Artificial Intelligence: your guide to smart retail

Since childhood, we have lived with the idea that the human brain can’t be matched. So we haven’t noticed that a serious competitor, that is AI, or artificial intelligence, arrived. Today, when we browse the internet to buy exactly what we need, or to sell our goods, it is no longer possible to imagine that the process can work without these virtual assistants, essentially mysterious to most of us. Almost everything they do they do faster and more efficienty than a man could. With the rapid growth of mobile ecommerce, this is becoming particularly relevant.

If we evaluate global statistics as a whole, it is obvious: the main growth in sales of goods and services today is associated with ecommerce. Of course, this requires rapid development, or, to put it more correctly, – evolution, that is programs based on artificial intelligence, created to stimulate consumers, as well as to forecast various development trends.

Chatbots for products promotion

In the ecommerce system of today, virtual systems based on artificial intelligence often play a more significant role than human intelligence. Moreover, we interact with such programs, in the form of chatbots, almost daily.

Developing and self-improving, these virtual consultants help people. For example, within just a few minutes you can create a Chatfuel bot to promote samples of a youth clothing line made by a little-known European manufacturer on Facebook. Pretty quickly, this bot develops to a level that allows it to independently continue product promotion among users of WhatsApp and Telegram. On these sites, the active part of the audience alone has long exceeded one billion. As a result, the manufacturer who was little-known yesterday can make a huge profit by tomorrow.

Today, “virtual companions” communicate with customers, help them find the right product and check its availability at the supplier’s warehouse, and carry out comparative analysis of similar products. In addition, AI-algorithms are able to automatically conduct an accurate analysis of the client database and evaluate users of various networks. The sales forecast helps in reducing various expenses, in setting up optimization and logistics systems, etc.

As a result, over the past few years there has been a clear trend, when chatbots were launched not only by global marketplaces like Amazon or AliExpress, but also by much less developed ecommerce sites.

Relevance and utility of ecommerce

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has implemented an AI program called Luvo for its clients. This is a so-called “artificial personality” capable of imitating human friendliness and even empathy. The program analyzes the mood of a client, and then perfectly hits its target – selling what is needed.

Likewise, the above-mentioned company Chatfuel launched more than 250 thousand chatbots onto social networks. Creation and initial promotion of these bots becomes easier and cheaper every month. Moreover, each new bot improves on its earlier iteration. These chatbots have long been able to recognize the keywords of a client of a particular trading platform or keep track of the internet sites they visited previously. Using artificial intelligence, companies can process huge volumes of data to predict customers’ behavior and give them useful and relevant recommendations. This level of AI is extremely important for providing a customized shopping to experience consumers.

Online retailers widely use such recommendations to help customers find the best solutions.

For example, Amazon offers recommendations based on the users’ activity on the site and their previous purchases. Netflix’s recommendations take into account users’ preferences within specific categories of movies and TV shows. And eBay collects users’ feedback on products and recommends these products to customers with similar behavioral patterns. The evolution goes on in various combinations. AI is already being widely used to provide customized recommendations to subscribers based on their preferences. It is expected that within the next year this practice will evolve even more quickly.

From a client’s perspective, any solutions that simplify the selection and purchase of a product or service online increase consumer loyalty to a particular trading platform. Clients don’t care who serves them; more important for them are considerations like getting the best value for money, speed and reliability of transactions, feedback and after-sales service. These are the tasks of the invisible AI advisors.

AI for a customized approach

Today, these virtual agents can even analyze the speech of a person who is discussing something in the virtual space. The program then locates the speaker and offers him something, communicating with him using the language of his words and concepts. And these “virtual agents” are no longer being developed, improved and encoded with new abilities by humans – other artificial intelligence programs are now doing this work.

Artificial intelligence helps ecommerce and social media giants, such as eBay, Target and Pinterest, to simplify the search and to minimize guesswork in the process of online shopping. According to Pinterest, 93 percent of their users use the site to plan their purchases. Recently the company, with the help of AI, created searchable images. It is enough to simply touch part of a picture to get information about the product.

The Target retail network recently started working with Pinterest to use image search instead of keyword search in its application. Now users have no need to type descriptive keywords for a desirable piece of furniture, clothing or any other product. They just upload a similar picture – and artificial intelligence selects the ideal match from the available options.

Recently, eBay has used similar technology and allowed its users to share images taken from social networks or from other websites in order to find similar items on eBay.

According to recent studies, up to 3.2 billion exchanges of visual links occur every day on social networks. It is a safe bet that customers want to buy what they share on the internet. Visual search is still developing, but artificial intelligence technology is taking a leading role in the process of erasing the boundary between shopping online and in a physical store.

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