As more eCommerce professionals invest in artificial intelligence, they’re starting to see how this tool can be leveraged to drive growth across a variety of disciplines. The web design team uses it to test different layouts, while the marketing team increases conversions and grows the company’s ROI. AI is incredibly versatile, especially when it comes to eCommerce.
This piece is meant to guide you through the conversion process to see how AI can impact and improve the consumer experience. Keep reading to learn how eCommerce professionals are using AI tools to improve the customer journey and grow their sales.
AI Makes it Easier to Target Potential Customers
Historically, ad companies and creatives have developed ad campaigns, created lists of target audiences, and then presented these ads across a variety of platforms. Almost every aspect of this is changing. ClickZ reports that 46% of customers want free content on the web that only serves relevant ads, and 58% say that personalized content that improves the perception of a brand.
AI tools across the web pair audiences with ads. Instead of broadcast advertising like you would on TV, AI makes sure your message gets in front of people who are most likely to buy. Even if you set key target audiences, some machine learning tools will take over and show your ads who are likely to see them the most.
This is a great example of targeted advertising: a Stella Artois overlay for a beer article by Creative Loafing. The product and target audience match flawlessly.
Interestingly, artificial intelligence development and its use is also changing the advertising creation process. An AI bot was recently tasked with creating an ad for breath mints. It came up with an ad with a flying dog in a business suit. When showed to 200 ad execs, the majority of humans actually prefered the flying dog to the campaign humans came up with about a woman on a rooftop.
While AI isn’t driving all creative directors out of business, it could soon serve as an advertising generation tool for small businesses who can’t afford expensive ad agencies.
AI Helps Optimize Your Website for Better Results
Along with improving your marketing efforts, some people are considering the effects of artificial intelligence on website design and optimization. AI tools can improve your layout for better usability, optimize your site for SEO to drive more traffic, and even take popular factors like voice search into consideration. With AI, small businesses can only afford template designs through sites like WordPress can now expand their pages and create better experiences that match their brand.
For example, 72% of small businesses think AI gives them a competitive advantage, and 61% plan to develop an innovation strategy to identify missed opportunities. This proves that the uses of AI are varied enough that some companies can pick and choose which tools suit their needs the best.
Of course, many of these tools are still in development, and every machine has flaws. Don’t worry, web designers, we still need you to guide these tools and make sure the decisions they make improve the site and create a positive experience for your customers.
AI Puts the Best Products In Front of Your Site Visitors
There’s a whole science developing to figure out how to put the best possible items in front of your customers. Many eCommerce brands feature their top items first, pushing their best selling to the front of the product listings. However, some artificial intelligence tools are taking this to the next level.
Instead of basing the layout on sales numbers, AI tools try to determine which products their customers are most likely to buy. (Think about the Netflix algorithm and apply it to eCommerce. While many people might like Black Mirror, Netflix isn’t going to promote it to customers who have little-to-no interest in dystopia or suspense.)
AI tools can reside on category pages, or they can improve your product pages. By providing better recommendations on product pages, customers can find items they are happy with or add items to their cart in the form of upsells.
As an example, Ralph Lauren has a widget on their eCommerce site that encourages shoppers to “Complete the Look,” by promoting additions that go well with the items customers look for. They also showcase the model in the completed outfit. This way, Ralph Lauren sells a whole outfit instead of just a few pieces of clothing.
A product page by Ralph Lauren
AI Reduces Cart Abandonment and Brings Customers Back
A main sore point for many eCommerce professionals is cart abandonment. Many companies experience cart abandonment rates close to 70% or more, meaning the vast majority of customers add items and leave without checking out.
You spend so much time and investment in finding audiences, nurturing leads, and bringing them to your website, why would you be happy losing 70% of your potential sales.
There are multiple AI tools that work to increase the chances that people convert to reduce your abandon cart rate. One tool tracks what it calls “digital body language,” to see how customers are behaving and whether they are likely to buy. Your in-store associates already see this. They can tell when a customer is seriously considering an item and on the fence about a purchase. The AI tool works to push promotional messaging or provide more information to customers who are likely to buy, increasing the chances that they convert.
Along with targeting customers before they buy, some abandon cart rate systems work to bring customers back. They might use machine learning to determine which leads would respond to an abandoned cart email or use retargeting around the web to remind people to complete the purchase. Even if your AI tools bring back a limited percentage of these customers, you can see a dramatic uptick in sales as your abandonment rate decreases.
AI Engages Customers After They Made a Purchase
There is one final way that artificial intelligence can improve your customer journey and increase conversion: it engages people after they make a purchase. One of the best things you can do for your business is engage customers a few days, weeks, or even months after their first purchase. Repeat customers are significantly more affordable to market to and tend to spend more when they shop. For example, a customer spends an average of 67% more in their 31st to 36th months of their relationship with a company than during the first six months. Plus, reducing your churn by as little as 5% can increase your profits by 25 – 125%.
AI tools, like a smart email marketing software system, will look at your customer behavior and demographics. Through the analysis of dozens of micro-moments and other data, they will sort your customers and develop tailored messages to bring them back to your site. This reengagement is often considered worth the investment when companies see the sales and increase in repeat customers on the site. AI tools can do wonders for your conversion rate and your customer journey as a whole.