SwiftERM Hyper-personalisation for ecommerce email marketing
SwiftERM logo
The challenges of AI for ecommerce

The challenges of AI for ecommerce

AI has the potential to revolutionise the ecommerce industry, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Here are some of the key challenges that ecommerce businesses face when implementing AI:

  1. Data Quality and Quantity:
    • AI algorithms require vast amounts of high-quality data to make accurate predictions and recommendations. Ecommerce companies often struggle with data collection, cleaning, and ensuring data privacy compliance.

  2. Data Privacy and Security:
    • Handling customer data poses significant privacy and security concerns. Ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR and CCPA is essential, and any data breaches can result in severe consequences.

  3. Integration with Existing Systems:
    • Many ecommerce businesses have legacy systems in place. Integrating AI solutions with these systems can be complex and costly, and it may require a complete overhaul of the existing infrastructure.

  4. High Initial Costs:
    • Developing and implementing AI solutions can be expensive, especially for smaller ecommerce businesses. Costs include hiring data scientists and engineers, purchasing hardware, and acquiring or building AI models. Don’t be fooled, some AI solutions offer a free opportunity to sample the rewards.

  5. Talent Shortage:
    • There is a shortage of AI and machine learning talent. Finding and retaining skilled data scientists and engineers can be challenging, and competition for top talent is fierce.

  6. Algorithm Bias:
    • AI algorithms can inherit biases present in training data, potentially leading to discriminatory or unfair outcomes. Ecommerce companies must actively address and mitigate algorithmic bias to maintain trust and fairness.

  7. Customer Trust:
    • Implementing AI in ecommerce may raise concerns among customers regarding data privacy, security, and the ethical use of AI. Building and maintaining customer trust is crucial. AI being so advanced typically has this addressed from day 1.

  8. User Experience:
    • While AI can enhance the user experience by personalizing recommendations and streamlining processes, poor implementation or overreliance on AI can lead to a frustrating customer experience.

  9. Scalability:
    • As an ecommerce business grows, its AI systems must scale to handle increased data and user interactions. Scalability challenges can arise in both technology infrastructure and the AI models themselves.

  10. Ethical and Regulatory Compliance:
    • Ecommerce companies must navigate a complex landscape of AI ethics and regulations. Compliance with various regional and industry-specific laws is essential to avoid legal and reputational risks.
  11. Competition:
    • As more ecommerce businesses adopt AI, competition intensifies. Staying ahead in the AI game requires continuous innovation and adaptation.

  12. ROI Uncertainty:
    • Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of AI implementations can be challenging. It may take time to see tangible results, and some AI projects may not deliver the expected benefits. On the other hand, some AI solutions hit the ground running, and early adopters never look back.

Despite these challenges, the adoption of AI in ecommerce offers substantial opportunities for businesses to enhance customer experiences, optimise operations, and gain a competitive edge. Addressing these challenges effectively is crucial for ecommerce companies looking to harness the full potential of AI in their operations.

Types of AI technology used in ecommerce

AI is not a singular technology; it encompasses various models. There are four leading AI technologies used in ecommerce: 

  • Natural language processing (NLP): Natural language processing focuses on enabling computers to interpret and generate natural human language. 

  • Machine learning (ML): Machine learning uses statistical techniques, including algorithms, to enable computers to learn from data and make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed. Deep learning models—such as transformers and large language models (LLMs) like OpenAi’s ChatGPT—layer algorithms to understand data better.

  • Computer vision (CV): Computer vision is a field of artificial intelligence that enables computers to interpret information from images and videos.

  • Data mining: Data mining is the process of discovering data to inform AI algorithms and systems. 

7 applications of AI in ecommerce

From helping customers find the right products to price matching, you can apply AI across all your ecommerce business operations and processes. Here are the seven main use cases: 

1. Hyper-personalised product recommendations 

Hyper-personalised product recommendations use data from past customer behaviour, browsing history, and purchase history to suggest products. 

For example, NLP-based AI can understand online shoppers’ language and images to match them with desired products. AI-powered features like “which product is a specific individual most likely to buy next” or “rank all the products that each customer will buy within the next 12 months” can suggest complementary products based on size, colour, shape, fabric, and brand, but also based on that individual’s buying cycle, click-though, visits, duration and navigation.

Ask yourself why this one element leads the field in ROI. The simple answer is that it delivers the greatest and most immediate return for the least investment. Get this implemented first, and everything else will fall into place.

2. Chatbots and virtual assistants

Chatbots and virtual assistants can act as customer service representatives for your ecommerce business, helping field customer queries and facilitating online shopping by providing tips. They use AI, NLP, and, most recently, generative AI to understand and respond to customer requests. 

You can use chatbots and virtual assistants to:

  • Make efficient customer interactions. Chatbots and virtual assistants can handle simple transactions, process orders, and provide personalised offers to customers, making it easier to field a large volume of requests across various point-of-sales (POS) channels—from a physical store, online, or through a mobile app. 

  • Collect customer data. Chatbots and virtual assistants can collect customer data, such as sizing and the reasons for inquiry, which can help inform product development and improve customer service. 

  • Enhance checkout. Online businesses can also integrate a chatbot into the checkout page so customers can easily ask about product details, quantities for highly sought-after items, and shipping information, without leaving their cart.

  • Provide 24/7 customer service. Chatbots and virtual assistants can provide prompt responses 24/7, allowing your live support agents to address more complex customer service issues. AI can help you reduce customer service costs by automatically resolving disputes and processing refunds.

3. Fraud detection and prevention

AI can assist in fraud detection and prevention by analysing data, detecting anomalies, and monitoring transactions in real time. The technology can spot unusual transactions, such as high-value transfers, multiple transactions within a short time frame or from unfamiliar locations, and flag them for further investigation.

You can also use machine learning models to generate user profiles based on behaviour data like browsing habits, transaction history, and device history, then compare current consumer behaviour with historical data to identify fraudulent behaviour. For example, if a user suddenly makes a large purchase from an unfamiliar location, the machine learning model can flag it for fraud if it doesn’t align with their data profile. 

4. Inventory management 

AI can help you manage inventory by analysing historical sales data and predicting future demand. For example, real-time data through sensors and RFID tags—wireless identification technology using radio frequency—can give you a sense of what products are selling, where they’re going, and whether they’re coming from a physical store or distribution centre. 

AI-enabled inventory management can automate the inventory replenishment processes by integrating with suppliers to ensure timely restocking. You can also use AI to forecast transit times and shipment delays and communicate these updates with stakeholders, including customers.

5. Dynamic pricing 

Dynamic pricing allows you to adjust your prices and offerings based on real-time user behaviour, global supply and demand, and competitors. With the power of AI, you can anticipate optimal discounting opportunities and dynamically determine the minimum discount required to drive a successful sale. 

AI gives multichannel retailers more flexibility in price structuring. By leveraging AI, retailers can vary prices across different POS channels depending on observed demand. For instance, if you sell products on your website and Amazon, you can intelligently discount your items on Amazon when there is a significant influx of purchasing activity from this particular channel.

AI also facilitates assortment intelligence—data-driven optimisation of product variety and selection. Assortment intelligence provides insights into your products and competitors, making adjusting your selection and pricing easier. You can also use AI to price-match your competitors to ensure your customers always get the best deal.

6. Customer churn prediction 

AI allows ecommerce businesses to understand customers better and identify new trends. It can analyse customer engagements across POS channels and offer insights for optimisation as more consumer data becomes available. 

Machine learning can help your business identify and reduce customer churn by predicting when customers might be on the verge of leaving your platform. First, AI can pull data on customer churn indicators such as abandoned carts, browse abandonment, or website bounce rate. Then, you can automate purchase completion emails, loyalty discounts, and follow-up abandoned cart inquiries, making it easier to encourage customers to complete the purchase process.

7. Generative AI

Generative AI is an artificial intelligence system that generates text, images, or other media based on prompts. Popular generative tools include ChatGPT and DALL-E. 

Ecommerce businesses are using generative AI to scale the production of their marketing collateral and tailor it to different audiences. For example, a copywriter can write a marketing email and run it through a generative AI tool to customise it for various customer segments. Marketers can also prompt generative AI to give feedback on their brand messaging and positioning to ensure it aligns with targeted customer personas.

Benefits of using AI in ecommerce

AI offers several benefits to ecommerce businesses: 

  • Increased sales. AI can help you create a more efficient sales process by gathering and analysing customer data to personalise your sales funnel. With more data, you can engage with the right prospects with the right message at the right time. French delivery service Chronopost saw an 85% increase in sales revenue after using AI-driven campaigns during its 2022 holiday season. 

  • Better appreciation from personal customer service. AI can analyse customer feedback and big data from multiple touchpoints to measure customer interactions. Ecommerce websites can use this data to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience. Collecting customer data helps you identify shopper’s preferences so you can create custom offers that encourage them to make a purchase. Brands like Ruti have implemented virtual sales associates, leading to an increase in conversion rate and average order value.

  • Reallocation of time and resources. AI can help you automate tasks and processes like emailing, order fulfilment, customer service, and payment processing. Automations help you reduce labour costs and improve operational efficiency so you can spend less time on maintenance and more time innovating. AI-powered forecasting in supply chain management can reduce errors by up to 50%, lessening lost sales and product unavailability by up to 65%.

Share :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *