Have you ever thought about learning in advance what products your customers would be most likely to buy? What if I told you that you can maximise your ecommerce profits by doing just that? Wouldn’t that be just great? Personalised and predictive retail is no easy job, but it may come sooner than expected.
Imagine you’re clients are about to leave the house to go out for dinner. As they put on their coats, they hear a voice from the kitchen: “It looks like you have only one yogurt left in the fridge and the milk is on sale. Would you like to pick up an order from Whole Foods for a total of $7.12?” They say yes and Amazon’s Alexa confirms. You may think that this is a funky concept, but this futuristic scenario isn’t that far off. With big companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon working on various projects based on Artificial Intelligence, consumer expectations are accelerated. In 2016, you can receive notifications on your fridge, on your smartphone or call an Uber with Siri or even book an entire vacation for two (flight+hotel) through a Facebook Messenger bot. So, with these in had the eCommerce landscape is due for a change.
eCommerce Personalisation is here to stay
eCommerce stores have been around for more than 20 yrs now (Amazon started its first online bookstore in 1995), but these websites have never been as big as they are nowadays. Online stores are now present across all sort of devices and have enveloped a great variety of product niches. As the eCommerce landscape grew, so did the customers pool, and in this regard, segmentation becomes the thing to create better engagement. This is based on the fact that in order to make a visitor actually convert into a customer you need to first understand that customer in terms of age, gender and all sort of demographics before you communicate your offer. And the only tool to do this on a larger scale is the artificial intelligence that enhances your user’s segmentation using metadata and semantic analysis, then delivering predictive recommendations to increase conversions and grow your platform.
We’re about to enter in the era of convenience business and predictive eCommerce. It’s about time retailers help people find products that are the best fit for their needs, and perhaps before they even perceive that need. This shift will require creating experiences that understand human behaviour on the website and responds with large-scale automation and data integration.
Retail giants are already using machine-learning algorithms to forecast demand and set prices. Amazon declared that personalisation technologies help them to better address the users. eCommerce owners need to drive inspiration from this big retailers and learn to dynamically recommend products and set pricing methods that appeal to individual consumers.
What can AI do for your store?
But what does prediction mean? It means AI requires detecting patterns from a massive database you already have from your online store’s visitors such as purchase histories, product preferences, pricing preferences all the data used to forecast demand. This is the spot where AI kicks in. This is where the big global companies are investing right now. Earlier this year, Etsy bought a company that specialises in machine learning to make its searches more predictive in terms of product recommendations. This is the next sexy thing in terms of online selling – personalisation offers based on AI.
The buying process is already becoming less of a deliberate activity than an organic part of how we experience daily life. It’s not just smartphones that make browsing and buying spontaneous; Amazon’s Dash buttons and Alexa-powered Echo device are enabling purchases in the consumer’s households. This is just the beginning.
The next generation of smart assistants and connected devices will learn from user habits and pick up on behavioral and environmental patterns in order to make these experiences more predictive. This is a huge potential for eCommerce to learn a thing or two from the IoT devices and incorporate predictive and personalisation offers into their websites. This will lead to a better experience a user has on the website on one sees personalised offers. Store owners need to create experiences that make this magic trick. People expect even faster and more intelligent services than they receive today. Soon, in the very near future, the expectation will shift to on-demand and predictive commerce. It’s time to get ahead of that change.