Unless you have spent the last decade in an Amazon jungle, or a Himalayan settlement cut off from the outside world, you have probably heard of artificial intelligence. Perhaps you also know that it is not merely a product of the imagination of the bright minds, but it has become a valid element of our everyday life. The future is now, as the popular slogan says.
Artificial Intelligence has stepped into many spheres of our lives and has not overlooked online commerce. Good! After all, it can make life so much easier for all those who struggle with the challenges of the eCommerce industry.
Artificial Intelligence, but a true relationship
The statistics make it very clear: by 2020, up to 85% of transactions will be made without human participation. Who, in that case, will be on the other side of the virtual store counter? An algorithm that effectively recognizes the customer, their needs and preferences, knows what products to recommend, and participates in the closure of purchases.
Artificial Intelligence can relieve traders who are usually overwhelmed with the amount of data regarding their customers. This information is often so plentiful that using it is sometimes impossible, or simply falls outside the trader’s time capabilities. It is worth remembering that the very fact of introducing artificial intelligence (which is de facto already a standard in many online stores) does not immediately mean that the customer will start being merely an IP number; on the contrary – thanks to all the mechanics of marketing automation based on machine learning, our communication with the customer becomes personalized, and therefore – much closer.
You can, for example, create a personalized search engine that focuses on a specific client. The main purpose of such search engines is for them to “learn to think human”. Searches can be made by physical similarity to the product. For example, you take a picture of trousers that you like, but you do not know their brand; so what you do is paste a photo into the search engine and get information on where you can buy this model, and how much it costs. Easy, right? This is new because up until now, online shopping has been a largely text-based experience, that is, we typed the product name in the search engine, and the system showed us matching answers based on keyword analysis.
Artificial Intelligence helps improve the customer recommendation system. The recommendation frame itself is no longer enough. Now you have to know what the customer needs at the moment, but also effectively predict what they will need in the near future.
You will be able to even more appropriately tailor an individual offer to each client, based on their purchase preferences, order history, or other information that you collect regarding that client.
Virtual Assistant vs. living person
Using bots and smart assistants will fill the gap between offline and online.
The customer will expect a fully personalized real-time communication and care from an assistant who knows them well and matches the offer to their individual needs. For every employee to be able to handle every client thoroughly would be unreal. Once again, artificial intelligence with its chatbots comes to help.
Artificial Intelligence is a brand new look at marketing personalization. Chatbots are, to put it simply – programs created to simulate a conversation with a living person. Bots serving clients can successfully memorize customer purchase histories (and collect behavioral data) and tailor offers to their individual expectations. Customers will benefit from virtual assistants from the beginning of their purchase path. Product recommendations, customer service support, or providing information will now all rely on these specialized bots. Conversation with a chatbot basically eliminates the risk of error. A robot is not susceptible to emotions, fatigue, and will not respond rudely even to the most abusive client.
Chatbots are gaining human traits. Although it may sound blasphemous – robots are becoming more and more like us (they even have names such as Mona in Amazon). So much that it’s hard to say whether the virtual assistant we’re talking to is a living person or a bot. It can be said that Alan Turing’s vision has come to life, as he had predicted that in the beginning of the new millennium, in 30% of cases we will not be able to tell a conversation with a bot apart from talking to a human being during a 5-minute test.
An assistant in a store that is de facto an artificial intelligence algorithm can recognize us based on our voice or appearance, and also ask us specific questions. Want to talk while having coffee? No problem – there are already virtual assistants you can talk to (with your voice!), ask for purchase details or get information on where the shipment is currently located. They can also ask you where and when you would be using this computer? A bot will take into account the specific conditions of the place the customer mentions and will prepare a special offer.
Personal shopper in your ear
Not very popular here, although in the West a highly desirable profession – a personal shopper can be successfully replaced by its virtual counterpart, which – based on collected data – always knows what to offer to its customer (there is an iPhone-dedicated app that acts as a shopping advisor).
Let’s get carried away a little – the more daring of us already talk about implants with personal assistants. Sounds unreal? Imagine how our great-grandfather would react a few decades ago to being able to call someone using a small device that fits in a pocket.
Involving a personal shopper results in us no longer having to keep abreast of news, promotions or look for the right size, because an intelligent advisor tells us when the store has an interesting product at a good price. It can even make a purchase on your behalf. If a brand often, although irregularly, offers discounted products, then the presence of such an assistant is beneficial because it can keep track of the bargains and buy products at the best moment.
Paradoxically, although the term “artificial intelligence” sounds as inhumane as possible, it actually serves a better and more personalized communication with humans. It allows employees of the eCommerce sector to track hundreds of thousands of transactions daily and, based on AI algorithms, to create unique offers for customers. With that, you will simply create a more effective sales process (and a more impressive one, too).
The advantages of introducing artificial intelligence can be truly impressive. We are becoming better and better in dealing with the analysis of large demographics on customers; the processes of matching the offer to their expectations are real-time and highly reliable.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of change that artificial intelligence can bring in e-commerce. Of course, only the rich and the mighty can afford to benefit from advanced AI technology. But notice how fast the changes are taking place nowadays! It’s only a matter of time until most stores will be able to have us have a little chat with an intelligent bot, without even knowing it.