In the past decade, we’ve seen incredible advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) methods. These technologies have permeated nearly every industry, and now underlie a vast array of conveniences that we often take for granted, ranging from the curation of our social media feeds to the diagnosis of medical conditions
It’s no surprise then that AI is also starting to play a role in eCommerce. It has become a key tool in developing more effective search algorithms for ecommerce platforms.
Search engines are an essential tool for eCommerce businesses - they are the primary interaction between users and your online store. While you can't give every customer their own personal shopper, with AI your search engines can get pretty close.
50% of eCommerce businesses are actively working on deploying AI as a core solution for their business. That number is only going to grow as AI becomes more refined and widely adopted.
And it’s not just the big guys who are seeing results. Small and medium-sized businesses are also using AI to power their online retail ventures, and they’re seeing significant benefits as well.
So, how exactly is AI being used to improve eCommerce search algorithms? And how does it work? Let’s take a closer look.
AI-enhanced search will benefit your business
1. Understanding user behavior
With the power of AI, you can track the customer's journey from the time they enter a query to the time they convert. Semantic search takes all this customer information into account and provides search results that understand the user’s needs, irrespective of how they word their query.
Additionally, understanding user behavior can help you improve the overall customer experience on your eCommerce site. By using AI to track how users interact with your site, you can identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes.
- What makes a user more likely to click on a product?
- What type of search results are most likely to lead to a purchase?
- What is the customer's journey from the initial query to the final purchase?
These are all critical questions that can be answered with data. And AI is being used more and more to analyze this data and understand user behavior.
Understanding user intent is essential for any business, but it’s vital for eCommerce businesses. By using AI-powered search you can ensure that your customers have a positive experience on your site and are more likely to convert.
Take the Japanese brand Rakuten for example, the company uses AI to analyze its products, segment customers, and forecast sales with an extremely high degree of accuracy. This allows them to offer each customer a personalized shopping experience.
2. Continuous and autonomous learning
AI-powered search algorithms are constantly learning. They get better and better over time as they are exposed to more data. That means that the benefits you see today will only continue to grow in the future.
For example, AI can track changes in customer behavior over time to anticipate their needs. And then sort results based on what’s most likely to be relevant to the customer.
So, you never have to worry about whether or not your customers are seeing the latest and greatest from your business.
3. Suggesting personalized recommendations
Personalized results are essential for any eCommerce business that wants to stay competitive. Personalization is a powerful way of providing top-of-the-line customer service and driving conversions, yet it's rarely utilized to the fullest extent due to the high costs. Strikingly, only 15% of retailers say they’ve implemented personalization across all channels.
With AI, you can automatically provide your customers with highly relevant product recommendations based on their purchase history, search history, and even the items they have in their shopping cart. You won’t have to worry about marketing to cold leads. The AI will do the work for you.
By analyzing a user’s browsing and purchase history, AI can predict what they’re looking for and show them relevant results. This provides a much better user experience, as it ensures that users only see results that are of interest to them.
Personalization is powerful; 35% of Amazon’s annual sales are based on personalized recommendations made using AI. That's nearly $165 billion in sales for 2021 made possible through the help of AI.
4. Providing Visual & Voice-Based Search Experiences
We are moving into an age where searches are no longer limited to text. Both visual and voice-based search experiences are powered by AI, which is why they’re so effective. AI-powered search will provide a more convenient and user-friendly experience for your customers.
With visual search, a customer could take a picture of a dress they like and upload it to your site. The AI-powered search engine would then analyze the image and return results for similar dresses.
Voice-based search is also becoming increasingly popular as it allows users to simply speak their queries into a mobile device or smart speaker. Data from Pew Research suggests that nearly a quarter of customers prefer AI-based voice search over typing.
6. Automate product categorization
Are you still generating product categories manually? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of businesses are still using this time-consuming and error-prone method.
With AI, you can automatically categorize your products based on their characteristics. By analyzing product data (title, description, images, etc.), AI can accurately categorize products with little to no human intervention.
Proper product categorization is important for two main reasons. Firstly, when your store visitors use category-based queries (e.g. ‘leather shoes’, ‘athletic wear’, etc.), they should only see search results belonging to that category. Secondly, the category of a product determines the kinds of facets that are relevant to that product (e.g. ‘tonnage’ might be a relevant facet for air conditioners, but not for tables). Thus, automating such categorization leads to a better search experience for visitors.
AI will power the retail future
The new age of eCommerce is here; AI is a major game-changer that will revolutionize the eCommerce landscape. AI is an incredibly cost-effective way to improve your search algorithms and provide a better user experience. Utilizing the power of AI to its fullest is key to staying ahead of the competition.