Artificial intelligence is an integral part of the future of ecommerce. Profitable companies will understand how to make technology work in tandem with human counterparts rather than give in to fear that automation will replace people’s jobs. Moving forward, data decisions in ecommerce will be enhanced as technology continues to evolve.
But rather than waiting for AI to fully permeate the industry, ecommerce businesses can leverage technology now to prepare in three ways: by being aware of past and current trends, embracing the next big wave of change and empowering their employees to better use AI as it grows. Test the available technologies, learn from the data, and adapt – or risk being left behind.
Trendspotters: Understand What’s Happening in AI
Although “innovation, disruption, and personalization” are buzzwords we use to describe the current state of the online retail experience, in reality, the internet is still in its infancy. The computing power we developed in the last 30 years has allowed us to get where we are with AI today, but there is still a long way to go.
Digital commerce has become the status quo; however, the flat interface brands offer has remained largely unchanged over time. Comparing the Amazon website in 1999 and today, for instance, the current design is modern, of course, but the UX is still complicated and the overall user experience has hardly changed. We aren’t using the web in a fundamentally different way to make purchases.
Meanwhile, smaller startup costs and the affordability of technology make for a lower barrier to entry and allow companies to fail cheaper than ever before, yet the ecommerce industry is still mostly reactive as opposed to proactive. The percentage of retailers using AI at all is still very low, and ecommerce is now ripe for a quantum leap, driven by AI.
Ready, Get Set: Preparing Your Teams for the Next Big Wave in AI
Taking chances and embracing change are the keys to successful entrepreneurship, and AI offers opportunities for those who are willing to capitalize. In the next two decades, the economic value anticipated from AI is expected to total trillions of dollars, especially across marketing, sales, and operations. It is poised to disrupt all aspects of business, from jobs and hiring to customer service and workplace efficiency.
In the past 10 years, the big five, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, have rapidly acquired a number of AI companies to innovate at the leading edge. Many of these startups have been in the voice search space, but they still represent only a small percentage of the companies in which these giants invest. As we move forward, we will see these AI mergers occur at an even faster rate, as the industry leaders shuffle to come out on top of the tech race.
Act Fast: What You Can Do Now with AI to Stay Ahead
AI is already helping to improve a variety of business functions, such as hiring and customer service across industries, as well as attribution and programmatic in the digital marketing space. Humans are vital to the profitable use of technology, but we also have biases that make us imperfect in our decision-making. HR technology is advancing to reduce bias in hiring and will hopefully improve how we build better, diverse teams in the future. As for customer service, retailers like Lowes have tested AI inventions, such as the Lowebot, to automate processes for shoppers’ success.
Maximizing AI starts with connecting all aspects of the business – from point-of-sale to digital to tech – in order to make the technology smarter. Integrated channels will allow brands to progress, rather than continuing to operate in silos with too much human interference and a lack of holistic tech solutions. AI automation allows companies to improve marketing attribution in new ways when teams are able to feed the right data to the software. Programmatic advertising is the furthest ahead in AI, allowing brands to only pay for ads that are automatically delivered to the right customers at the right time.
Man and Machine: Empowering Your Team for Success
Brands can avoid getting left behind in the next age of digital retail by building data supply chains and pursuing better testing processes and frameworks. Connecting all parts of a business, rather than operating in silos, as well as integrating human intelligence with tech to interpret data, will open the door to advancement. AI is working today, but it is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” innovation – it still requires a human touch. If companies can leverage good data with smart people and align teams around that data, they’ll be in the best place to ride the next wave of AI to success.
Jason Roussos is SVP of Strategy for Adlucent