Jun 3, 2017

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Artificial intelligence is everywhere. It’s on Facebook guiding the top stories you see, in your pocket helping Siri help you, everywhere. What’s most interesting about AI is the many uses and applications it has, especially in the data-rich retail and ecommerce industries.

AI for an Ecommerce Business

Artificial intelligence trends show us that it (AI) has completely transformed the way we shop. It understands our preferences and personalizes options for us, answers complex questions that help us on our purchase journey, and as Michelle Peluso, CMO at IBM, says, “what I think is most exciting for marketers is the opportunity to use AI to improve CX (consumer experience). AI empowers marketers to not just use readily available data, but to put dark data to use for the first time.”
Going deeper into what Peluso meant, she gave four examples of how AI is enhancing the consumer and retail experience:

1: AI Powered Gift Selection

Peluso used 1800-Flowers.com’s GWYN (Gifts When You Need) AI powered gift concierge service as an example of a brand making use of AI to improve their customer’s experience. In essence, it acts as a personal assistant that learns from your actions. It asks you questions, and the more you answer, the more it knows and can use to help you.
For example, imagine you’re buying a gift from an AI powered site for a significant other. You’re unsure of what you want, so you decide to use their gift selector option. It asks about your relationship with the person you’re buying a gift for, their gender, their age, their preferences, etc. Once you finish answering, you’re presented with a couple of gift options that you can like or dislike to further personalize suggestions.

2: AI Powered Product Selector

A perfect example for artificial intelligence, the North Face is a brand with a mission to apply technology to transform the retail experience. Peluso explains that they launched an interactive online experience powered by IBM’s Watson that uses natural language processing to help consumers discover and refine product selections. Similar to the previous point of answering questions to tailor suggestions, the North Face’s AI feature asks you questions about apparel type, location, gender, temperature, etc., to deliver personalized recommendations.

3: AI Powered Out of Stock Management

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Peluso notes that a key challenge for retailers is managing their inventory levels, as being out of stock leads to unhappy customers who take their business elsewhere, and too much stock leads to wasted money that could have been invested somewhere else. Essentially, you need to understand consumer demand and act accordingly.
Well, one of Watson’s features is helping retailers monitor everything from weather conditions to purchase rates and consumer behavior to better manage supplies. This feature is perfect for accounting for factors that would otherwise be detrimental for a business.

4: AI Powered Consumer Insights

The last example we’ll cover today is one of the most useful uses for AI in a retail or eCommerce business: consumer insights. By analyzing everything from social profiles and behavior to the weather and the season, AI helps marketers understand what consumers want and need. In other words, AI can monitor someone’s word choice, their online clicking, and even their tone, to learn more about them and what possible actions they’ll take.

Conclusion and Other Uses for AI in an Ecommerce Business

Before we wrap up, let’s look at another use for AI in retail and eCommerce: picture matching. Deep learning and similar technologies allow consumers to capture an image of something they like and then match it with similar images online. In retail and eCommerce, this can be used for practically anything. For example, you’re walking down the street and see a display with a shirt you really like. The price is higher than you’d like, so you take a picture and find similar styles at cheaper prices.
Artificial intelligence trends are quickly taking over and guiding our shopping behavior. For consumers, they provide recommendations and suggestions, help them find what they’re looking for with a single image, and a lot more. For retailers, they help them manage their stock and provide consumer insights to better provide products and services to their customers.
Whether you’re a consumer, a retailer or both, it’s best to keep an eye out for artificial intelligence and what it entails.


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