This post was featured in Total Retail Magazine and can be read here.
Already widely in use in other industries such as finance and healthcare, the application of Artificial Intelligence technologies has enormous potential for the retail sector. Previous Total Retail articles have commented on the power of AI to revolutionize the way people shop online.
However, instead of dreaming of the potential of what tomorrow can bring, let us focus on three practical applications harnessing Artificial Intelligence that are currently available and being used by eCommerce sites.
Reviews have grown in importance with shoppers increasingly looking for consumer opinions to guide them on the best products for them. eCommerce sites have two main challenges with reviews: they either don’t have enough, resulting in potential shoppers deserting them for other sites, or there are too many reviews causing text fatigue.
Sites like Shop.com are applying AI technology to help them both collect consumer opinions from across the web but also to help them display reviews on site. Natural Language Processing can make sense of large amounts of text, allowing shoppers to understand opinions relating to the specific products they are looking for.
Now that you have applied AI to the large number of consumer opinions available, you can then use this to power the search bar on your eCommerce site. This is vital for retailers as up to 30% of users will use the search box to find a product. There have been huge advances made in the technology that underpins the search bar but the ability to type in text based on intent and not product specification is finally here.
‘’Strollers that are good for beach walking’’
‘’Kitchen gadgets that are easy on sore wrists’’
‘’Good vegetarian restaurants for a first date’’
These are some of the intent based searches that consumers can now look for. AI’s ability to include User Generated Content to power these results means that shoppers will not only find products more relevant to them, but also that shoppers can trust in crowd wisdom as opposed to the descriptions that brands give their own products.
A chatbot is computer program that converses in natural language using data and text analysis to perform automated tasks and actions on those tasks.
A hot topic right now, retailers have started experimenting with chatbots with mixed success. 1-800-Flowers is using this technology to great effect with 70% of customers ordering through their chatbot being new customers.
Bots, powered by Artificial Intelligence, can perform numerous tasks, from customer service, retention, sales and a more intuitive conversational interface. Furthermore, the growing popularity of messenger apps – Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Sina Weibo – and voice activated search assistants – Siri and Cortana – means that retailers can communicate with shoppers on the platforms that they are most comfortable using.
In July, Macy’s started testing a mobile web tool that allows customers to input natural language questions and get answers customized to the store they’re in regarding, for example, a specific store layout or stock availability. They have partnered with IBM to test “Macy’s On Call” across ten store locations.
Retailers that don’t keep pace with advances in the way shoppers research and purchase products will undoubtedly fall behind, however, the good news is that the technology only dreamed of until recently is now available for retailers of all sizes to take advantage of.
Ezra Daya is the co-founder and CEO of Aspectiva.
Using Artificial Intelligence technologies, Aspectiva analyzes consumer opinions from across the web, turning them into comprehensive and valuable insights, helping eCommerce visitors make informed decisions resulting in increased online conversion rates.