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AI Is The Best Present For Retailers This Holiday Shopping Season

AI Is The Best Present For Retailers This Holiday Shopping Season

Brands are undergoing massive digital transformations of their own in order to keep pace with the growing demands and expectations. The customer of today is constantly connected to whichever device is closest at hand, and are using mobile devices as a means to solve real-world problems. Some of the queries naturally pivot towards local results such as - ‘where to get party costumes’, or ‘best Korean restaurants near me’.

For retailers, however, consumers are willing to wait for delivery if the price or quality of a particular product is better online. E-commerce provides the convenience of home delivery, free shipping options, and the ease of using voice-activated speaking assistants to accomplish shopping tasks due to which consumers are increasingly moving towards shopping online. Early AI adopters are already reaping the benefits such as gaining better understanding and visibility into their customers and increased productivity.

With the holiday shopping season beginning this week, here are some AI-powered applications retailers can leverage to create memorable customer shopping experiences.

Implementing AI-powered Chatbots to pave the way for meaningful shopping experiences

Initially, chatbots were programmed to execute a specific of queries and responses, but with enhancements in technology and AI, these bots are enabled to “learn” the site’s content and consumer preferences. This further helps them to bring back relevant answers and supplying potential customers with the right information.

This service element can be taken a step further with AI-powered shopping assistants. This was seen with Macy’s On Call - an AI shopping assistant leveraging Natural Language Processing designed to aid consumers with information in 10 of Macy’s retail stores around the country, as they navigated through each one. This is a viable direction for retailers to look into in the future. 

Optimizing the site content for voice search queries

As voice search grows, retailers are tailoring content enabling them to better answer queries and also demonstrate to search engines that their answers are the best choice to showcase as results. Voice searches are more likely to be from mobile consumers who are only looking for simple answers and don’t want to engage in lengthy interactions.

Retailers must create a strategy that maps the content through the customer journey with intent, context, and formatting for voice search. Furthermore, retailers must keep in mind to take a personalized approach, using a more personalized tone, mirroring back specific questions and limiting the answers to a sentence or two in order to better optimize for voice searches.


Combating abandoned carts with AI-powered shopping experiences

Shopping cart abandonment is an industry-wide problem. It is estimated that a whopper of 70%
online shopping carts are abandoned before customers complete their purchases.

A great application in this space can be seen with North Face which personalizes the customer experience by creating a psychoanalytic profile of customer data in near real-time. North Face’s AI assistant asks questions to understand how customers plan to use their apparel and then provides ranked product suggestions which save both effort and time for customers from browsing different websites to get the right product for their requirement.

AI can help make informed recommendations that reduce the uncertainty consumers feel while shopping for a specific product, thereby increasing their confidence and the likelihood of them proceeding through checkout. 

Stepping forward with AI in the future

With AI slowly becoming the new norm in the world of e-commerce and retail, several numbers of brands and retailers are increasingly adopting technological tools into their business processes and strategies. The concern of consumers over the safety and security of shopping online - which was a major concern for brands and retailers up until a few years ago, have given way to demands for more seamless, intuitive and personalized shopping experiences.

Retailers that have not adopted AI into their businesses, and are trying to understand ways to tap into the opportunities provided by AI, the holiday season is the best time to demonstrate these applications to help gather data to pave the way for the future.

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Kicking off Black Friday and Holiday Shopping with Artificial Intelligence

Kicking off Black Friday and Holiday Shopping with Artificial Intelligence

US retailers are making final preparations for Black Friday in both their physical and digital stores to support the expectation of high volume shoppers. 2018 holiday sales are estimated to climb between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 to between $717.45 and $720.89 billion – all due to the rising health of the economy, low employment records, and increasing wage margins.

While the economy has been improving over the past year, technology has also been making progress – both online and offline. This is especially seen with making more personalized recommendations through the use of AI and machine learning.

AI-Driven Personalization takes priority

With retailers increasingly leaning towards AI and utilizing AI-driven platforms, they are choosing more sophisticated platforms to make more personalized recommendations for their customers, ultimately increasing revenues for retailers and brands.
Some studies even concluded that brands that invest in creating personalized experiences leveraging advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for customers see a bump in their revenue by 6% to 10% – two times faster than those brands that don’t.

For the holiday season, and the upcoming Black Friday shopping, AI can be a wonderful tool used to automate the process of helping online and offline shoppers find what they want to shop for. Shoppers often have trouble finding a memorable gift for friends and family, but do not have a clear starting point – this may need browsing extensively through different e-commerce websites and searching through several aisles in different stores to find the right gift.

AI simplifies this process by giving retailers and brands the ability to ask their customers questions about their gift recipients and offering personalized recommendations based on individual tastes and preferences.
The use of AI-driven personalization for e-commerce channels has increased over the past few years, but according to experts, the future of AI is limitless – especially in the physical store. Furthermore, the future physical retail is believed to be a mix of the speed and convenience offered by AI with a human touch.

Customers want to be engaged through human interaction rather than special effects using light and sound, so retailers can do well to create community events and use data to offer personalized in-store experiences.

In-store Personalization to Support Retail Employees

As more and more technology is being integrated into the store environment, retailers need to move towards an autonomous management reducing the dependency on manual management by store staff. Recent studies even predicted retailers providing in-store recommendations to shoppers through AI engines to be the most mainstream in-store technology in the coming years.

Though AI is often pegged as a technology of the future, it’s a concept that is slowly taking shape and is not too far into the future. AI capabilities enable retailers to pursue customer personalization in real time – which will soon become a top priority becoming important for shoppers. The capability to display prices and promotions, which are subject to change, also coincides with the concept of a more personalized consumer-friendly store.

Conclusion

As we approach Black Friday – the official kick-off for the holiday shopping season, it will be interesting to see in which ways retailers and brands will leverage AI into their shopping strategies this holiday season. While personalized offers and promotions to enhance shopper loyalty will definitely be in the mix in the months of November and December, retailers can also take advantage of the data they receive to encourage repeat business throughout 2019.

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gift bags for the holiday season

Boosting Online Sales for the Holiday Season

Boosting Online Sales for the Holiday Season

With the holidays being around the corner, the countdown has already begun on the numerous sales across all retailers and brands. A growing number of shoppers are avoiding stores and are increasingly embracing e-commerce to shop for gifts due to which prospects for online sales are looking up.

Here are five strategies that companies can focus on to break through the holiday shopping noise and score bigger online sales this season:

Using relevant imagery and information 

Displaying holiday-themed, creative and shoppable images, with product images from different angles as well as using video to showcase products creates more impact as it delivers a more immersive experience, in turn, increasing engagement. Personalized recommendations of products also stimulate interest and likelihood for a purchase.

Key purchasing elements about the products also need to be clear and precise, including the pricing and shipping options, which plays an important role at this time of the year.

Selling uncomplicated and useful products 

Shoppers must not be given too much choice and time to make a purchasing decision. Companies must choose products in such a manner in which it would tap into the shoppers' desires for products and that has the potential to enrich their lives. The best impulse purchases are the ones that shoppers don't regret - and the ones that are exciting, easy, and fairly universal.

Companies need to ensure that the products that are being offered answers a need for shoppers. It can be a gift for large groups such as all boys under 12, or a makeup palette that can compliment every skin tone, etc.  

Keeping the purchasing process simple 

The purchasing process refers to the technology (one-click purchase), fulfillment (free shipping), convenience (returns policy), and the driving factor - product content. During this season, impulse purchases happen more often, and in order to encourage shoppers to make a purchase, the product copy should be presented in a manner such that the shopper does not have any questions about the product, with the product copy being clear and concise, ratings and reviews being well presented with all the information up front.

Increasing visibility by diversifying platforms

In the digital sphere, one can not be sure where a shopper can come from, hence repetition is required. Showing products across various platforms and devices also help create brand recall for the shoppers and increasing the possibility of shoppers purchasing products. Retailers and brands can also depend on banner ads as they utilize “since you viewed” algorithms to feature adjacent products.

Informing shoppers on how much they will save

Shoppers would lean towards offers that allow them to save time or money - especially where gifting is concerned. Most shoppers choose to take advantage of a value deal while making purchases, especially during an impulse purchase. For digital, product copy should mention seasonal pricing or special gifts with the purchase, or free shipping. The information must be presented to the shopper clearly, but also with the mention of value to seal the deal.

Related e-commerce articles:

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