How AI Is Affecting Ecommerce

Posted on the 1st November 2016

AI could be the next big thing in the world of ecommerce. It is hoped that AI will achieve something that loyalty programs have been trying to do for many years – building customer loyalty by developing an understanding of the needs of individual customers.

AI has managed to make its way into many aspects of our lives, and there are even toys for kids that have rudimentary AI systems in them. However, it’s not just “smart” devices that are having an impact. Today, AI is becoming a tool for customer service too, and more and more companies are using AI to try to figure out what to sell to you, and how to support your shopping habits.

Customer Service From AI

Gartner believes that by 2020, around 85 percent of customer interactions will be carried out without a human. By 2018, Gartner suggests that customer digital assistants will be commonplace – and those assistants will recognise customers through their faces and voices.

AI is not a new thing. By 2014, venture capitalists had invested more than $300 million into AI start-ups. Today, brands have acknowledged that AI and smart platforms can provide shoppers with a better customer experience.

SiteZeus, for example, is a location-intelligence platform which uses machine learning to identify the perfect retail location for brands, based on shopper behaviour. For those online-only brands, there are other tools that can help to replicate, or even beat, the real-world experience on a website.

It’s hard for online retailers to compete in certain niches. In store, a customer can touch, hold, try on or taste products. The ecommerce experience is different, but AI can change that to a certain extent by making the experience more personal, and matching goods to customers more accurately. By doing this, shoppers have the confidence to try something new, because they know the recommendations are tailored to them, rather than being a one-size-fits-all suggestion.

Facebook Bots Doing Great Things

One area where AI is proving useful is on Facebook. Chatbots are being used for everything from helping people to fight parking tickets, to answering customer service questions, and even playing games. Using Facebook Bots for customer service is a great way to save time and give customers the information they need in a timely fashion. AI can’t completely replace humans, but it can be a good support tool – letting the AI give an initial response, then having a human follow up with more information if it is necessary.