Unlike what pop culture would rather make you believe (or even myself, to be honest), the usage of Artificial Intelligence as someone running an eCommerce campaign/company, you won’t be employing robots. You won't get all your tasks done with the use of voice commands. You won't have fancy hologram visuals of your data. AI is something you could already be employing, like:
1. Data collection via several sources- like CRM, database and personalized data collection tools
2. Data visualization tools- they let you know where you stand and where you're going, even on a grander scale.
3. Setting goals using predictive models
Prime examples of these could be the combination of HubSpot and Google Analytics. Before we dig deeper, I’d like to give a shout out to some of the most underrated AI tools for eCommerce.
Top 4 underrated AI tools
1. Gong, which deals with conversation intelligence
mage source: www.gong.io
mage source: www.jog.ai
3. There’s Chorus too, which works pretty much like Jog, give or take a f few things.
4. Using non-biased algorithms that (with the customers’ permission) fine-tuning exactly where they are and what they want to see, platforms like SparkToro are in the limelight. In order to reach your audience, you may have to know where they are the most. Are they more on Twitter, so you could focus more on that? Is it on the blog, or another platform? Even though you might have thought that surveys, follower counts and the “top ten” searches could give you a good idea of where your audience lingers, we also know at the back of our mind that it’s not truly effective. Follower counts don’t amount to the number of times people have clicked on your link. The most visited sites aren’t the most visited sites/important topics for your audience. Surveys may amount to bias and incomplete data.
Believe it or not, the cost of these services isn’t skyrocketing!
Now, for the meat n’ potatoes of this issue, let’s dive into all the features that are most talked about, and not talked about, and whether or not they’re practical for your business. While investigating the implications and convenience of all the AI tools used these days, we came to one conclusion- whether or not a tool is suitable for you or not depends on these following factors:
- Enterprise level
Fortunately, none of the tools we’re discussing really have a cap on how expensive they could be. It’s the extent to which you apply them. It’s all up to you to weigh out your options and decide if you want a certain tool and to what extent do you want its application to be involved. It might seem like I’m a tenth grader talking to a second grader at the moment, but things are going to get much clearer as we go ahead. Here’s a list of tools that are being embraced and applied as the next gen thing in the ever-evolving, fast pace technological advancements
New tools and techniques focused by eCom stores and other businesses
1. AutoComplete and Search Functionality
Have you ever written keywords into a website and found no results, just because you misspelled it slightly or used a plural word? That’s frustrating, for sure. Or have searched for something and found an unrelated or inaccurate result? Besides auto-complete or finding related results even for partial names or part numbers- if you, as someone handling marketing for eCommerce, could have the best-ranking, popular or featured results to pop up as the user’s search result, having this functionality becomes kind of mandatory. With this, you could have results for synonyms or for words in different languages the users might be typing in. Visual merchandising, like videos, blogs, images, etc. could also show up when they type in their keywords. You could also have features that give suggestions to customers who might have completely misspelled a word. For example, if you’re searching for “jackets” and wrote “jackers” instead, an instant suggestion could pop up- “did you mean jackets?” There are features that could give you statistics over which searches fail and why, or which ones are the most searched for terms. If we look into the features of an optimized, enhanced search function, the possibilities and refinements could be countless.
Is it practical? Yes. Cost-effective? How optimized do you want it to be? Can it be applied to any business? Yes, surely! Nextopia and Loop54 are examples of leaders in the search functionality field.
Image source: www.loop54.com
2. Personalized recommendations and Marketing Optimisation software
Have you ever browsed through your Facebook Feed, your eCommerce store or Amazon and saw items you were just thinking of? Or you bought a book online, and then you were recommended another book because of that, and you just ended up finding your all-time favourite book? That’s akin to that librarian or that friendly shopkeeper in the pre-internet era, showing you around the shop, and guiding you with finding you what you really need. Without these, your eCommerce store is pretty much incomplete. With Computan's team of experienced developers, we were able to shortlist some tools for this very purpose.
A really popular website that help with personalised recommendations and marketing optimization software is Choice.Ai. Snippets from the website show exactly what this is all about and just how useful it is.
Image source: www.choice.ai
Another really effective tool is Personali. With this, you can assess customer behavior, see ways to maximise engagement, and ultimately, modify the incentives to boost sales. It’s got more than 150 million consumers across the globe. We’re not talking about
Image source: www.personali.com
incentive for different times or types of people. We’re talking about individual incentive. That does sound like magic, and isn’t as unrealistic as a robot colleague. Here’s a visual overview of how Personeli works:
Intempt has got integrations for WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Woocommerce and several other eCommerce platforms out there. What it does is quite easy, ignoring the magnanimous automated algorithms that are set in place while it happens.
These personalised campaigns include behavioral messaging, form flow optimization and prospect purchase predictions. While there are several more marketing optimization tools out there, these are examples of the top leaders in the industry, and they’ve got customers because it’s obviously working!
3. Voice Search
When my brother started holding up his phone, saying, “OK Google” and asking random questions, I’d always wait to see how messed up the results would be, taunting him over why he couldn’t type. He told me he was being “progressive”. I now know what being progressive means- it’s to recognize the next big thing and embrace it before it’s too late. Now, nearly everyone I know uses Alexa or Google home, and not just for music. What does this have to do with eCommerce? Well, you have to make sure that your content is showing up if people search for something you’re offering. The problem with most voice searches is that they only recognize snippets of key-words, whereas people, especially shoppers, would use complete sentences to describe what they want. Is your store optimized for something like that? After I asked Habib Ullah from the Computan management team, here’s what he had to say:
HU: Voice search still has a lot of room for improvement, but definitely something not to be overlooked. Now that it’s not too hyped is the time to adapt to it. What we can suggest is to set their FAQ or enable their product pages to get voice queries which is totally free, and crawlers help customers get to the rights products. All we need to do is to configure the micro data and have all of our settings optimized.
Clients like Timberland have used services like EasyAsk to optimize their sites for this very purpose. A lot of major brands have experienced a 37-70% boost in their revenue using EasyAsk and other voice search optimization software. Sundown.AI offers similar services.
image source: www.sundown.ai
4. VR/AR Shopping apps
Okay, so this might seem to be the most far-fetched from all the options we discussed already, but it’s really not. To look into it, I talked to our manager, Habib Ullah. Here’s what he had to say about virtual reality:
H.U: VR is the new thing, so big companies like Amazon, Ali Express etc. have been using them a lot. But the usage of VR isn’t exclusive to those eCommerce giants. You should take a look at this Japanese company, Styly which offers VR services to companies of various sizes.
Now, take an example of some business that has a physical store and an eCommerce one too. Then you could recommend to set a VR shopping app so that the customer could get some virtual experience and buy things from your store. This is more useful if you offer services and not products. I worked with my previous employers to implement functionalities for VR tours for hotels and tourism, where a visitor is going to buy a tour package or make reservations. Like, they can see what quality service they will get and at the time of payment, the customer might change their mind, except when they know they’re investing their money into something that gives both a good value.
VR is also not only used for college/university tours, since a lot of students cannot afford to visit colleges physically, but the VR college tours are boosting a lot of businesses. The same goes for a lot of businesses, where it would ensure the customers will go on with what you’re offering, once they see a real-life glimpse of it. It could be a college, a nail salon or a hotel or a bus-service.
5. Chat bots
Finally, chat bots! Those are the closest things to robots, because they actually, literally interact with your customers. It could save up a lot of time, money and resources. But how practical is it for you? I brought Habib on board for this one too.
A.K: So, there’s a lot of talk about chat bots. Some say it’s too expensive, some say it’s vital, others say it’s better to employ real humans. What’s your take on it?
H.U: For small businesses that there are low on resources, it doesn’t make sense to utilize or develop comprehensive chat bots instantly. But, it does help when you get a response to a query, thanking you for reaching out, and you’re told that a representative will get back to you shortly. It could be through a Facebook page, and this practice could also improve the response time estimate. It also encourages a potential customer to reach out to you. Those are not complete chat bots, but in this way, any company could start obtaining data, which is the first step towards AI. AI is all about dat. Without data, there is no intelligence.
Looking further into chat bots, and how the most comprehensive ones are a bit on the expensive side, I started wondering how those small businesses or the local food vendor websites could afford to use chat-bots when I’d made inquiries through their Facebook pages. I was encouraged to do so, because Facebook informed me that it takes about a minute for them to get back to me. What I discovered was quite astounding, and I found myself jumping on the Facebook Messenger Bot bandwagon. Why. You would ask? Well, here’s why:
- Facebook Messenger is in the top 3 used apps in the world
- Over 20B messages business-related messages are exchanged every month on Facebook Messenger
- It costs lesser than creating, maintaining and marketing an app, or making a bot from scratch for your website. Their price range is variable and depending on the size of your business, affordable as well.
- There are several chat bot tools that can integrate with Facebook Messenger, with an impressive list of clients. Some of those tools, depending on your budget, could offer basic automated (yet extremely useful) responses, like, “We’ll get back to you as soon as possible!” or “Please hold on while a representative gets back to you” or “Would you like to make a query?” If the answer is “yes”, they’d provide you with a number to call. These are not very costly and can make the difference between losing or gaining an important client and going beyond just breaking even at the end of the day.
The final verdict
All of the AI tools are all pretty useful if applied effectively for nearly any company, I believe, if they use their resources wisely and have a solid marketing strategy. Ignoring the emergence of something so forward and useful would be like living under a rock! Whether or not your business is applicable for AI could depend on many factors, you could always reach out to the Computan team if you would like to know more (we don’t use bots- we’d get back to you personally!)