Re-imagining eCommerce In The Age Of AI

In the early days of eCommerce, it was hard work convincing people to buy into the service. The idea of entering credit/debit card details to make purchase online was always looked at with suspicion. Fast forward to 2017, retail e-commerce sales globally amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021.

That’s an astonishing pace of growth. It can be argued that this pace is quite disproportionate i.e. people in many parts of the world are still reluctant to embrace eCommerce, while others have totally gone online for most of their purchasing needs. That may all even out in the long run. But for a lot of people, one of the most fascinating things about eCommerce is how subtly it’s turned buying stuff, that only few years ago would have sounded ridiculous, into a norm. Just look at people ordering everything from groceries to baby diapers online.

But just as you’d been thinking how eCommerce has proved it critics wrong, there’s another technology that’s on the verge of making a major impact on the world – Artificial Intelligence. AI also has its fair share of critics but just like every great invention, it looks set to disprove those doubts.

AI was first tested by the inimitable Apple in the form of the first ever digital personal assistant – Siri. Before long, iPhone users were going berserk with making ‘Hey Siri’ voice commands to perform various touchless operations on their smartphones. It has definitely made huge progress since that time. The estimate that – by 2020 almost 80% of all customer interactions will be managed by non-humans or put simply AI, goes on to solidify that fact.

But, since we’re on the topic of eCommerce it’s worth asking if AI has a place in the eCommerce domain? Moreover, what kind of role can it play in this industry? Find out the answers in this blog:

1. Drop In The Bounce Rate & Increased Customer Conversion

Drop In The Bounce Rate & Increased Customer Conversion

As of now, eCommerce sites have sought the help of chatbots to take the customer queries. But the thing with chatbots is that they just don’t cut it for most users. Chatbots can come in handy to look up solutions to the most basic queries, but when it comes to complex situations a human on the line is considered to be most desirable option.

On the whole, chatbots are seen as robots. So non-human communication seems to be a fail doesn’t it? Not quite. The answer lies in AI. It’s easy to confuse the two, but Chatbots aren’t AI. Majority of chatbots work by matching words with a predefined database of answers. In short, they don’t write their own answers.

Apps like Mona may change that for good. With a more smarter integration of AI, Mona is tipped to become the world’s first ever personal mobile retail shopping assistant.

The vision of Mona is to bring to life a shopping experience that can be witnessed inside any store between a customer and a shopping assistant. Currently, Mona is capable of simplifying mobile search, discover and purchases. In the long-run, it’s likely to be able to take orders, return requests and so on.

There’s no doubt, that eCommerce will look towards Artificial Intelligence to build its personal assistants. Offering a human-like experience is the promise of AI and eCommerce is in definite need of that.


2. Revolutionising The Way Customers Search Products

Revolutionising The Way Customers Search Products

Pinterest back in 2015 made a real breakthrough with AI, in the form of visual search tool. This made it possible for users to search the platform using images instead of words.

What that means is that users can now click on an image on Pinterest, zero in on an object that they’d like to view more of and then search the website to get the results.

For example, you were looking at images of dining halls, and a samovar caught your eye. All you’d have to do is zoom in on the samovar, and hit search. Pinterest will search the site to find similar images of the samovar that caught your eye.

That really is the area that eCommerce is struggling to crack. Customers have great visual memory. They can describe a thing from a mental image of it. But may not always know what it’s called.

Bringing the functionality to visually search for products online would be a major breakthrough in eCommerce. Apps like CamFind are clear examples of the success that’s to be had with visual search technology.

3. Observe User-Habits & Utilise That To Maximise Sales

Observe User-Habits & Utilise That To Maximise Sales

AmazonGo is a futuristic technology that will allow customers to shop in a physical store, without having to go through long-checkout lines. Amazon calls it ‘Just Walk Out’ Shopping experience.

How it will work is very simple. The user will download the AmazonGo app, customers will simply walk into one of Amazon’s physical stores, pick up whatever they want from the shelves and simply walk out of the store. Upon leaving the store, the customer will receive an online receipt, the deduction for which will be made from their Amazon account.

As well as offering an innovative checkout experience, this mighty impressive technology will allow Amazon to stay on top of their customers’ buying habits, the knowledge of which will enable them to guess their future buying decision. That way Amazon will be able to offer targeted products that are likely to interest their customers.

If AmazonGo proves to be a success, then it will mark a huge watershed moment in the success of AI as a revolutionary technology.

Final Thoughts

How AI plays out its part in the eCommerce sphere will start to become evident sometime in the next decade. One thing that we can safely admit is that it will change our daily habits and lifestyle.

A great example of that can be found in Apple’s new fascination – Son of Siri. They’re hoping by using super-intelligent technology, Son of Siri will allow people to hail Uber rides, order Pizza or even book a flight somewhere.

The insight into the customer’s habits and behaviour is really crucial for the success of business. AI looks certain to make that a possibility. Brands that are quick to embrace AI in the near future are more than likely to gain an edge against their competition.

August 16, 2018



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