The e-retail arena is more competitive than it’s ever been, and businesses need advanced solutions to stay relevant to your customer and drive sales.
By Helen Cartright
Over recent years, there have been trends circulating the online retail space that is responsible for the incredible success of many eCommerce businesses. These include AI-powered approaches to improving customer convenience and experience as well as to helping retailers compete more profitably.
Find out why these trends are so popular, and how they are reshaping the online retail space.
Thanks to the power of technology, you can now tailor your marketing efforts and advertising to individual preferences and tastes. With data around customer online behaviour and habits now available, it’s becoming easier to provide customers with a personalised shopping experience.
You can utilise this in many ways. For example, you may select products that individual has expressed interest in and display them at the top of your catalogue. Or, you may target couples who have an upcoming anniversary with Facebook advertising.
Of course, retailers have already begun recommending products and product categories based on recent browsing behaviour, which has resulted in much higher conversion rates. Geo-location tagging, personalized offers to returning visitors, and customizable navigation are some other examples.
With AI-driven personalization engines get better and better with time, delivering personalized shopping experiences will soon be table stake features of any eCommerce website.
Image Analytics using Computer Vision
Using machine-learning-based algorithms modern Computer Vision can process an image and label its attributes with constantly improving accuracy. This is particularly useful in fashion retail. Essentially, it can see an image of a person and accurately identify each item of clothing they are wearing.
This helps retailers better understand their product assortment relative to their competitors at greater depth, as well as track trending product features that are not necessarily called out in the text of a product catalogue listing.
If someone is browsing on social media and sees celebrities or influencers wearing an outfit that they like, they would search for the product feature that attracted them the most, such as colour, collar type, sleeve length, fabric, etc. If you use Computer Vision to tag all products in your listings comprehensively, the search would throw out more appropriate and accurate results to your shoppers. You can also use this to target individuals with adverts displaying your similar products.
Another example is if a customer is browsing an item that is out of stock, the retailer can suggest other similar products. That way, you retain your customers rather than losing them to another vendor.
Computer Vision is time-saving and alleviates a lot of the challenges retailers face, such as keeping up with trends and customer retention.
Responsive omni-channel customer support
In the modern e-retail world, everything is instantaneous and shopping processes are efficient. It makes sense, then, that customers should also demand instant customer support.
Omni-channel is a multi-channelled sales approach to ensure top quality customer experience. It works to seamlessly connect all of your business’ channels – on and off-line – so that they work in conjunction with each other and provide a unified experience. It has been found that 9 out of 10 retail customers now expect a consistent response across all social media channels. If your business cannot provide this enhanced support, you may risk losing customers.
An example of an Omni channel customer experience is the “order online and pick up in store” option that many businesses offer. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have become committed to developing their unbeatable customer service strategy through Omni channel processes.
Pricing Intelligence, Product Assortment and Promotional Insights
For the first time, retailers are now capable of evaluating their online performance in comparison to their competitors. Through AI-powered retail intelligence tools, a business can have an overview of the marketplace’s fluctuating ecosystem – pricing, product assortment and variation, trends, promotions and discounts, reviews and ratings, and stock levels.
AI technologies can analyse data on an enormous scale and can detect and report relevant changes in pricing and product assortment as they happen. This is important because with this intelligence businesses can keep abreast of any changes to product pricing or variation that could have a direct impact on their sales.
For example, retail intelligence tools can notify a business when a product in their catalogue is being sold by another retailer at a more competitive price. That business could then quickly alter the price of their own product to either match or beat their competitors’ to risk losing customers. After all, customers care less about where they are purchasing a product from and more about getting it for a cheaper price. Price is the key motivator for driving sales, and if your customer can get something elsewhere for cheaper, they will.
When you become aware of price alterations (which could be as frequent as once every hour), your next movements depend on your own strategy – e.g. the competitor in question, the price at which you’re willing to drop your products to and any promotions you have planned. AI-powered retail tools can also help you to indicate whether a trend is a catalyst to your competitors’ catalogue fluctuations and whether that trend is worth chasing.
Retail intelligence tools can help you highlight gaps in your product assortment as well, ones that could be costing you sales and, likewise, gaps in your competitors’ product catalogue that you can take advantage of. If you see that a competitor has an “out of stock” sign on their product, you can then push your own product variation to attract their customers. This is incredibly beneficial in the lead-up to massive shopping periods, i.e. Black Friday and Christmas.
The online retail space is being reshaped, but the game is still simple: to boost your business’ online visibility and drive more sales, you need to know as much about your customers as possible to provide a better service and about your competitors to one-up them. Luckily, these new tools and trends allow for just that, so it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are yielding incredible results by leveraging them.
Helen Cartwright is a passionate blogger, who excels in the Digital Marketing and Technology niche. When not wired in marketing strategies she ghost-write for a variety of authors who have their work published on leading online media channels such as The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com.