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Natural Language Processing: The future of e-Commerce product search

Is Natural Language Processing (NLP) the Future of E-Commerce Product Search?

There is a plethora of content available today and is growing by leaps and bounds every day. There is a need to organize this content into categories and ensure that they show up if it is searched for. This is especially important for e-commerce businesses and retailers who have catalogs of products. Here is when search engines play a critical role - be it the Google, Bing engines or the on-site product search engines which helps users find what they desire.

It is important for retailers and e-commerce businesses to understand and analyze the needs and behavior of their target customers. Listening to what they express online via social media or forums becomes imperative for these businesses to provide a better customer experience. This also helps them to understand what the kind of language the user may use to buy a specific item.

While this may be an easy task for humans, it is time-consuming. Here is where  AI and machine learning fits perfectly. Using Natural language processing, machines can easily pick on what words or phrases humans would naturally use while looking for a particular item.  

Natural Language Processing or NLP is the ability of a computer program to understand human language as it is spoken. Human speech is often ambiguous and the linguistic structure can depend on various complex variables, including the regional dialects and social context including colloquial terminologies.

Using a search engine is interacting with a system, and utilizing NLP helps customize the search for the user. Using NLP helps the system understand what kind of language was used and how the sentence was structured. Using these points, the system derives what the user is actually searching for, and provide results accordingly. Detecting patterns and creating links between the messaging is what it does best, and with Natural Language Processing, it is powered to derive meanings from unstructured text.

 For instance, a search query for “sleeveless men’s shirts” would involve understanding the context of the words, and without NLP, search engines would unable to process the link between sleeveless and shirts and the results would end up looking like this -

Search results for sleeveless men's shirts

Here, the word “shirt” has not been taken into account, and the results have shown only sleeveless “t-shirts” or vests instead of the intended search - “sleeveless shirt”.

Why do users search for “top budget-friendly phones from 2018” on a search engine yet not on e-commerce websites directly?

An intent for a search would be to find discussions and do some research in the user’s purchase process. And while the word “top” is subjective, content creators and SEO agencies (providing product lists) usually pick words such as “top” or “best” in their communication. 

Whereas, in an e-commerce store, users understand that using words like “top” or “best” is subjective. There is no rule that can translate “budget-friendly” being “less than $200” since it depends on the type of product as well as the perception of “budget-friendly”. The advantage of keyword heavy communication is that the format of communication is standardized - which works on most e-commerce sites.

What's plaguing Natural Language Processing today?

The performance of the NLP model depends directly on the quantity and quality of the data that it is fed, as s the case with every ML model. Retailers and e-commerce businesses need to consider the problem with synonyms and slangs which works differently in different regions. Lexical databases such as WordNet can come in handy, but they are limited to English and therefore it may not work for international stores, catering to customers from different cultures and languages.

There is a high possibility of a discrepancy between - what a customer calls a product, and how the metadata describes the product. The words that customers use to describe the desired product often describes another product rather than the one they want. 

Will NLP be the future of e-commerce product search?

Successful integration of NLP into online product search is still challenging. In a typical retail eCommerce application, it would involve getting an algorithm to gather data about all the products being sold and put in a structure and normalize it. It would then find all linguistic attributes that would be used to describe each product. The challenge here is that leveraging NLP technologies put the burden on search engines and not on the consumer to make the experience natural. 

Online product search will evolve in a manner in which the context understanding will be integrated with the search engine allowing humans to have conversations with them in a natural environment. For example, Customers searching for fashion products have a different way of phrasing requests as opposed to customers searching for home furnishing products. NLP platforms of the future would be able to contextually understand these variations.

As NLP gains momentum, the growth would give increase its capability to provide better customer experiences. NLP may very well be the future.

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scattered photos of coffee

Types of product imagery that drive eCommerce sales

Types of product imagery that drive e-commerce sale

Touching and feeling a product has always been the sign of a savvy shopper. The softness of a fabric, the firmness of a fruit has been the cornerstone of the tactile experience of shopping and we have traditionally held in esteem, the men and women who are skilled at establishing quality just by their sense of touch. This age-old process, however, is eliminated in the increasingly digital world and Retailers are scrambling to innovate so as to provide the customers an experience that engages their other senses.

This is where good product content comes into play - a detailed product description paints an image which allows the customer to get to know what the product is, what it can do and what it potentially feels like. Labels, ingredients, and materials used to expand the connection we have with the product or similar products and the customer is given as many tools as possible to create the sensations needed to make that purchase.

And finally, product images connect the textual dots to let the customer see what the product would look like and give context to how the product appears visually.

Product imagery plays a pivotal role

Uncertainty and missing information are two of the top reasons why people decide not to buy a product online. Customers tend to leave their shopping journey when they feel the product doesn't have enough or clear information. This could range from product reviews and the materials used to the size specifications. However, product imagery takes the cake in being the primary driver of sales. Studies have shown, 92% of consumers are driven to a purchasing decision based on product imagery, may it be images or videos.

Therefore naturally, the quality of product images directly affects the ability to generate sales making it crucial for brands and retailers to use high-quality images and HD videos while showcasing their products.

So what exactly do shoppers want from a brand or retailer's product imagery?

Product angles

Customers generally like to view a  product from every angle. A study conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group found that consumers were better informed after viewing clear, high-quality product images. This helps them “see” and extrapolate on what the features could be.
The quantity of images also plays an important role. 

For example, for a floral dress, the imagery should reflect the color palette, the draping, and how it would look like from the front, sides and the back. This would bring the user’s attention to small features such as a button or a sleeve detailing.

Walmart - product page for floral dress with different product images

In the case of electronics, besides the ability to view the product from every angle, the images can also show the buttons or outlet sockets. This would come in handy for the user as he may not need to refer to the manual every single time, looking for a function.

Size matters 

If customers need a magnifying glass to view product images, there is something wrong. The imagery should be able to show enough details that the customers don't need to go to a store and look at the actual product in person. If the imagery shows the detailing from afar as well as when zoomed in, it would imitate feeling the texture of the product. Furthermore, the size of the image in the product catalog also plays a large role in piquing the interest of a shopper.

The VWO blog reported an A/B test comparing catalogs with smaller vs larger images. The results showed that larger product images led to a 9.46 percent in sales in comparison to smaller product images.

So when it comes to product imagery, size does matter.

Presentation

The battle does not end with putting up images of the product. How it is being shown also affects the shopper’s buying decision.

While some shoppers prefer to see the product image against a plain background, there are some that want to see the products used contextually. There is another set of shoppers who would like to see user-generated images from people who have purchased the product in the past.

When providing product images for millennial shoppers, in addition to quality sized images, social media tends plays a pivotal role. Millennials get attracted to products that are socially endorsed. This also gives shoppers an impetus to share their purchases online.

While shoppers have always valued brand shopping experiences above all, the rise of innovations integrating online and in-store is intriguing. VR technology and AI integration help shoppers get a better understanding of how to use the products. Shoppers also depend on VR to help product images or product labels come to life.

Piled up Polaroid photos


The fact that consumers want quality product imagery is not something new, but it is valuable to know what kind of imagery the target customers are looking for. This ensures that retailers and brands create product content that meets the needs of the customers inadvertently driving sales and an increase in customer base.

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Online Shopping and Grocery – building consumer trust

Online Shopping and Grocery - building consumer trust

Online shopping has skyrocketed in the past few years. While it will continue to grow, majority of consumers still prefer to shop in-store - especially when it concerns grocery shopping. It’s no secret that the grocery industry has been the slowest major retail sector to join the e-commerce bandwagon.

As grocers are investing their resources to move their businesses online, there is competition among them to provide the best customer experience.

There have been a lot announcements made recently in this space. Retail giants like Walmart, announced the pilot of a new robotic back-end which would manage online orders in its super centers. Amazon added curbside grocery pickup for online orders as a Amazon Prime membership perk at Whole Foods. Whereas Target, rolled out same day delivery for groceries and other categories.

Consumers are concerned

While there is a lot of talk about omnichannel and online efforts, research suggests that people today still go to grocery stores.

According to a Gallup survey of 1,033 US adults, 84 percent said that they would never buy their groceries online. About 11 percent order groceries online for pickup or delivery twice in a month or lesser. While only 4 percent order once a week or more.

The survey highlights the fact that people still use the traditional means to purchase grocery. To ensure that the majority of the purchases are made online, it is imperative for the online retailers to provide an incentive to engage and help users purchase groceries online. The incentives could be in the form of timeline delivery of goods, competitive pricing, trusted & reliable products.    

The familiar feeling of a traditional store infrastructure cannot be replaced. Hence, the need of hour is to make the underlying technology for groceries feel human, comforting and intuitive.

lady buying apples at a store

Enabling technology for groceries 

By investing in technology and infrastructure, along with access to instant delivery channels, online grocers can build trust among consumers. 

Detailed product information 

Consumers have often been able to verify the quality of groceries such as fruits and vegetables with stores. When not physically present in the store, the consumer is unable to verify the quality of the products, thereby, increasing risk and uncertainty.

In an online platform, the product page must provide the right data of the particular product in terms of the images, the product description, the product specifications (size or weight/volume) along with the date it has been manufactured and the expiration date to be clearly mentioned.

This helps the consumer get the right information to make a decision. When consumers gain more knowledge about the product, and gain trust towards the platform, their uncertainty towards purchasing decreases. Furthermore, products that are from familiar brands also help reduce the perceived risk as the consumer already knows what to expect from a product that he/she is already familiar with.

Making reviews count

It is important to engage customers and community to rate the service of online retailers -   delivery of goods, the ease of ordering groceries through the platform, pricing, availability of groceries, etc.

Reviews are one way of building trust amongst existing users and new users alike to use the platform for their requirements. The more positive the reviews, the more users are likely to purchase through the online grocer.  

Instant Deliveries to instant gratification

Unlike appliances, groceries are mostly perishables and need to be consumed as early as possible. Sometimes, the need for groceries is almost instantaneous and requires delivery at the earliest. One way to make it readily available is strengthening the supply chain and the underlying technology to ensure instant delivery. 

Conclusion

While consumers today still prefer the traditional method of buying groceries, technology is fast catching up to cater to the needs and convenience of the consumer. There is tremendous scope for innovation and increase in grocery technology that can solve the problems for the retailers who want to move online and provide value to consumers. 


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Shop.Org event

IceCream Labs demonstrates Intelligent Data Mesh at Shop.Org

IceCream Labs demonstrates Intelligent Data Mesh at Shop.Org

Las Vegas - Shop.Org, the leading retail event hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) that has been bringing together top retailers across the country, was hosted last Thursday and Friday at  The Venetian in Vegas and brought in yet another excellent cohort of attending companies such as Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, Target etc. The show’s headliner Serena Williams was on stage on Friday, discussing the challenge of being an entrepreneur, a new mom, and a world class athlete, all at the same time. She launched her new fashion line, in collaboration with Nike and HSN, in May.
IceCream Labs, being at the forefront of the retail AI space, was invited to host a booth in their Innovation Lab sector.

The NRF Innovation Lab consisted of 4 segments of the shopping experience, namely - Awareness, Consideration, Engagement, and Logistics & Loyalty. Each of the companies in these segments is focused on creating applications to improve the retail space with the help of  Facial Recognition, Data Analytics, Robotics and Augmented Reality. IceCream Labs was a part of the Awareness segment which showcased products that helped brands retailers entice new customers.

As part of our showcase, we released Intelligent Data Mesh (IDM) which is an AI-based platform that leverages machine learning for unparalleled eCommerce / digital merchandising for brands & retailers. The IDM enables retailers, brands, and suppliers to maximize the potential of digital commerce by bringing in the great experiences in traditional retail, resulting in immediate impacts to revenues and operations. By leveraging the vast amount of product and social data online, using machine learning, merchandising managers & e-commerce managers can now create experiences of dynamic discovery and visual merchandising online.

This release, we are proud to say, won the Innovation Award in the Awareness segment. The judges' panel including some big name VCs and top executives in the retail sector (Full list: https://shop.org/nrf-innovation-awards-exhibitors)

As a result of this award, we are going to be featured at the NRF Big Show in NYC in January 2019, and our CEO, Madhu Konety, will be a keynote speaker.

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E-commerce is moving towards social commerce – How to get it right

E-commerce is moving towards social commerce - How to get it right?

Social commerce is often described as the intersection between social media and e-commerce. While this holds value, there is a lot of traffic with no direction. There’s no doubt that social selling is a powerful and an increasingly influential sales tool.

According to recent BI Intelligence, the top 500 retailers earned an estimated $6.5 billion from social shopping in 2017, up 24% from 2016.

There are various forms that social commerce adorns, from group buying to social shopping; from mobile apps to retailers adding social features, or shopping integrated into social media. All of these forms have one thing in common - the use of social technology to replicate age-old buying models in the digital sphere.

Whether it is girls going shopping together in a store or asking a friend for advice on power tools, moving them to online would result in them having a social commerce experience. Taking another instance of bartering, here, instead of the traditional method of trading goods or services, shoppers are trading personal data such as buying habits and preferences for access to easy shopping portals.

There are social platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram which have incorporated a “Buy now” button that can turn a static image into a product with a click. However, since the story came about how social platforms are using and monetizing user data, there was a certain amount of wariness among the users about sharing their data on these networks.

The key here is to find a model of social commerce that would work the world over. Some of the things to keep in mind -

  • Provide the shoppers the ability to earn credit for sharing their own data and of their social network.
  • Enable retailers to own the relationship with their customers while also providing access to insights and goodwill from happy customers. 
  • Provide every individual the ability to turn into an influencer. 
  • Star
    Using the existing social media networks as a channel to interact with the brand itself.
person using laptop that is showing a webpage of images

How to make it work

Say a user wants to purchase a mobile phone. The ideal route would be to go the website of the retailer of their choice (assuming if the retailer provides a social commerce experience). They can then choose the selection of the models of their favorite mobile phones.

They now post a picture of the phones on their social networks and ask friends to vote on which phone they think the user should buy.

By setting up this vote, the user can then earn shop credits. Their friends who voted for the products can also earn shop credits by that action. In this scenario, there is no prerequisite of having a large social media presence to be valuable for the business. This action inadvertently turns the user into a micro-influencer.

The information gathered during the voting helps the retailer sell more effectively. They learn which of the products is most appealing and have the potential to become hot sellers, and then accordingly manage stock or change how they display their products. They also gain access to an expanded audience. This eventually, helps them to build a relationship with their customers which can help them build brand loyalty.

Summary

Social channels have a major role to play. Besides influencing purchase decisions, social media is a larger part of the product discovery and research phase in the shopping journey.

The next few years will see social commerce expand its influence if it efficiently benefits the consumers and businesses. The world of commerce is on the verge of disruption, thanks to technological innovations, data collection, and social media. If social commerce is achieved correctly, the future of retailers and shoppers will widen.

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How Brick-And-Mortar Stores Can Compete With E-Commerce Businesses

How Brick-And-Mortar Stores Can Compete With E-Commerce Businesses

With every passing year, there is a tremendous increase in online sales, with a majority of brands and retailers taking their business online. While this is true, there is a parallel conversation happening about how the brick and mortar stores are shutting down.

Many big retailers have come in the news about closing their physical locations. Well known brand, Payless ShoeSource closed down about 400 physical stores across the USA and Puerto Rico. Over a year ago, Ralph Lauren announced that they were closing down their leading store in Manhattan as a part of its plan to move towards a new and innovative customer experience.

This movement towards building new and innovative customer experiences have trended towards online shopping which can be done from the comfort of one’s home or via a smartphone. Many retail giants today heavily invest in e-commerce in order to meet the demands of the growing customer needs. With the competition getting tougher year after year, how can the traditional retailers attract customers to their physical stores?

beverage aisle

Creating a simple, fast and friction-free commerce

One thing that online shoppers detest is having to wait for their purchases to arrive (some even have to pay overnight shipping) so, as a brick-and-mortar merchant, the ability to provide instant gratification can stand out. It is a good strategy to work around customers in a neighborhood that the merchant is well known.  This can be done with proper local advertising and an online presence that provides accurate directions to the store.

Traditional retailers often have a more difficult time creating a friction-free environment. While considering the hurdles, they must determine why a customer would decide NOT to make a purchase. They must explore questions such as - is an item not in stock? Are the staff unable to answer questions?

It is imperative to understand the possible pain points and take initiative to alleviate them. If there an item that is out of stock, consider providing a complimentary shipping to the customer’s home, or make proper arrangements so that the staff is able to answer customer questions.

Strengthen customer relationships using social media

Customers today are no longer enticed by discounts and special offers. They are also looking for rewarding shopping experiences. Retailers can engage with their customers by creating a vibrant and interactive social media presence. If the retailer provides kitchen goods, they can share recipes online that the customers can try at home, or provide cooking tips and in-store demos. Leveraging social the right way can help build a tight-knit community for the retailer’s customers.

Creating smarter in-store experiences

There are a number of ways that can change the in-store experience for the customer. Making things easy with clear signs, organized shelving, clear pricing can make a great difference. If the retailer provides gourmet or specialty products, additional descriptive tags can pique customer interest. Furthermore, marrying the in-store presence with the online presence can create an interactive experience for customers as well.

Another critical component while creating a smarter in-store experience is the checkout.  This is last, most important component of the customer’s purchasing journey and the need for it to be smooth and friction free is important. One of the things to keep in mind, for instance, could be ensuring that the technology that the store uses for payment is up to date and secure, which accepts all major credit cards.

A new thing that is taking the brick and mortar stores to another level is the incorporation of mobile point-of-sale solutions so that the customers do not waste time while standing in long queues at checkout.


Brick and mortar stores, contrary to the negative conversations, are far from being irrelevant. By providing unique, shopping experiences that is seamless as shopping online, with the added advantage of providing a personal touch, traditional retailers can maintain their share of the business and combat the growing e-commerce trend by riding on its growth.

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four people looking down at their phones

The Importance of m-commerce in e-commerce

The Importance of m-commerce in e-commerce

We have witnessed the advent of e-commerce and how it quickly became a part of all our lives. With over half of American consumers now doing most of their shopping online (51%), businesses find it crucial to have a web and mobile presence.

Approx. 1.2 billion people are in habit of using their smartphones to access the internet daily. Trinity Digital Marketing publication reports that in the US, nearly half of the population uses smartphones to connect to the internet

Mobile apps are the primary driver of digital media consumption, proving that creating a mobile-friendly website is imperative to ensure the success of the business.

However, creating a website is not the only goal for a business. It has to be an efficient platform that would allow customers to purchase their products. This is the key to increasing sales in tandem with growing the business’ digital footprint. Building a viable e-commerce site that is also optimized for mobile commerce (m-commerce), should be in forefront of the business strategy.

What is M-Commerce?

Simply put, mobile commerce or m-commerce is sales and commerce using wireless hand-held remote devices. These devices can be smartphones, phablets, or tablets. The main concept behind m-commerce is bringing a simple, accessible and user-friendly shopping experience to the consumers.

M-commerce is becoming increasingly popular and e-commerce companies and retailers are slowly moving away from strategies catering to creating awareness about their online stores and moving towards integrating m-commerce in their business strategy.  M-commerce can also be used as a method to enhance overall revenue and increase customer base.

Why is m-commerce important?

M-commerce is one of the major influencers that accelerate business growth. Here are some areas it plays an important role:

The positive impact of Increase in mobile sales

There is a steady increase in the number of mobile users. Now consumers surf the internet via their phones. This generates more than the traffic created with it on the web. The idea of purchasing something on the phone at a time and place of comfort, and having it delivered on the doorstep is a lucrative option for shoppers.

The mobile furthermore is a pocket-friendly device that is available 24/7 for any individual. Any necessity of shopping at any point in time can be satisfied with the mobile instead of hunting for a laptop or using a desktop. Overall, the increase in mobile sales creates a remarkable impact on online shopping which benefits the e-commerce sector.

Phones now have bigger screens - enhancing the shopping experience

Technology is constantly changing and enhancing, as is the competition. Bigger sized phones with larger screens have completely changed how people use mobile phones.

Online shopping is one of the major trends that are set by bigger screens. The comfort with large screens is recognized even with aged people as they can easily use the phone to view products or details easily without having to reach for their eyeglasses.

Innovations resulting in better business

There is a race to provide something new and exciting that the customers would use, ultimately enhancing the user experience. Due to this very race, many brands have started using various innovations as part of their marketing strategy enhancing the user experience.

Single Click Options
On e-commerce sites, buy buttons and checkout options are often the prominent features. With single clicks the site allows the user to complete the user journey fast and efficiently.

AI and Chatbots
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots are some of the latest technical integrations in the mobile phone for a better experience. AI voice assistants and chatbots bring in an ease of shopping. The tedious process of manually typing in product names, searches, address details can be eliminated - All of this, in the palm of the hand.

Capgemini's Unadkat stated that Artificial intelligence and chatbots will be a key area of focus for retailers in the coming years.​​​​​

Web pages and mobile apps are majorly used for online shopping

There are two main ways to reach the remote masses. One way is through mobile web pages, and the other through mobile apps. Both these methods have enhanced e-commerce experience for customers.

Mobile web pages
With a mobile web page, user data analysis becomes easy. Companies can understand and segregate the target customer and market. They can then, go ahead with the changes in the company portal.

Mobile Apps
Mobile apps are used widely by nearly all e-commerce dealers. They are considered more beneficial as the app customers are more loyal as they spare time and put in the effort to download the app. The chances of purchase from these users are very high.
Moreover, online retailers can avail the benefit of personalized communication with their users. Leveraging analytics and purchasing behavior, they can tailor make the promotions and send messages accordingly.

Push Notifications
Retailers use this feature to send updates to the customers for promotional offers. Many other such features have helped the online retailers get a greater grasp on customers.

Social Media Benefits

Social media networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have become a vital part of daily life. Every mobile app company has integrated social media features like share and like with their app and online portal. Mobile users prefer to keep everything from shopping to mobile apps handy. Within no time, they can share updates from online websites on social media.

Future of mobile commerce

More and more consumers are selecting mobiles as a medium to shop rather than laptops or desktops. M-commerce holds a lot of promise for the future.

Business Insider stated that 45% of e-commerce revenue will be coming from m-commerce, by the end of 2020.

While the e-commerce industry is expanding, mobile commerce is not far behind. The innovations will continue to drive the growth of m-commerce. Today, the tech innovations can be seen with the implementation of AR, VR, and wearables, but in the near future, m-commerce will drive innovation to reach new heights.

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iphone with images on the screen

Visual Search: AI tool for E-commerce

Visual Search: AI tool for E-commerce

AI has been empowering many of the world’s top technology solutions. Within e-commerce, AI is being used to make the industry increasingly customer-centric. This can be seen with sales forecasts, product recommendation engines, virtual personal assistants like Siri or Alexa, AI-powered chatbots, automated warehouses, etc.

The need for visual search in e-commerce


Large e-commerce companies offer catalogs with thousands of products and plenty of options. Customers, however, are becoming increasingly impatient during the buying process figuring out what they want to buy in the shortest possible time. This hence poses the question of how to make the search process short and seamless.

In an important use case, AI has enabled search engines to become smarter. This can be seen when using text as a search query, the search becomes more semantic and conversational. AI has also enabled enhanced voice search features. The latest popular feature being search via images.

A new way of search

E-commerce companies are investing largely in integrating all three search methods on their websites to make a more responsive search platform. With text and voice search being increasingly used for products such as electronics, visual search aids customers to find an easier alternative for fashion and lifestyle products which may be difficult to describe with words. For instance, when searching for outfits worn by celebrities, knowing the right keywords would provide the outfits that are indexed with those keywords. Most often than not, the right outfit is not found. With visual search combined with indexed images, the right outfit can be found in just a click!

Today, visual search has increased the level of engagement that customers have with e-commerce websites as well as offline retailers. Be it for searching a product page online or being provided with relevant product recommendations, smartphone apps are becoming more accurate and faster at predicting the customer needs.

Visual search has created new shopping experiences for online and offline retail stores. Customers can now scan images of their choice of products whether it is online or in a store. Providing relevant and accurate product results will ensure that users can shop from anywhere and at any time.

AI and visual search: The tech

Visual search is a very recent trend, and this has been possible only due to the recent advancement in this technology. Visual search is built using Deep Neural Networks, a subset of machine learning. This in fact built as a replica of the neural networks in the human brain.  To put it simply, Deep Neural Networks make machines intelligent to gather and categorize information in the form of text, images or videos like humans do, using their biological neural network.

For example, To make a machine understand a sofa using deep learning, it is first shown pictures of thousand sofas. The algorithm reads and extracts features that can collectively classify a sofa such as a backrest, armrest, cushions, etc. After this, if a new image of a sofa is shown, the machine would be able to now tell if the image has a sofa or not.

Furthermore, if a complete picture of a living room is shown, the machine can individually identify different objects that it has been trained via deep neural networks such as rocking chair, coffee table, rugs, side table, etc. This technology is very adaptive - it recognizes a user’s search pattern so as to provide accurate purchase predictions.

Deep learning technology, providing accurate results can ensure that users find exactly what are searching for, in a short search span. This helps enhance user experiences, which in turn, leads to an increase in conversion rates. Neural networks and deep learning provide the best solutions to problems being faced in image recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing.

Visual search has become one of the most successful technological innovations in e-commerce and retail, in turn, boosting the effectiveness on a global scale.
With the tremendous emphasis on digitization and the rising economy, this holds a strong promise.

Today, companies are looking for product differentiation through tech and visual search advancements offer just what they are looking for.

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Personalization: The future of e-commerce

Personalization and recommendations: The future of e-commerce

Commerce has evolved over the span of 100 years. Over the century, it went from being driven by demographics in the 1890s - with retail catalogs offering a limited product selection to being driven by brands in 1990s - with stores and malls offering a rising product selection. With the advent of the world wide web, commerce was driven utility - with the rise of now e-commerce giants eBay and Amazon. In the 2010s, data began taking over as the driving trend.

The current trend

An indication of data-driven e-commerce are personalized e-commerce offering, curated product discovery and 24/7 recommendations. Many e-commerce and retail companies now have incorporated some level of personalization whilst engaging with their customers.

 The best examples can be seen with websites like Netflix - from the time a customer watches their first movie or show, Netflix’s algorithm starts working. They have been so successful at tracking customer preferences that they are spending almost 8 million dollars to keep up with the demand. They’re even using e-commerce personalization to affect the graphics for their shows.  Customers can get to see one of many different graphics of a show based on their preferences that Netflix knows about.

Another example on the other spectrum would be Subscription boxes like Stitch Fix, a personalized style service. Using the preferences provided by the user, Stitch Fix would deliver the best 5 items to suit them in the comfort of their own homes. Based on what customers keep and what they return, they personalize the clothes even further.

wooden box filled with condiments

Personalisation completely relies on data gathering to be effective, which depends on the customers as they have to be willing to trust and share their information with a brand. The brand can then, enhance their experience and engagement using this data. It becomes a win-win situation when carried out efficiently, the use of data will correlate positively with customer satisfaction.


While this is the current scenario of how companies are using some elements of personalization today, here are some predictions about how personalization will play a more substantial role in the near future.

The rise in Subscription services

Customers are slowly evolving from product purchases to subscribing. This is due to the rise in personalization - the leading factors driving the growth of subscription-based services. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that subscription services are the future of e-commerce or at least a big portion of it.   

Digital subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or even Spotify are now the driving our entertainment consumption, while retail subscription services like Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix have started becoming more and more popular among consumers.

We have already demonstrated with Netflix, how personalization is breaking ground, another example could be Spotify, with their paid subscribers rose from 0% in 2008 at its launch to 45% in 2017. In other words, if a service is available for free, yet its paid counterpart is providing a better and compelling experience, consumers will not hesitate to invest.

wooden box with bath supplies

Spotify uses personalization to effectively nurture its recommendation engine - which provides daily discoveries of music based on a user's preference of songs, artists, genres, etc. This has not only increased the app preference amongst users but also increased the exposure of new artists enlisting their albums & singles on the platform.

Automation to support omnichannel marketing

Automation and personalization largely go hand in hand.
In the next few years, automation will play a massive role especially with the growth of omnichannel marketing. A study conducted by The Harvard Business Review among 46,000 shoppers in the span of a year stated that only 7% of that group solely shopped online, 20% shopped solely in stores and a whopping 73% shopped using multiple channels.

Omnichannel marketing has challenges yet tremendous opportunities that companies will be able to leverage to utilize automation in the near future and the companies that would be able to leverage it would only be those that can efficiently utilize automation so as to offer personalization across all channels.

Personalised deals and pricing

Shoppers today not only differ on what they want to buy but also on what they would be willing to pay for. Traditionally, companies had to study different price ranges so they would pick on what would give them the most profit, even if this meant that they’d turn down potential customers.

This is now slowly changing. Personalisation is giving way for companies to charge individual shoppers. For instance, Orbitz used to charge Mac users more - based on the assumption that that demographic tended to have more spending power. Hence, it stood to reason that they were willing to pay more.

With the advent of AI and machine learning, companies in the future will easily be able to get into the granular details. This, in turn, will enable more people to get the products and services that they require at an accurate price point based on their past buying decisions. This approach will help e-commerce companies to build attractive bundles or tailor-made promotions for individuals.

AI and Machine Learning

Leveraging AI and machine learning, personalization can scale new heights by anticipating customer support needs before they even have them.

Furthermore, machine learning will also change the language that websites use based on the visitors it gets. In a scenario where a user needs help, machine learning would allow the site to find the best answers based on the information instead of the standard replies that most websites give now.

If the site knows that a returning shopper is looking for some products with respect to a previous purchase, they will be able to recommend the best products but also further provide them with relevant content that would help them make the purchase.

Looking ahead

E-commerce personalization is already here, so if retail or e-commerce businesses have not utilized it yet, they must start now. With more and more innovations coming in, the horizons are widening day by day. These predictions can ensure that your business is on the right path towards personalization.

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How can AI improve SEO for retailers?

How can AI improve SEO for retailers?

Drafting creative SEO strategies is a crucial point for retailers. Having rich data like clear images, or detailed product descriptions is imperative as the content is one of the main traffic drivers for e-commerce portals. Implementing the right product description strategies can impact and enhance site searches and increase sales.

Images play a pivotal role

Site searches and site data are directly related. This means that if the site contains poor data, the results received will be insufficient and may not meet visitor expectations. Consumers are more willing to engage with content that includes relevant images, and hence mapping images to rich attributes is important so that the relevant results appear on the website. This would show products that would better interest the customer.

This is especially important for e-commerce businesses because the product overview and its appearance play a very important role during a purchase. A research even shows that over 90% of consumers consider that the images play an important role during the purchase journey.

Automated descriptions are accurate descriptions

Many consumers when searching to find a specific product, often get irritated when the results show irrelevant products. For instance, while searching for a “little black dress”, maxi dresses in the results should not show up.

Search engines rank images against several factors. These include file name, the captions provided with the image, the alt tags, how the product is categorized, etc.

AI solutions based on image recognition have started to gain momentum. They help generate deeper and accurate attributes from product pictures in an automated manner.  These solutions are based upon recognizing the shape and size of objects. In terms of fashion, this can help in identifying clothing - the type of clothing (shirt, blouse, jumpsuit), the color, its fabric (denim, lace, cotton), the patterns (stripes, chevron, floral) and its shape (short sleeved, cowl neck, etc.)

The aim of this solution is to function in a similar manner to that of a human brain. The AI solutions can classify and extract very specific information from an image. From a product provided by a customer, the machine uses algorithms to recognize specific patterns and arrive at certain conclusions. It also utilizes patterns from previous experiences, as a way to learn by itself.

Homogenizing product attributes and categorization

Loading products onto the website along with each product categorization can be extremely time-consuming. If this is done manually, there is a chance that typing errors or duplicate entries in categorization may happen. These mistakes can highly affect SEO rankings, as Google factors in linguistic accuracy and classification.

Furthermore, the more specific and descriptive the product attributes are, the easier the task becomes to match long tail searches and provide relevant products to the users entering a search query.

woman looking at two different computer screens

Powerful and intuitive image recognition AI solutions help to avoid categorization mistakes and provide richer attributes. This makes online catalog management efficient and enables search engines to find appropriate products - ultimately, enhancing product discoverability with automated content.  


Leveraging AI and machine learning capabilities, CatalogIQ can help your e-commerce or retail business by strengthening your content and improve your search rankings.

Are you looking for boosting your e-commerce business? At Icecream Labs, we aim to provide solutions for your business problems. To know more on how AI can impact your business you can get in touch on LinkedIn, or mail us — sales@icecreamlabs.com

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