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Will the ‘rise of AI’ change how people shop online?

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Will the ‘rise of AI’ change how people shop online?


The artificial intelligence sector has seen a surge of innovation, opening up new opportunities in various industries particularly with the rise of AI. Online retail in particular is experiencing a remarkable shift due to these advancements, transforming the shopping experience for both shoppers and retailers. Michael Tutek, co-founder and CEO, preezie explores.

On the shopper side, features like visual search enable users to take pictures of items and receive recommendations for similar products. On the retailer side, we can expect to see more advanced AI-powered chatbots and predictive analytics driving decision-making during the buying process.

The expansion of AI’s application comes with many pros and makes the execution of eCommerce and marketing strategies far more efficient and powerful. However, while AI is a valuable tool, it cannot meet every need on its own. For companies looking to capitalise on this industry shift to improve their customer experience, it’s essential to understand some key considerations and marketing tools that still deliver a human touch.

What’s ahead in the rise of AI?

Twenty-two percent of business leaders currently say they believe AR/VR experiences are the most important trend in marketing, followed by AI-generated content (22 percent), personalisation (20 percent), and automation (11 percent). Google and Meta are leading the charge in the field of online retail marketing – they’ve poured substantial resources into developing AI technology, constantly improving their core products and services. This has led to exploring new and exciting avenues that push the limits of what’s possible. By leveraging the power of AI, they’re able to deliver highly personalised and convenient experiences that cater to the unique needs and preferences of each individual customer. 

The breadth of accessibility may also make the usage of online advertising tools more competitive, social media strategies more complex, and overall create more difficulties for small-to-medium businesses trying to market effectively.

While this shift is inevitable, it presents an opportunity to explore other lesser-known tools and approaches as part of an online or hybrid retail strategy in order to break through the noise. Unique on-site qualities that will make your brand far more memorable to consumers in the long run and brands that focus on a ‘human touch’ will stand out in a market increasingly crowded with artificial intelligence.

The human opportunity

This current wave of AI has facilitated some incredible consumer-focused applications already. However, even the most sophisticated AI simply cannot understand the depths of human behaviour and consumer desires in that uniquely human way.

This presents an opportunity for marketers willing to innovate by harnessing the additional time that AI-powered automation affords them to achieve breakthroughs elsewhere.

While many routine marketing and advertising tasks may now require less oversight, marketers have the opportunity to meaningfully evaluate how the online purchase experience can be enhanced to appeal directly to consumer behaviour.

While transforming your website experience is often a daunting task at the best of times, utilising AI to automate simpler and less vital processes will afford you the time necessary to really audit your shopping experience on a human level.

At the end of the day, would you prefer to feel like you’re being sold a product by a robot relying on data input, or a person who really understands what they’re presenting to you?

The drawbacks of retail AI

The hypothetical I just mentioned highlights another point you must consider – if you’ve decided to delve into using AI for the first time, having access to quality and sufficient data is crucial for building accurate models. Without the necessary volume of data, assumptions made by the model are much more likely to be incorrect and the output will almost certainly be flawed.

Additionally, the AI’s assumptions about a user’s gender or location can become skewed when a device is shared between multiple users. For instance, if an AI assumes that I am a 30-year-old male from Melbourne but my partner, who is a 25-year-old female, uses my computer, the recommendations will typically be off.

Given the complexity of the models and the vast amounts of data required to train AI, many brands may find it more practical to stick to the basics of consumer interactions, such as using preezie journeys to ask the shopper directly about their interests and preferences, rather than relying on assumptions or imperfect data. By doing so, a value exchange is created between shoppers and brands where shoppers willingly share information about themselves in exchange for personalised recommendations, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

The bottom line

There’s no doubt: AI is here to stay – and given both the hype surrounding it and the very real opportunities it presents, we are going to see its rapid integration across all sectors of physical, online and hybrid retail. There are undoubtedly advantages that AI innovation can provide your brand right now but the real winners in the long-term will be those that don’t see this technology as a ‘fix all’.

Instead, I believe that brands that harness AI for efficiency, rather than use it as a replacement for delivering customer experiences, will be the big winners. Using the additional time across marketing, web development and sales to amplify your business’ human element will allow you to be distinct and memorable, ultimately keeping shoppers coming back.

If there’s just one simple lesson here it’s this: Leave AI to fulfil the jobs it is best suited to handle, so you can achieve things with your brand that only a human can accomplish.


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