How artificial intelligence is solving retail's biggest challenges
Did you know that in the space of only three months, the adoption of online retail services leapt by 10 years in the United States?
And this isn't the only evidence of the massive shift in online retail in the last few years. In Australia, 1.36 million households made their first-ever online purchase in 2020.
This hasn't just affected retailers, but other critical industries such as banking, where registrations for mobile accounts in April 2020 rose by 200% in the US and banking apps became more popular than social media apps in the UK. And there's also no going back to pre-pandemic habits, with McKinsey reporting that online consumer behaviors are here to stay.
But with uptake growing so quickly, has technology been able to keep up? Or are many online retailers struggling to keep up with demand and an over-abundance of abandoned carts?
Online retail's biggest challenges in 2022
These quick changes have left many online service providers floundering as they face problems such as:
Poor digital assets & tools
With digital sales assets and tools becoming critical, many brands and businesses are finding that their current offerings (such as an FAQ section, online chatbot, or basic CRM) aren't enough to serve the needs of their customers. This has resulted in call centers and customer support agents being flooded with requests and unable to respond quickly enough.
The almost forced adoption of ecommerce channels has left many customers feeling uneasy or anxious as they struggle to understand new platforms. While it can be quite intuitive for those that have previously shopped online, for new users there are unanswered questions around:
- How do I make sure these clothes fit before I buy them?
- How do I make a return or exchange without a physical store?
- How do I know this isn't a scam or a fake store?
And these two challenges lead to…
The bane of any retailer's existence is an abandoned cart. Retailers and service providers are losing millions in potential profit, as well as spending thousands to entice shoppers back.
But all this is done without actually solving the underlying issue that causes customers to abandon their carts.
The real cause of abandoned carts and journeys
Outside of extra costs (such as shipping), an overly long sales process and mistrust are some of the biggest reasons behind abandoned carts.
The cause? A lack of human touch. In physical stores, customers are guided by salespeople that help them progress on their journeys and answer their questions - but in online spaces, this is rarely the case. Customers can’t progress past certain points in their journey due to information or service barriers.
Online retailers need to re-introduce the human element to ensure that their customers can complete their journey successfully and love their experience enough to return as a repeat customer.
Luckily, there's an innovative solution that lets businesses do all this within the confines of an online landscape.
Artificial intelligence brings humanity back to online retail
Retailers are starting to realize that artificial intelligence (AI) is the key to overcoming many of their retail challenges, and the 21% worldwide growth in the AI software market (from last year alone) is a clear sign of this.
So how can AI assist online retailers and service providers in giving their customers the best possible experience online?
Understands everything your customers want
An AI's ability to decode and understand real language (instead of, say, basic prompts fed into a chat bot's limited funnel) is one of its biggest strengths. With its natural language processing, the AI can answer queries and help progress the customer through their journey, all while sounding like a human. And as the AI continues to be utilized, this ability grows as it learns and evolves.
Plugs into your current tools and systems
Many businesses spend a fortune on CRMs and sophisticated retail backends to improve their customer journeys - and they won't need to give this up for an AI system. AI software is API-driven and works better when it's able to tap into backend functions like order history, location, and catalogues to then help your customers on their journeys.
Proactively works in the past, present, and future
While CRMs can be incredibly useful tools, most of them can't anticipate a customer's future wants or needs very well as they only work with historical data that may not apply to future experiences. An AI's predictive abilities allow it to work in both the present and future to anticipate needs and requests, as well as to share smarter suggestions to queries as it pulls information like order history from your current systems.
Artificial intelligence is already helping retailers thrive
By using AI in retail to create better online experiences for their customers, businesses can reap rewards like:
- An increase in conversions: with AI guiding customers through their journey, businesses will see an increase in conversions as sales become easier to close. In fact, some companies have seen their conversions multiply by nine since implementing AI software.
- Diversion of traffic to call centres: because AI can answer most queries, fewer customers need to reach out to support agents or call centres. This saves on time and allows customers with more complex needs to get their problems solved. Some companies have seen 30-50% diversions from call centres using AI-powered intelligent call management solutions.
- Reduction in costs and overheads: fewer resources being spent on customer support and an increase in sales all lead to a reduction in costs and an increase in profits - the perfect scenario for any business.
- An increase in loyalty: happy and fulfilled customers will reward businesses that provide them with a great experience with their loyalty and recommendations to their friends. This results in an increase in future sales and profits.
Ready to give your customers a better shopping experience?
Today's online retail challenges aren't easy to solve, but the smartest businesses have found the right solution in AI. This innovative and cutting-edge software will enable you to sell more, serve better, and create raving fans.
If you want to put customers at the centre of your business and create better experiences, you can contact our friendly team to find out how AI can transform your business.
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