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July 20, 2021

AI in eCommerce: It's Everywhere

PJ Utsi
PJ Utsi
Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer

When you think of AI, it's easy to think of science fiction. You may think Artificial Intelligence (AI) still belongs in the future and that it's not yet something that affects you in your daily life. Well, nothing could be more wrong.

In reality, AI is encountered by most people many times a day, and it impacts our lives in a variety of ways. Artificial Intelligence is a truly transformative technology, and it's everywhere. 

In 2017, Andrew Ng, computer scientist and Coursera co-founder, described AI as the new electricity. That’s how revolutionary the technology is. And just as electricity once transformed so much in life over 100 years ago, AI is the power today that is impacting the way we live and work more and more. 

Just think about it. We unlock our digital devices multiple times a day with facial recognition. We trust our search engines to know exactly what we are after every time. We expect our smart speakers to tell every member of the household apart. We expect our opponent bots in video games to be challenging. We get a little disappointed every time a spam message makes it through to our inbox. AI is a part of almost everything we do in our digital lives. And just as with electricity, we will probably only be able to grasp the full effects of AI in hindsight. 

AI in eCommerce

The use cases for AI in eCommerce are numerous, and the industry is constantly finding new ways to apply and leverage this emerging technology. And as always, the early adopters tend to come out ahead. 

One of the main advantages of AI is its ability to do many of the tasks a human would have been responsible for previously—only better and much faster. 

Whether it's sifting through large amounts of data, identifying images, or finding discrepancies in systems and processes, AI will usually beat any human. Not only in terms of speed but also in terms of accuracy. Artificial Intelligence never gets tired, never sleeps, and never gets distracted or bored. No human errors exist when AI is in charge.

Related reading: AI in eCommerce – How It Adds Value

AI Use Cases for Different eCommerce Roles

AI is already altering many of the classic professional roles within eCommerce. There are plenty of tasks that digital teams do repeatedly, where AI can easily replace manual labor. 

All things that do not require creativity, and are just about executing well-defined tasks, can easily be outsourced to an AI bot. To illustrate what this means in a more concrete way, let's look at specific examples of eCommerce roles where AI can significantly improve the outcome: Category Manager and Visual Merchandiser.

Category Manager  

In an eCommerce business, one person may be responsible for apparel while another person is responsible for house appliances. They manage these categories and are buying goods based on what has previously sold well. To do this, they must look at data. What are the products that sold out? What are the current trends? What’s in stock? 

Monitoring all of this data and basing data-driven decisions on that information is a perfect task for AI. For a human being, it's impossible to process information at the same speed and quantities as an AI bot. An AI bot can calculate what to buy and also how much, at what price, and when to put the items on sale. 

Visual Merchandiser 

Another example is the visual merchandiser role. Assigning products to the correct category, associating products with categories, deciding what goes where on a web page, and what item to show a website visitor next—these are all tasks where an AI-based solution will outperform humans by light-years. AI will enable you to see connections you were not aware of before. 

For example, if you recommend a specific pair of boots with a particular pair of jeans, what will happen? AI will be able to make reliable predictions and recommendations based on all of the accumulated data. AI allows for unprecedented levels of personalization and conversion optimization.

Other areas in your eCommerce team that can benefit from AI include sales managers, promotion managers, email marketers, advertising managers—all empowered by AI. 

AI and Pricing in eCommerce

Pricing strategy in eCommerce involves a large number of factors and inputs, traditionally including manual competitive analysis and calculations. Pricing decisions are based on large data sets, which means they're actually a perfect application for AI. 

Companies like PriceShape provide automated processes that combine internal and competitive pricing with inventory data, all enacted in real-time. These continual updates allow companies to employ a dynamic pricing strategy that is scalable, evolving, and married to your specific profit targets.

AI also allows you to personalize your pricing. This means you can adjust prices and offers based on the current users on your website and how they behave. You can even change your prices based on global supply and demand. For example, you're able to increase prices when your competitor's stocks are running low. Browsers looking to buy the product right away will often be happy to buy it from your store at a higher price if that means they can get the item sooner.

Related reading: Dynamic Pricing in eCommerce – How It Works


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AI and Fraud Prevention in Ecommerce

Ecommerce fraud has been a serious problem ever since commerce went digital, and fraud prevention and fraud detection are challenges that all eCommerce businesses need to address. 

According to Juniper Research, fraud could cost online retailers over $71 billion over the coming years. Finding efficient strategies to prevent fraud can have a significant impact on your company's bottom line.  

Luckily, AI offers those solutions. By analyzing millions of online global transactions, AI-based machine learning can be used to spot irregular and suspect behavior and transactions. 

For example, a customer may have made an abnormal amount of orders in the past minutes, entered a false address in the address fields, or skipped the basic information needed to deliver an order. These things are impossible for humans to spot and evaluate in real-time. 

AI models, on the other hand, can quickly come up with complex rules that help prevent the sometimes disastrous outcomes of fraudulent transactions. Partners such as Digital River help protect companies against attempted fraud with AI, which in turn minimizes lost revenue and increases credit acceptance rates. 

AI and Synthetic Media in eCommerce

An important aspect of eCommerce design and development is personalization—surfacing the right products to the right buyers—all based on AI. Yet, a relatively new area of AI-enhanced personalization is synthetic media. Synthetic media refers to images, videos, sounds, or any other form of content that has been generated, edited, or synthesized by AI. In other words, synthetic media content has been automatically created by artificial intelligence. This includes the hyper-realistic AI-generated images and videos, also known as "deep fakes."

There are many applications for synthetic media in eCommerce that can help businesses engage, convert, and retain customers. Examples include image enhancement, content localization, human-like voices, and virtual environments. 

Today, the development of AI tools like Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) are making it possible to almost entirely automate content production. The goal is to reduce the time, cost, and frictions associated with conventional content production.

Related reading: Digital Experience Optimized Through Better Creative Execution

Takeaways

AI is a disruptive technology that is changing the digital landscape and the world of eCommerce at the very core. The businesses who realize the advantages of this emerging technology early are the ones who will win the race, and those who remain hesitant will soon be left hopelessly behind. 

While there will always be areas where the human touch is required, there are many aspects of eCommerce that are best handled by AI. Implementing artificial intelligence in your eCommerce business will help you make data-driven strategic choices and scale your business way faster than you otherwise could.  

 

Some of the areas where AI can benefit your business include but are not limited to:

  • eCommerce pricing strategies
  • Fraud prevention and fraud detection
  • Using synthetic media to save time and money

And as our examples earlier in this article showed, many professional eCommerce roles will change and increasingly focus on managing the AI rather than managing the actual data and strategic decisions. 

Partner With Experts To Create A Winning AI Strategy for Your Business

In many eCommerce businesses, there is a lack of bandwidth for implementing new technologies, platforms, and pricing models—placing a heavy burden on IT, marketing, or merchandising teams.

If your company needs help navigating the opportunities that AI brings to eCommerce or integrating AI with your existing tools and platform, Vaimo can help. 

At Vaimo, we're presently helping more than 65 multi-brand, multi-currency, multi-language clients sync all their channels and create winning eCommerce strategies. Get in touch with our team of experts to learn how we can help you take your eCommerce business to the next level!  

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