Few industries are as competitive as ecommerce. Not only are online retailers competing with other online stores and brick-and-mortar locations, but also the overall noise that is the Internet. We live in a world where consumer attention span is getting shorter and shorter:40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and the average shopping cart is abandoned more than 68 percent of the time. I’m hard pressed to find an ecommerce site that is not constantly scrambling to engage more and drive more sales.
Technology is finally helping with those efforts in a big way. Artificial intelligence (AI), which has demonstrated its value in industries like marketing, healthcare and finance, is now making a splash in online commerce.
Antoine Blondeau, CEO of the world’s most funded AI company,Sentient Technologies, oncesaid, “Five years from now, we’ll see AI take a bigger role in making decisions, creating pre-emptive solutions, and delivering insights. Society will become much more efficient as a result. Think logistics, ecommerce, healthcare, finance — in all these domains and others we will start to see massive gains from AI. We’ll be able to leverage AI systems to help get things to where they need to go faster and cheaper, we’ll be able to enable people to see and buy things they weren’t even aware existed or even knew they wanted.”
Here are three ways AI will impact ecommerce in the coming years:
Shoppers, say goodbye to impulse control. Software platforms that drive ecommerce websites are creating visual search capabilities which allow consumers to upload an image and find similar/complementary products. The visual search capabilities, particularly via mobile, “reads” the item for clues — color, shape, size, fabric and brand. This helps consumers to find exactly what they are looking for right away.
“In the age of Snapchat, Instagram, and the rapidly reducing attention spans of the digital age, AI-driven platforms will be essential to ecommerce success,” says Akash Bhatia, cofounder and CEO ofInfinite Analytics, a deep machine learning and predictive analytics platform for retail.
A consumer doesn’t even have to be shopping to see something they would like to purchase — a new pair of Nike’s at the gym or a friend’s new dress — to easily find similar items on your ecommerce store.
These visual search capabilities can now create ties from online to offline like never before. As retailers redefine the way consumers engage with their brand, retail of the future will have more information about shoppers to improve their customer service, ultimately to create the opportunity to sell more items. The offline to online experience requires minimal steps to shop and purchase, providing a sense of autonomy to the consumer.
Shopping in the future will use AI to gather information you’ve posted on the website, such as a product review, to service you in their brick-and-mortar counterpart better and make suggestions accordingly.