One of the hottest topics in business right now is artificial intelligence (AI). What is it and how do we use it to achieve business goals? The answer to these questions really depends on who you ask. At the most general level, AI is simply about teaching computers to think like a human. Now, we’re not talking about self-aware robots that want to take over the world (looking at you Skynet). That’s the stuff movies and fiction is made of…at least for now.
What we’re talking about is teaching computers to learn how to do human tasks in a business setting—analyze sales for trends, monitor processes, transport goods across a warehouse from point A to point B. These are all things humans can do, sure, but thanks to AI, humans can pass off tasks that used to take hours (or longer) as well tasks that were monotonous.
It sounds simple on the surface, but the truth is that AI is on the cusp of revolutionizing every aspect of the way e-commerce businesses work. Market intelligence firm IDC predicts that worldwide spending on “cognitive and artificial intelligence systems” will top $19 billion this coming year, a remarkable increase of more than 50 percent. Ignoring this shift will likely result in businesses falling far behind competitors who don’t, which can certainly threaten any business’ long-term viability.
So, what are e-commerce firms using AI for these days? Interestingly, AI can be applied across nearly every aspect of e-commerce operations. Let’s take a look at a few of examples.
If you look at the history of e-commerce, it’s a story about offering increasingly personalized information to buyers at just the right time. Amazon’s “Customers who bought X also bought Y,” is a good but rudimentary example of this. It turns out that the more personalized experience provided, the more likely it is that the person will buy something. AI can be used to identify what your customers want, when they’re most likely to want it, and even what price they are willing to pay for it, and then deliver that with a level of precision that, frankly, humans were not entirely capable of doing. What’s more, that experience can follow the buyer across devices, ensuring a consistent experience.
This is a big one. AI can identify patterns in behavior more efficiently than humans, making fraud prevention a top area for development and deployment in E-commerce firms. Chief among the priorities for a fraud prevention AI is to identify potentially fraudulent transactions, but that’s not their only use. They can be used to identify potentially fake products (important for e-commerce firms who host third-party sellers) as well as fake reviews.
Chatbots, fueled by AI systems that can handle natural language inquiries, are one of the hottest topics of interest to online merchants. Chatbots are automated customer service chats that open on a web browser, or they can even be developed to provide automated customer service on platforms like Twitter or Facebook. They allow customers to ask routine questions and the system responds with relevant information. This can be used for checking orders, asking questions about products, finding out return policies and procedures, and pretty much any topic a retailer might receive. This enables firms to quickly scale their customer service without having to add extra staff.
These are just a few examples of how AI can help e-commerce businesses grow. If you’d like to know more about how AI can help your business, contact us. We’re happy to discuss the challenges you face and explore the solutions that will take your business into the future!