It is fair to say that ecommerce has come a long way in the last few years. What once seemed like a pipedream has come into existence, with many people shopping entirely from the comfort of their own homes. Business owners who never thought they would leave the brick-and-mortar storefront behind have made the choice to sell online, now that creating an ecommerce site is so easy anyone can do it.
If you look at how a company like Amazon is ticking along, you might start to believe that we have come as far as we needed to go with online shopping. It’s convenient and affordable, and products arrive on time. What more could you need?
Well, AI is currently improving at a rapid rate. The closer AI has gotten to human thinking, the better able to evolve itself it has become. With AI which works as it is supposed to, the online shopping experience is set to change dramatically. You may not even have thought of some of the ways that technology can make your life easier.
Having difficulty getting your head around it? Let’s look at some of the most fundamental ways in which AI will change online shopping.
Some virtual assistants are close to evolving into a personal shopper. AI is starting to change the way we shop by doing everything for us. There are certain things we need on a regular basis which you can already get your virtual assistant to buy for you. AI is far better at identifying the best value for money and ensuring we don’t run out of important products.
But AI is going to take it further than simply refreshing our stocks of toilet paper. Rather, in conjunction with machine learning, it will soon anticipate our needs in multiple aspects of life. At the moment, our devices know a lot about our habits, but in the future they will know even more about our physical existence.
In the near future, the data collected by smart watches and similar devices will advise us on what we need for our own wellbeing. AI shopping will ensure we get whatever our bodies need when we need them.
One of the difficulties of online shopping is the lack of staff available to help us. While online chats on ecommerce stores are helpful, staff juggling multiple clients may not make the best customer service decisions. They certainly don’t have time to advise us with sales decisions.
AI is already beginning to do most of the legwork. Even the smallest online stores now have AI chatbots that can help you with regular issues. They are, however, still fairly limited. That may change soon as AI begins to think more like humans. Instead of giving copy/paste answers, it will process our needs and find a solution more quickly than any human could.
Ecommerce stores will also start using AI to make sales. AI will be able to take your personal needs into account and find the best product for you. This is already becoming useful in the world of cosmetics, where people struggle to find the right shades online. AI is gradually getting the ability to assess skin color and calculate the best shade available.
Returns are a huge issue in the ecommerce realm. The reality is that, particularly with clothing, we are more likely to return something we are not able to try in person. In fact, statistics suggest that between 20% and 30% of all clothing purchases online get returned. This is in contrast to a mere 8% of in-store purchases.
Virtual fitting rooms using augmented reality (AR) have had mixed results. Most online stores do not have technology sophisticated enough to do more than superimpose a piece of clothing onto your body or an avatar. AI will change that. Using knowledge of your measurements and the measurements of a garment, it will be able to process exactly how an item may not work for you. A pair of pants that is perfect at the waist may not be a good fit around your thighs. AI will recognize this and find alternative options for you.
Returns are not just an inconvenience. If a warehouse is outside of your region, shipping costs can be expensive. Sending something back to a store immediately doubles your shipping costs on an item you no longer even own. Most stores burden the customer with this responsibility, which is what makes many people hesitant about buying from overseas. Customs complicates the matter even further.
By minimizing returns, AI will thereby facilitate online shopping for people who would otherwise be reluctant to buy this way. Going to a mall will no longer be the best way to find a good fit.
These are just some of the fundamental ways in which AI will change online shopping. We can expect to see some of these developments in the very-near future.