After the close of 2016, it’s time for us to look back on the year and make resolutions for the new year. My new year’s resolution is always the same: to eat healthier (and that resolution always goes right out the window when the Valentine’s Day candy starts to appear!) Aside from our personal resolutions, businesses are also making changes and resolutions moving into 2017; and here at Monetate, it’s no different.
As Monetate looks toward an exciting year ahead, there’s one thing that seems to be a recurring topic around the ecommerce industry: Artificial Intelligence (AI). While ecommerce companies have been talking about AI for some time, it seems as if the promise of technology-enabled decision-making is coming to fruition.
I recently came across the article “5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping the Future of Ecommerce” on Entrepreneur.com, by Sheila Eugenio. The article paints AI as the wave of the future for ecommerce and I couldn’t agree more. The article includes a fantastic quote by Antoine Blondeau, CEO of Sentient Technologies, who said, “Five years from now, we’ll see AI take a bigger role in making decisions, creating preemptive solutions, and delivering insights. Society will become much more efficient as a result. Think logistics, ecommerce, healthcare, finance — in all these domains and others we will start to see massive gains from AI. We’ll be able to leverage AI systems to help get things to where they need to go faster and cheaper, we’ll be able to enable people to see and buy things they weren’t even aware existed or even knew they wanted.”
Eugenio describes some amazing ways that machine learning, a type of AI, can impact the ecommerce industry in the near future, including how it will impact personalization. Eugenio quotes Akash Bhatia, CEO of Infinite Analytics, who said, “Personalization is a multi-dimensional problem. A lot of information gathered on shopping habits is very subtle, requiring a lot of data to be analyzed for proper personalization. With deep learning algorithms, online retailers can continuously learn every new signal as it gets uncovered to showcase personalized products better.” Here at Monetate, we understand how important it is to be aware of these “new signals,” as they help us drive toward true 1-to-1 personalization.
What’s important about machine learning in ecommerce is the potential impact on customer experience, which I can relate to both professionally and personally. As an avid online shopper (who isn’t these days?), I was interested in imagining how my personal shopping experience will change with the progression of AI in the ecommerce space. The allure of shopping online with a brand that knows me, my preferences and caters to me is real – and it would make my life SO MUCH easier. And, as a professional, I understand the exciting things that are coming from Monetate in 2017 that are powered by machine learning.
Since my job at Monetate involves talking to customers, I think an important aspect that the article didn’t cover is why AI advancements are so important to the ecommerce marketer. All too often, I talk with a customer who tells me that they are on the path to providing more personalized experiences for the customer. These folks typically spend a fair amount of time testing different approaches in order to optimize results they’re getting. They’ve also created segments aligned with buyer personas and are targeting experiences at those segments.
This approach becomes frustrating at times because, while it can help improve results, it quickly becomes unwieldy to manage. Too many segments, too many tests, too many variations of experiences can overwhelm the already busy marketer who probably already has 40 hours of meetings on his or her calendar.
Enter AI. Technology that can be driven by marketers and significantly scale the impact the marketer has over the audience they’re trying to reach solves for a lot of that pain. Now, THAT is exciting! And it is a win-win because it helps the brand and the brands’ customers be more successful in their quest, both at the same time.
So, whether you are an ecommerce marketer looking to drive higher conversions, or you’re a consumer that just need to find a top to match those pants; one thing is for sure, machine learning is here to stay and is paving the way for a bright 2017!