think about it: eCommerce stores rely heavily on content. They have hundreds or thousands of products and even more visitors on a daily basis. So a machine (or an algorithm) can easily pick up the trends in customer behaviour by analysing the data on the spot—something that would take tremendous amounts of time were a group of people to do it by hand.
You can take advantage of customers’ inclination to impulse buying with personalised product recommendations. When at the checkout, try to upsell or cross-sell by recommending products based on customers’ preferences and actions. Or offer them discounts based on their preferred categories or brands. Boost average order value by making recommendations according to the most popular products or products purchased by other visitors with similar preferences.
Searchandising (Smart Search)
Most consumers head directly to the search box upon entering an eCommerce website. As a result, these consumers are more likely to convert than the ones simply browsing. The problem here is that they have to find what they are looking for. However, even if the search results are relevant to the keywords they’ve searched for, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the results are appealing. This is where AI can significantly help eCommerce —with Searchandising (or Smart Search).
Searchandising is the name of the practice that combines “search” and “merchandising”, which merges the online search practices with merchandising techniques. Searchandising is a way to utilise the established search techniques by bringing in advanced components such as navigation, faceted search, recommended product listings, autocomplete, relevant queries, recent searches, and more. eCommerce platforms have started seeing the value in adopting these innovative search solutions to utilise behavioural data and offer user-friendly, personalised, and profitable search experiences.
The online shops of today need to be available 24/7 and on multiple channels. Automating customer support can save time, energy, and operating capital for eCommerce businesses. Luckily, AI has once again proved that it could be of great assistance to businesses online. When it comes to automation, AI plays a vital role in helping eCommerce business owners. Parallel with the prosperity of the eCommerce business is an increase in the number of repetitive tasks. Automation is in charge and executes these repetitive tasks, simplifying workflows in the front- and back-end.
With AI, it is possible to automate everything from presenting new items on different channels to coordinating sales, implementing discounts to loyal customers, recognising high-risk transactions, and many more. In addition, transferring the burden of answering routine queries enables the eCommerce business owners to concentrate on more challenging requests.
Retargeting Potential Customers
Retargeting (or remarketing) is reminding the existence of your brand and its products to your target audience. The purpose of a retargeting strategy is to reach the users who’ve already engaged with your platform. These users might have already purchased from you in the past, or they might have abandoned the buyer’s journey at some point.
AI can help you identify the behavioural patterns of each user. And later, you can use this information to lure these users back to your store. One of the most effective retargeting strategies is using push notifications. Push notifications are brief and get to the point quickly, so there’s no danger of annoying the customers. Plus, you can use personalised push notifications with the help of the behavioural data you’ve collected and offer one-on-one communication.
Utilising AI in your retargeting campaigns is extremely useful and cost-effective since retargeting reduces the cost per impression. In addition to that, retargeting places your brand at the forefront of the consumers’ minds. So next time they need something, your name will be the first one that pops in their mind.
Efficient Sales Process with CRM
There are many efficient ways AI will boost your eCommerce sales. Integrating AI into your CRM is a perfect way to do that. With AI, you can alter your issue-solving alternatives and create a powerful sales message, and you can also attain more customers. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, many AI systems, such as Siri or Alexa, allow natural language learning and voice input. They enable a CRM system to respond to customer questions by answering questions or sorting any issue a customer may have, fixing their problems and even discovering new prospects. What’s more is that some AI-driven CRM systems can handle these functions simultaneously, which saves business owners energy and time, not to mention that an AI-driven CRM system increases conversion rates by increasing customer satisfaction.
AI and machine learning technologies have already changed eCommerce by a great deal, and they will continue to do so. AI makes it possible for an eCommerce business to analyse the big bulks of data it receives every second without breaking a sweat. As time goes on, the need for such technology in eCommerce will be even greater than it is now.