I know, I know: we’ve all heard about the rise of “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) in practically all areas of business—but what exactly is it, anyway? And what does it have to do with marketing?
If you’re not familiar with AI, all you really need to know is that it’s machines doing tasks that would normally require us to help. On top of that, many of these machines are able to actually learn how to improve the way in which they’re doing the tasks too.
A lot of us in the marketing sphere probably think of AI as something only engineers are interested in. Maybe you’ve heard Elon Musk or Tim Cook talking about the exciting future of it, but that’s not really relevant for us…is it?
The truth is, the development of AI is increasingly important for those of us in the marketing game! It all boils down to machines being able to tackle tasks that would normally require our input, freeing up time and energy for us.
The key for us is not only how quickly these machines handle the tasks, but how much more efficient they do them as well. With new developments happening all the time in the world of AI, machines are not only conquering projects, but they’re learning while working!
How Will AI Influence E-Commerce?
With the current status of the online marketplace, e-commerce has become more saturated and competitive meaning that for a business to succeed, it needs to be faster and smarter. Take building websites, for example. Whereas before, you would have to hire a web designer and pay thousands of dollars to have a professional website, now you only need an AI website builder to produce your website for you within minutes. Customer and visitor data is all around us, constantly collected, and always important for businesses to analyze. But what if we could collect, organize, analyze, and then put that data to work for us in an even more efficient manner? Well that’s exactly where AI comes in, and it’s changing up the online marketing game in a big way.
1. Smart Technology
Are you familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT)? In today’s world, the internet is so much more than a bunch of computers and laptops connected together. Just like your smart phone (that you may be reading this on right now), so many other objects are connected to our modern day internet. From printers to smartwatches and cars to fridges, everything can be connected to make life easier! Wait, did I just say fridges?
Image Source: Samsung
Yes! Let me introduce you to Samsung’s Family Hub™. This refrigerator (yes, you read that correctly—it’s a fridge) uses a combination of AI and interior cameras to fully integrate this once oldschool icebox into a smart appliance that makes your family’s life easier!
The fridge actually monitors what is stocked in the fridge with three cameras and can order more groceries as food levels get low. On top of that, the AI can even recommend recipes for upcoming meals based on what’s stocked in the fridge: talk about convenient!
Have you ever used that handy “chat now” box when shopping online? Chances are, when you were chatting with someone online, you were actually talking to a bot programmed to help with any questions you may have; and honestly, it’s getting difficult to even tell the difference! With new chatbots on the market, the chatting experience is becoming more personalized, branded, and intelligent.
Now e-commerce shops can offer 24/7 customer support to visitors, quickly collect valuable data, track behavior, and reach seamless brand continuity—all through AI’s machine learning and advancement. With an effective, automated chatbot, e-commerce sites and retailers can further conversion rates by tailoring the online experience for the consumer without having to do any extra work.
3. Customer Relationship Management
Perhaps one of AI’s most impressive features is its predictive nature. Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is now a thing of the past. What used to be collecting copious amounts of data to be tackled by someone when they finally had enough time to conquer the project for drawing conclusions and making future predictions, is now streamlined and far more efficient.
Don’t have anyone in-house who’s an expert at Excel Pivot Tables? Don’t worry about it. Now all you need is your handy AI programmed to consume all the incoming data (which is a lot to sift through, believe me) and spit out important information about who is likely to buy from you, what they’re going to buy, and what you can do to effectively engage with them to maximize conversion of visitors to customers—and even increase the spending habits of current customers.
With the help of AI, the days of aggressive re-marketing and focusing on amount of ad exposure will be long gone. The new marketing era will be able to focus on quality and directing more relevant advertising to the right visitors at the right time. On top of making things easier for you, these advances are also going to improve the overall experience of the customer too.
What’s that I hear? I don’t know about you, but that definitely sounds like higher conversions to me.
4. Inventory Management
Similarly, AI’s predictive analytics are making big waves in the world of inventory management. If you’re reading this and you’ve ever worked with the constant pain of keeping inventory up to date, shelves stocked, and keeping an accurate track of everything, you’ll know how much an absolute nightmare inventory management can be. Traditionally, inventory management used a hindsight perspective; however, we all know that what was is not the best metric for determining what is in the dynamic e-commerce marketplace.
AI technology allows shop owners to get important information about factors driving demand and predictive analysis for what future demands are likely to come into the market. Based on how machine learning works, the longer you use your AI buddy, the smarter it will become for your business as it learns more about your company, customers, and visitors. Thanks to advances in AI, shop owners will be able to more accurately predict both real-time and future inventory needs for their business.
5. Image Classification
Image Source: Pinterest
If you’re anything like the rest of us online, you’ve inevitably had the experience of coming across something you loved and wanted to buy, but you didn’t actually know what it was called or how you could find it. Luckily, that’s another way AI is changing the game. With its ability to classify, interpret, and understand images, AI is making it easier to find what you didn’t even know the name of.
The next time you’re on Pinterest and you find a pinned room that you absolutely love, how about being directed to Visually Similar results on the side? Makes it a whole lot easier to find that chair, rug, or artwork, eh? Or maybe even quickly snapping a picture of the shoes you saw someone walking down the sidewalk in and then using an App to help you find and buy those exact shoes? Now shopping for that perfect item is not only easier, but can be done anytime, anywhere.
Want an example of AI already working for a business? If you weren’t already familiar with this feature, you can open up the Amazon mobile app and point the camera on your phone at something and Amazon will identify it and pull it up for you to add it to your cart. Talk about using AI to make it as easy as possible for consumers to purchase products online!
So what does this all mean for us marketers?
Ultimately, this means that AI will help us to improve our e-commerce platforms to cater to the needs and interest of visitors. We can recommend products and services in an effective manner that are actually relevant to consumers (so the ads will intrigue them and catch their attention, rather than annoy and push away) and we can help visitors find new products in a relaxed, conversational manner in the same way they would speak with an actual person.
Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies have seen sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture.
AI is changing the name of the game with online retailers and e-commerce marketing. With all of the value being added to the marketplace, e-retailers cannot only advance their business practices, but free up their own time to focus on other important matters. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get smarter and faster with your business!
About the author
David Kosmayer is CEO and Founder of Bookmark, an AI-powered website builder disrupting the web design industry. David created his first company at 22 just coming out of college. Marketing Extensions Inc., an online affiliate and marketing agency, was born from the basement of his parent’s home. This company grew under his leadership into a 55-person team, topping $60M in revenue in less than a decade. David is highly focused, dedicated and passionate about building successful companies.