The way most people picture artificial intelligence are futuristic robots with human-like features that exist alongside us. Though we have no idea of what AI will look like in the future, today’s artificial intelligence looks nothing like that. But it does exist.
In fact, most people interact with it on a daily basis. There may even be some examples in the Addons Marketplace. So, how are companies using AI and how can your company utilize it to make the most of your eCommerce store?
Does your company use a chatbot? If not, you’re missing out on one of the most common AI features utilized by companies today. You’ll find one for your website here.
Think about it: Instead of having a large customer support team constantly handling the same requests, you have an AI solution that is built to understand basic requests and respond correctly, pass off more difficult requests to real humans, and learn on the job what and how people are asking questions about your product to provide your sales teams with additional insights. Doesn’t that sound great?
It should. Chatbots can be expensive and time-consuming to customize and train correctly. However, the benefits you can gain from using one continue to grow as they get more sophisticated. You can widen your sales funnel, ensure timely responses to every customer, handle surges in questions and problems with ease, and learn more about your customers than ever before.
Things to consider :
- Does it have natural language processing? (This means it can understand requests made in conversational language. Imagine being able to type or say, “Could you tell me how much my bill for this month is?” rather than a command like “Show statement for June”. Consider how a bot like Siri reacts vs a traditional search engine. In general, customers react better to bots that seem more human-like.)
- Can it learn on its own or will you have to continually train it? (Most AI bots today learn through data. You want a bot that can gather and understand the data it receives on its own – a process called machine learning – rather than one you’ll need to feed new data to or write new tasks for constantly. While most bots will do this, more active learning on difficult tasks may come with a much larger price tag.)
There are a lot of benefits to programmatic advertising. You can target specific types of customers with products that align with their specific interests. You can provide retargeting campaigns to suggest items customers considered buying but did not purchase. You can create campaigns that are more focused to reach a known audience rather than the large and varied audience that billboards, newspaper ads, and even television offer.
While programmatic advertising in general can be more targeted, AI can help narrow this down even further. For example, programmatic advertising purchases happen in milliseconds. That’s faster than any human can make a decision, which means that marketing teams have to set parameters in advance and tell the program what types of ads they want to buy from which customers.
With AI, a bot can make decisions as fast as the transactions are occurring. You can train your AI to learn what ideal customers look like. In real-time, the AI can then look at what options are being presented and choose to allocate more of your budget toward customers that are most likely to convert. That means less wasted money for you with micro-targeted campaigns.
Things to consider :
- Can you optimize for multiple types of customers or just one? (Obviously, most companies have multiple customer profiles that they sell to. Being able to target multiple and set up hierarchies of most desirable to least desirable will be incredibly useful here.)
- Will it layer with your current ad stack or will you need to make changes? (Some solutions will plug into any ad tech you are already using. Others only work with specific ad tech options. Look for one with flexibility that will allow you to adjust as the programmatic market continues to evolve.)
- Is it a pre-built solution or will you need developers in your company to integrate it? (Another key issue: if you don’t have developers on hand, you may struggle to integrate some of these solutions. Smaller companies may want to look at simpler solutions to start with and grow from there.)
Risk scoring is another way artificial intelligence can help companies save money. Fraud is a billion-dollar industry that plagues eCommerce. Anything that can give companies a leg up on fraudsters is extremely valuable.
In the past, many companies relied on manual reviews to figure out whether orders were fraudulent or genuine. Even if employees had access to a lot of data, it could be difficult to determine what was fraud – not to mention how time-consuming it was.
Today, many fraud solutions automate this decision using AI. The program can be trained to differentiate between customers trying to make an order and fraudsters using stolen payment information, freight forwarders, hacked accounts, and more.
Though no program is infallible, AI can help make these decisions quickly and much more accurately than humans by identifying and analyzing hundreds of data points in only seconds. These quick decisions mean you can weed out fraud without negatively impacting the checkout process for your good customers.
Things to consider :
- Can the protection be adjusted for your company/industry/etc? (Risk factors for a jewelry store will be different than those for a t-shirt company. Ensure that the protection you choose is flexible enough to conform to your needs.)
- How long does it take to implement? (Some solutions take months to train while others can be up and running in minutes. Look at whether the user is scored using historical data or real-time data. Prevention companies that use historical data will need a longer time to give an accurate result.)
- Is there a guarantee? (There are pros and cons to guarantees. They do not cover all instances, and they can often err on the side of caution, which may result in more false declines. They do, however, offer some protection for when the decision is incorrect. The key is to look for a solution that offers a good balance between accepting more orders and still protecting your store.)
Even if you haven’t heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), you have likely used a product in this category. You may even be using one right now. The term refers to any internet connected device that is not a computer. This could be your cellphone, Fitbit, tv, car or even refrigerator. If your coffeemaker connects to your phone so that you can remotely set a time for it to brew, it is part of the IoT.
The IoT has made many things easier, but the biggest thing it offers is data. Data has become the lifeblood of businesses, helping them better connect with customers and work more efficiently. With the IoT, businesses have additional opportunities to take advantage of this data and combine it with AI for streamlined processes and smoother workflows.
AI can be used with the IoT for predictive maintenance on delivery vehicles as well as optimized routing and scheduling of deliveries. It can predict operating conditions for construction or monitor and adjust temperatures in a factory or storage facility. While implementation and costs will vary widely, the benefits can be significant.
Things to consider :
- Will this have an immediate impact on our bottom line? (Because some of these systems will be complicated and expensive to put in place, you’ll want to research how long it will take to see a return on your investment.)
- How difficult will this be to implement? (Some AI solutions using IoT technologies will take months to implement, but you may already have access to some that you just haven’t been using. Look for potential uses that you can take advantage of now.)
Honestly, we have no idea what AI will look like or be capable of in the future. In 2019, the Turing Award was given to the three “Godfathers of AI” for their work in advancing artificial intelligence. But even they don’t agree on what the future of AI holds. We may one day see computer intelligence that can learn and think the way that humans do. For now, companies should consider how they can use the current technologies to their best advantage.