“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” — Steve Jobs
How is AI helping e-commerce businesses get closer to their customers? Here are three ways.
Hyper-personalization is the name of the selling game, and AI has taken this to a whole different level. By creating highly specific customer-centric search, AI reaches into the minds of consumers and tells them what they need through personalized recommendations that improve search results for online shoppers.
The primary strength of artificial intelligence is its ability to assimilate and analyze huge volumes of data and present actionable outcomes. E-commerce taps into this potential by using AI to identify patterns based on common threads like purchase history, credit checks, browsing patterns, account information, and a lot more. These patterns form the basis of creating customized recommendations for each customer.
Natural language processing — such as Amazon with Alexa and Starbucks with My Starbucks Barista — has revolutionized the way AI powers customer engagement. AI is now stepping up its evolution through image recognition. The customer-centric experience is being enhanced where AI interacts with the visual elements of search. Images and video are tagged, organized, and used to visually search for similar content. A logo, a product, a style — any visual element can be analyzed by AI to personalize recommendations to consumers. Pinterest uses this image recognition software in the most recent update of its Chrome extension. Through this, you can surface images from across the web that look similar to your choice of product. Imagine its application in e-commerce!
Artificial intelligence has made possible the evolution of chatbots. Along with being the most effective tool for automation, these chatbots are fast becoming the ears and eyes of e-commerce. Automation of order processes and other operational and marketing tasks is one way these are used, but there is a lot more.
Integrating a chatbot system into a shopping cart could make the shopping experience a whole lot easier, thus ensuring customers come back every time. Retrieving product information, shipping details, and payment details makes the customer experience much faster and more streamlined, giving them an impetus to come back to your store rather than go anywhere else.
The most important of all the applications of chatbots is perhaps in an online chat.
“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them,” says Kevin Stirtz, author of More Loyal Customers.
To make these contacts or interactions with customers meaningful is a prime focus of online stores. Chatbots make that possible.
These chatbots can be trained to hold real conversations with potential customers in live chat mode. The near-human experience that these chatbots enable is mind boggling. Providing information about products, resolving issues, being pleasant, engaging customers, gaining information to make their experience better... these are just some of the things that a chatbot can accomplish — all without the constant supervision of a human. Their role in providing customer service through social platforms is becoming an imperative part of e-commerce.
3. Retargeting Potential Customers
Did you spend a lot of time checking out that television at the department store the last time you were there? You might not have made a purchase, but AI technology has duly noted that you like that product and will be using that information to retarget you. Facial recognition captures customer’s “dwell time” even in brick and mortar! In e-commerce, this is much easier. Calculating the “dwell time” when a customer lingers over a product in the store, will give stores an idea of the preference of the shopper. Enough insight to custom design a product offer that the customer will find hard to resist!
Responding to the customer’s impulse is definitely a huge step ahead. Retargeting is usually achieved by a piece of code on your e-commerce website. This code collects data such as the location of the visitor, the time spent on a page and more. It goes one step further and drops a cookie in the visitor’s browser, which gives you information from their surfing session across the web even after they have left your site! Gathering buyer intent data is invaluable, as this helps customize the offers and ads that are sent to each potential customer. It also provides valuable feedback on which sites are doing better than yours and why.
Hyper-personalization, chatbots, and retargeting customers are just three ways AI is enhancing customer experience in e-commerce. As technology makes leaps every day, we can be sure to see many more innovations that make customer-retailer interactions much more relevant and meaningful. “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human,” predicts a Garner Study. The marriage of AI and e-commerce shows a promising future. Let’s wait and watch.