4 Essential Ways to Incorporate AI in Your Ecommerce Store

Joe Warnimont

4 Essential Ways to Incorporate AI in Your Ecommerce Store

Joe Warnimont
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Will Smith in “I, Robot” experienced the wrath of artificial intelligence gone wrong. Yet, he also found a friend in a robot that developed true human emotion and helped him fight his way out of the debacle. 

We hear about artificial intelligence, or AI, on the news, and it often has to do with creating robots that move, talk and even think like humans. So, does artificial intelligence in ecommerce mean that robots are managing your website, packaging products and delivering them to doorsteps? 

Somewhat. But not quite. 

What is Artificial Intelligence?

AI has been around since the later part of World War II when mathematician Alan Turing began asking whether or not machines were able to think like humans. His paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence examined how computer science could make human thinking in machines a possibility, and it launched the overall vision of AI that many technology companies rely on. 

So, what exactly is it? 

At its most basic, AI involves the branch of computer science that aims to replicate human movements and thoughts in machines. Does this mean the machines actually think like humans? Not necessarily. At least not right now. 

An image of a human brain and robot
Image Source: Visual Hunt

Instead, studies and inventions in the artificial intelligence field have constructed machines and robots that utilize tools like databases, sensors and computer chips to reproduce how a human would act. 

Some quick examples include online bots responding to questions, robots walking and computers beating the most experienced human chess players. 

How Does AI Fit into the Ecommerce World?

The benefits and possibilities of AI in ecommerce are seemingly endless. Physical robots aren’t currently sitting in chairs handling customer service, but there are definitely machines being used to package products and ship them off to customers. 

Amazon is an excellent example of this, as it utilizes a wide range of machines to sort, package and label purchases in unison with human workers. Amazon has also made an attempt to launch automated drones that fly to houses and drop off packages. 

This type of AI in ecommerce is extreme, but there are plenty of examples of artificial intelligence that “normal” ecommerce brands can, and already are, using to make processes more efficient. 

The primary benefits of incorporating AI in ecommerce include the following:

  • Collecting feedback and improving product development 
  • Automating workflows
  • Identifying new ways to improve profits and locate new markets
  • Making better decisions with the use of statistics 
  • Offering constant customer service
  • Saving time on processes for humans to work on other projects 
  • Cutting costs 

This, of course, is a sample of what can be done with artificial intelligence. It’s exciting to see what else can be achieved and what to expect in the future. 

Ways to Incorporate AI in Your Ecommerce Store

We’ve already touched on a few examples of how AI may work in conjunction with an ecommerce store, but now it’s time to dive a bit deeper. Here, we’ll explore some of the most popular instances of ecommerce AI. In particular, we want to mainly talk about ecommerce AI that:

  • Is currently being used by reputable companies 
  • Actually works well
  • Has plugins or apps for all ecommerce owners to implement in their stores 

Keep reading to learn about the best ways to incorporate AI in your ecommerce store. 

AI Chatbots

An AI chatbot is a communication box on a website that is primarily run with the use of artificial intelligence.

Many online stores have chat boxes where a customer can quickly talk to a customer support representative. Before chatbots, these boxes would have had a human representative on the other end messaging back and forth with the customer. 

gobot online store features a communication with a chatbot
Image Source: Gobot

However, many apps have emerged that allow companies to replace or supplement these customer support reps with AI bots. 

An Oracle survey suggests that 80% of online stores will be implementing chatbots in 2020. Only time will tell if this prediction will become a reality, but the point is that chatbots are one of the most prevalent uses of AI in ecommerce. 

Some of the reasons for the rapid adoption rate include the following:

  • Chatbots allow companies to have a presence on multiple chatting platforms, not just the primary website. For instance, chatbots are used on Facebook Messenger, where many potential customers spend time. 
  • They present the opportunity to provide 24/7 customer service on the chat module. In short, the human customer service reps can go to sleep while still giving customers some sort of assistance. 
  • Chatbots can often deliver faster, more accurate details about products. 
  • Companies are able to proactively contact browsing customers instead of waiting for users to ask questions. 
  • You’re able to cut down on costs by reducing the need for human workers or by eliminating the need for complicated cross-platform apps. 
  • Chatbots connect with international customers by speaking in different languages and being awake in all time zones. 
  • You have the opportunity to automatically collect consumer data and nurture customers with these insights. 

In short, a person can typically make a conversation more fun and engaging, but chatbots have a place in ecommerce as well. As of right now, they’re incredible support tools for human customer service reps, and customers often don’t mind getting rapid responses from the bots, even if the conversation is a bit rigid. 

Best Chatbot Extensions

Here are three great options to choose from:

  • Gobot: This is a free chatbot with apps on Shopify and BigCommerce. It works by helping customers find products, sending personalized emails and more. 
  • Drift: Here’s a chatbot that integrates with any platform, with features for generating more leads, automating sales funnels and converting more traffic. 
  • Bold360: This chatbot from LogMeIn developers offers increased customer conversions, better HR and IT support, and modernized employee support. 

Product Recommendation Engines

Another common use of AI in ecommerce is a product recommendation engine. This tool recommends related products of interest that a user may enjoy. 

This not only helps customers discover new products, it’s also been shown to improve the following for stores:

  • Average order value
  • Conversion rates
  • Overall revenue
  • Shopping cart abandonment (reduced)
Epica Babies shows its most popular products on its website
Image Source: Epica

Ecommerce sites typically show recommended products in several locations, such as at the bottom of product pages, in purchase receipts and during the checkout. 

Best Product Recommendation Engine Extensions

Here are three great options to choose from:

Dynamic Product Pricing

Many online stores use a dynamic pricing strategy to change product pricing based on supply and demand. This increases profits overall and also ensures that sales remain consistent when customers aren’t necessarily seeking out those products. 

Price adjustments like this have been around for quite some time. Think about how going to any airline website produces a new price every time. It all depends on the date, time, route and demand. 

Dynamic Pricing app in action
Image Source: Dynamic Pricing App

Online retailers also use dynamic pricing. Regardless of the industry, these fluctuations are typically made by human pricing experts. 

Artificial intelligence has changed this practice in ways that either completely run the dynamic pricing or assist human workers in making more educated price changes. 

Price optimization software has been shown to boost gross margins by 10%. It also seems to help when companies are transparent about their pricing strategies, like Uber blatantly stating when a price has increased. The argument is that customers at least appreciate knowing why and when the price change has occurred.  

Best Dynamic Pricing Extensions

Here are three great options to choose from:

  • Dynamic Pricing: This is a Shopify app, but keep in mind that dynamic pricing apps are relatively new to ecommerce platforms. A handful of them are available for platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, but we recommend testing all options. 
  • Digonex: Consider this if you’d like to experiment with dynamic pricing for ticket sales, like for sporting events and live entertainment. 
  • Wiser: From Ring to Backcountry.com, many of the top ecommerce brands adjust pricing with Wiser. 

Interface and Content Customization

Wouldn’t it be nice to show one homepage to a new female customer who uses a mobile phone to shop and a completely different homepage to a male customer who mainly shops on a desktop and has been to your website before? 

These are possibilities with AI, considering companies are offering completely personalized interfaces and content depending on which customer is accessing the site. 

There are many benefits to serving up varying interfaces and content to your users:

  • You can increase conversions by showing an interface that makes sense for that customer. For instance, a repeat customer doesn’t want to see the email subscribe form a second and third time. 
  • You can send out notifications based on actions, like abandoned carts and recent purchases. 
  • A great way to personalize is to use a rewards or VIP program where points and other rewards are unique to that customer. 

Some customers may like cleaner interfaces with quick checkouts, while others are more interested in taking their time and browsing.

Smile.io shows users their available rewards
Image Source: Smile.io

Netflix delivers varied interfaces and personalized suggestions with the help of AI. The brand stated that 80% of content watched came from recommendations where the interface changes depending on what the user has watched in the past. 

Best Tools for Introducing AI-Focused Personalization on Your Site

Here are three great options to choose from:

  • Choice AI: Here’s a BigCommerce app that provides elements like smart pages and banners based on what artificial intelligence decides. 
  • Smile.io: Consider an engagement and rewards app like Smile.io for personalizing the entire VIP customer experience. The app is available for all websites since it has a custom integration option. 
  • Octane AI: This is a tool for automating SMS, marketing and support functions for the ultimate personalization. 

Is Artificial Right for Your Online Store?

From product recommendations to a completely personalized interface for your customers, the use of artificial intelligence is in full force for ecommerce brands. AI can both improve the way you connect with customers and help you increase profits through the use of automated tools. 

Some AI tools are complex and tedious to implement, but luckily, some of the apps we outlined in this article are ready to be integrated into your store within minutes. We recommend starting with the basics, such as product suggestions and chatbots. After that, make sure you track the results and ask your customers for feedback on how they feel about the AI. For instance, you may find that the AI chatbot you use isn’t providing accurate enough answers to customer questions.

Artificial intelligence evolves as time passes, and some extensions and apps are more effective than others. The key is testing!

Joe Warnimont is a writer who covers web design and ecommerce tools. He’s written for Shogun since 2019 and has been featured on sites like Kinsta, Ecommerce-Platforms.com and CodeinWP.

Joe Warnimont

Joe Warnimont is a writer who covers web design and ecommerce tools. He’s written for Shogun since 2019 and has been featured on sites like Kinsta, Ecommerce-Platforms.com and CodeinWP. When not working he's on his bike or camping.