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Staying Competitive in E-Commerce With AI

New data from the 2021 Adobe Digital Economy Index makes it clear: online spending is surging and shows no signs of stopping. In fact, Adobe expects that by 2022, e-commerce will become a $1 trillion market.

To stay competitive and efficient in this increasingly critical space — and to enable a more robust customer experience (CX) — many retailers have rightfully added chatbots and other digital engagement solutions to their platforms. The data is in here, too; consumers prefer to interact with these artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technologies for simple inquiries, such as retrieving account balances or hearing about out-of-stock items.

Too often, however, the AI makes guesses about a customer’s intention or message. The internet is full of screenshots from “chatbot fails.” They’re indeed entertaining, but these failures can and do have significant consequences for brands in the real world. In other words, to be truly helpful, AI needs to fully understand consumer inquiries and then respond with informed, helpful answers across all of your customer engagement channels.

Related story: Guide the Customer Journey With Personalized, Moments-Based Marketing

Making Helpful Predictions in Natural Conversations

Consider an example: A consumer lands on your website to purchase a pair of black shoes in size nine, which is showing as out of stock. They engage your chatbot to ask about the availability of these shoes. The chatbot simply reiterates that the shoes are out of stock, and the consumer leaves your site to shop at a competitor’s.

But what if the bot went a step further? Instead of saying, “Size nine in black is out of stock,” the chatbot would say, “Size nine in black is expected back in stock on May 15. Would you like to pre-order?” Or, “Customers who were interested in this shoe also explored these options,” and linked the shopper with a range of alternatives.

In this scenario, the chatbot’s helpful insights can be the difference between losing a customer and completing the transaction.

Taking AI to the next level means doing more than integrating a platform that understands consumers’ questions and intent — although that’s certainly essential. It means integrating a platform that recognizes the intent of the consumer’s inquiry, personalizing responses, and engaging your customers in ways that add value to your brand.

Creating Connected Experiences

The moment a consumer engages with your brand — whether that’s on your website, through a mobile app, via SMS, or any other channel — they demand a seamless, frictionless, consistent experience throughout their journey. This focus on CX is “more than just a trend”; it will shape how companies will operate moving forward.

By implementing integrated systems, retailers can create those seamless experiences that give consumers flexibility with when and how they shop. We know, for example, that a majority of customers will call a brand when they can’t find what they need online. An integrated, omnichannel solution will give you a comprehensive view of the customer’s experience across both of those channels, as well as any SMS, virtual assistant or live chat engagement they’ve had with your brand.

When you take your AI to the next level, you’ll uncover more opportunities to boost conversion rates, reduce cart abandonment, drive upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and stay competitive. Ultimately, customer experience and customer satisfaction are the core measures of your brand’s success. Therefore, making the most of every interaction across every channel is vital to your long-term e-commerce success.

Seb Reeve is the director of intelligent engagement business development at Nuance Communications, an American multinational computer software technology corporation.

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