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Boost Ecommerce UX This Holiday Season with AI

29th Nov 2021
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We have entered the peak season for retail and ecommerce businesses, starting with Black Friday, until the New Year. The final quarter is busier than usual and a lucrative time of year for many businesses.

Last year's COVID-19 pandemic furthered the trend of online shopping and permanently altered consumer retail behaviour. The holiday season drives increased customer traffic, particularly for ecommerce websites.

If you are running one or more such businesses, then your priority is not just getting more traffic but converting that traffic into actual sales. And today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a big role in that.

That is, when it comes to ecommerce, AI is becoming increasingly ingrained in all operations, ranging from logistics to on-site user experience (UX). Seventy-seven percent of retailers plan to implement AI within the year. This includes leveraging intelligent automation solutions throughout their sales, marketing, and customer care departments to create a consistent customer experience.  

For this purpose, you will need to use AI models and analytics tools to bring together a variety of previously segregated, organised and unstructured data sources. Here are the four concrete benefits of using AI models and analytics tools:

  1. Drive AI-assisted selling, highlighting the need to gather micro-level engagement activities throughout an active deal's lifecycle.
  2. Identify multiple selling points (direct sales, commission-based sales, tracked UTM from affiliates) to determine what drives more sales.
  3. Refresh the sales technology roadmap by identifying the AI-guided selling solution that is most applicable to your Black Friday's sales funnel.
  4. Determine areas that are most vulnerable to human guesswork or need the most in-depth analysis of business processes. This will help prioritise where AI-based guided selling tasks are most appropriate during this holiday season.

Ultimately, you need a blend of transactional data, demographic data, and psychographic data to infer what consumers think and when they are likely to make a purchase.

The AI solution must rely on machine learning, similar to how Amazon Alexa functions for the AI solution to be completely automated. It involves a lot of time and data for the system to automate the inventory management process. 

An understanding of data science and analytics is required along with the ability to extract and integrate information. There is a human component to the AI solution, so it is not only about integrating data into the system. 

It also includes behavioural analysis, gauging that someone buying a pair of Nike sneakers may wish to buy a pair of premium socks. To leverage such automated upsell and cross-sell opportunities, you need an AI personalization tool like Dialogue that provides tailored recommendations based on the user’s journey. 

Dialogue helps ecommerce businesses to create frictionless and engaging customer experiences using AI. Its top features include automatic product recommendations, custom content generation, and targeted banners that open up new cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Once you are set with the AI tools, you can use them across various business functions, from content generation to customer interaction and inventory management.

Below are some of the key business segments to implement AI to generate more sales this holiday season.

Creating Content that Connects

Compelling content is one that aligns with the interests and addresses the pain points of your prospective and current customers.

Anyword is an excellent tool for sending branded material to the targeting individuals. It does so by leveraging Natural Language Processing (NLP) that uses the programme to analyse your data by identifying the individuals who are most likely to interact with your content based on their previous behaviour. 

Paid ad campaigns are generated for a wide range of demographics. And, with AI constantly assessing content performance, your marketing team can leverage Black Friday sales data. You can then make data-driven decisions to influence your bottom line. This tool may help marketers that want to get more mileage out of sponsored content distribution.

A tool such as Personyze can help you design dynamic landing pages based on your visitor details like source, demographics, previous behaviour, and other factors. Its AI algorithm also considers visitors’ wisdom that helps you with behavioural targeting. In turn, your AI-driven landing pages help you with a personalised ad campaign (with tailored content) to a specific set of audiences that improve your conversion rates. 

You can use platforms for content marketing that take content optimisation to the next level. Platforms like Contentools will soon recommend internal links to include alongside keywords in your blog articles and provide insights on the optimal placement of CTAs inside your text.

Integrate chatbots

Research reported a 40.3% reduction in their trips to brick & mortar stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, many ecommerce merchants are attempting to mimic the storefronts that offer necessary help online using conversational AI chatbots.

Use chatbots that help find products for yourself and even get gifting ideas depending on the person you are shopping for. These virtual shopping assistants help discover items based on various features — simulating the in-store, guided experience of getting help from a store employee. 

Consumers are responsive to these conversational AI chatbots. A report indicates that 80% of consumers have a positive experience with chatbots.

You can now integrate visual search technology directly into popular chat platforms like Facebook Messenger or directly into your app or website. This will provide users with an AI-driven experience enabling them to search for the exact product by searching the image. For instance, they might search black shirts and receive similar recommended items within a specified budget range. 

However, there is another factor to consider — chatbots provide a new channel of contact with consumers, working as personal shopping agents to streamline the buying experience as much as possible. This is why you need to simplify your chatbot strategy this holiday season to ensure an improved customer experience.

Inventory management

Inventory management can unlock enhanced CX while also improving your ROI. It's not just about ensuring that the right products arrive at the right time during the holiday season but also forecasting demand levels. 

Including AI helps you with calculated predictions to avoid having too much or too little of a particular product amidst the Black Friday sale. Once you have access to products that aren't selling well, you can identify what sales or promotions are necessary to move them up the order.

Inventory control has a ripple effect across your company — affecting everything from sales to customer service to internal operations, which can ultimately impact CX. Manual inventory management might become more difficult, especially during the festival sale. 

Rendering AI for inventory gives you an estimate of demand levels, optimising storage processes for the most cost-effective techniques, and target promotion (with custom content as discussed earlier) to get slower-moving products sold, and much more.

Here are a couple of key use cases for AI in inventory management:

Computer Vision 

Numerous businesses are successfully using Computer Vision (CV) technology following are some of the ways it helps you improve inventory management during the Black Friday sale:

Improve stock levels. You may need an automated system that can keep track of the warehouse's current inventory levels. If the stock level falls below a certain threshold, you will get an alert to replace stock. CV can detect stock level, and connecting it with one of the popular CV tools can trigger an automated purchase order.

Reduce human errors. CV systems can reduce human counting mistakes by using an accurate bar-code reading.

Detecting damaged items. CV enables organisations to distribute damaged inventory items more precisely.

Inventory data analytics

Data analytics benefits businesses in a variety of ways, depending on the sort of data obtained. Stock control automation is based on four key forms of data analytics:

1. Descriptive: Access to how your inventory levels are moving along with the bottlenecks it faces in terms of improving last-mile delivery.

2. Diagnostic: Help you determine why your procedures are failing or ineffective to match Black Friday sales demands.

3. Predictive: Detecting the next sales peak and when you need to restock your inventory. 

4. Prescriptive: Inventory adjustments at each stage of the process to maximise its effectiveness?

Warehouse automation

Over the past few years, automated warehouses have become a need for ecommerce businesses. Since features like next-day or same-day shipping can create a difference in competition. Therefore, you cannot disregard the necessity of smart warehouses to improve customer experience.

The increasing volume of orders coincides with plummeting turnaround times to stay ahead of the competition during the Black Friday festival sale. Therefore, the number of SKUs increases, but order volume decreases. As a result, warehouses are forsaking established processes to meet increased demand.

Robots driven by artificial intelligence are constantly replenishing their supply of goods. Robots are then sent the details of an order after being placed by a customer, for example, via warehouse management software. A robot subsequently sends packaged goods to its final destination.

Use Automated Guided Vehicles

With so much going on during the Black Friday sale, what if you miss a timely delivery? It will create a negative experience for your users and, ultimately, a bad review.

AGVs and AMRs are Automated Guided Vehicles (AMRs) that operate like a robot. Historically, AGVs were employed to retrieve products from pallets and floors in huge warehouses. AMRs are a more sophisticated kind of AGVs. They do not need a pre-defined or definite path to roam the warehouse. 

Once the warehouse map is loaded into their system, these robots can navigate autonomously using sensors and cameras.

For example, when users place an order, the information is relayed to the warehouse management system. The software then sends the data to the robots assigned to that order. Then, the robot is sent to remove the requested products from stock and package them for shipment.

Virtual personal shopping assistance

In a brick-and-mortar business, the consumer gets the ability to speak directly with a shop assistant. They may inquire about a certain item in a specific colour or size. These benefits are difficult to emulate online.

Creating a difference this festive season will require you to offer unique methods like virtual assistance to match the benefits of the physical experience.

For instance, if a user is buying a gaming console on your site, implement an AI-powered intelligent chatbot that proposes a list of accessories (joystick, game bundle, etc.) to add value to purchase. 

Again, if you are into retail fashion, your buyers may face choice fatigue. They get confused about choosing appropriate clothing for a particular occasion. In such a case, you can offer a virtual fashion advisor. 

Recommendations can come in the form of a chatbot who proposes the ideal dress for, say, a friend's wedding or beach holidays and pairs it with footwear and accessories that complements it.

Using virtual personal shoppers with tools like kindly.ai is an excellent way to use AI for product-related interaction. AI assistants may assess where they are in the purchasing process and give product suggestions tailored to their needs to attract new clients. With Facebook Ads' strong retargeting capability, a Facebook Messenger chatbot is the right platform for ecommerce businesses to capture leads.

Customer retention is now more crucial than customer acquisition for most firms simply because current customers create more money than new customers. You would want the people who bought from your store to return during the Christman break. 

The following ways illustrate how Conversational AI assists ecommerce businesses in retaining existing customers:

1. Transactional Messages from a Virtual Assistant enable ecommerce firms to engage their consumers throughout the buy and post-purchase journeys.

2. The Virtual Assistant's 24/7 availability enables ecommerce businesses to give a seamless CX.

3. When it comes to shopping, 97% of customers hunt for bargains. Virtual Assistants may assist loyal consumers by providing recommendations, coupons, discounts, and prizes, enhancing firms' rewards programs.

Wrapping up

Ecommerce businesses and CX executives must act now to prepare for the seasonal rush. The tips outlined above can help you grow and manage the higher volumes with a customer-centric focus, which is the biggest challenge and priority today.

To ensure a pleasant customer experience and a successful holiday season with the power of AI, the time to act is now!

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