AI is revolutionizing so many aspects of our lives. From the way we operate appliances in our homes to the way that children play with toys. AI is also starting to have a significant effect on the way e-commerce businesses attract and retain customers.
AI is changing the world of e-commerce
In fact, a survey by Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of a client’s relationship with a business will be managed without interacting with any human. For a better understanding of how AI is shifting e-commerce, check out the five applications below.
1. Visual search
In the past, most customers have used a text-based search in a search field to look for an object the want to purchase. Today, however, e-commerce businesses are taking advantage of visual search – a technology that uses AI to analyze a photo that a shopper submits, then find products that match that image.
One e-commerce company who is dominating visual search is Neiman Marcus. The company uses visual search technology to allow app users to take photos of objects in the real world, then locate similar ones in the Neiman Marcus catalog.
2. Voice Search
In addition to using images to search for products they want to buy, shoppers are now adopting voice search. It is the ability to search for items using speech. Voice search uses AI to understand what is spoken and to get better at recognizing voices and phrases.
Voice search was popularized with voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, which has made it necessary for e-commerce retailers to re-optimize their pages so they can handle voice-based searches (which are often delivered in more sensical, structure-based form, rather than in keyword form). A study by comScore predicts that by 2020, at least 50% of all web searches will be conducted by voice.
Amazon’s voice-controlled home automation speaker, Echo, now allows users to make online purchases using voice search technology. Shoppers who have a device integrated with its Alexa technology can make orders using spoken commands.
3. Online personal shoppers
Personal shoppers are no longer just a luxury service for high-end consumers. Today, thanks to AI, consumers can take advantage of virtual ones online. Online companies can leverage AI technology to recommend and curate items a shopper would like, without having to do any of the work themselves. There are several online personal shopper technologies, including Shoptagr and Mona. These bots use big data, collected in real time, to “learn” users’ shopping habits and personal taste. The North Face is one online retailer harnessing the power of virtual personal shoppers. With the help of IBM Watson, the company is using AI to recommend the perfect jacket to people searching for one.
4. Machine learning for better search results
At least 30% of online shoppers will use an e-commerce retailer’s search function. For that reason, getting search results just right can pay off big for retailers – which is where AI comes in.
Retailers are now turning to machine learning to improve results for consumers who use search. Machine learning can improve search results each time a user shops on a site. It can also generate a search ranking, which allows the site to sort search results by relevance, instead of keyword matching. One company that uses machine learning to offer better search results is eBay. With millions of items listed, eBay harnesses the power of AI and data to predict and display the most relevant search results.
5. Artificial neural networks for campaign optimization
Artificial neural networks are a type of AI that tries to recreate how the human brain works. It’s the science behind things like Tesla’s self-driving cars.
Neural networks isn’t just for complex machinery like self-driving vehicles. Online companies will soon be able to use neural networks to take the data they receive based on ad performance, then actually understand why those ads aren’t working.
Because neural networks can learn from experience, recognize patterns and predict trends, they can tell what tactics people responded to in a marketing campaign, and what should be scrapped and re-thought. One company that tried using BrainMaker, a neural network software to maximize returns on a marketing campaign, was Microsoft. They were able to increase direct mailing open rate from 4.9% to 8.2%.
AI is becoming more and more sophisticated by the day. And e-commerce businesses are now able to harness that power to improve consumers’ shopping experience.
AI technologies will continue to offer customers better services, products, and personalized experiences. They will also maximize a company’s marketing efforts while minimizing the need to spend money on ineffective ad campaigns or extraneous staff.