eCommerce & Merchandising

Implementing AI and Cognitive Technologies as Part of Your Digital Strategy

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Traditionally, eCommerce was only used within a retail context. Now, eCommerce applies to virtually all industries; including B2B and B2C companies. With respect to “online commerce,” engagement is all about incorporating journey mapping and real-time interactions. The new norm is “conversational commerce,” a term coined by Forrester as technology that provides guided, contextual, dialogue-based engagement. Today, digital interactions must simulate a conventional in-store experience – with an added touch of personalization. It is no longer enough to just complete a one-time transaction, companies must interact with customers in a more meaningful way.

Herein lies the challenges for many companies today. How can they improve engagement and stand apart from the competition? First, let’s take a look at a few real-life examples:

Forrester conducted case studies on The North Face and 1-800 Flowers who implemented AI-Driven tools to better serve customers. To set the stage, The North Face was struggling with engagement and developing a consistent omni-channel presence. They recognized there was a disconnect between their digital and brick-and-mortar stores. To make matters worse, the previous website lacked advanced capabilities such as next product recommendations, intuitive search functionality, and providing accurate product information. 1-800-Flowers.com. lacked the ability to understand customer sentiment and better target the right audience. To fix this, they needed tools that would dig deeper into the emotional reasoning behind purchase decisions to uncover what will drive repeat behavior and loyalty.

Both companies implemented AI and cognitive technologies as part of their digital strategy. The North Face did this by using Fluid’s commerce solution, which utilizes IBM Watson’s text analyzing capability. This solution also ensured their online product content was transparent and clean. To take this even further, The North Face sought to speak the same language as customers so they also used surveys and customer feedback as a way to improve customer service. Using cognitive analytics, they were able to understand the relationship between the products they offer and the customers it serves. In doing so, they saw the following results:

  • 75 % of consumers who tried the new tools said they would use the tool again
  • Customers spend 40% more time onsite when they interact with the solution

1-800-Flowers.com also implemented AI-driven commerce into their business operations. Now they are able to identify gaps in the shopper journey and move customers along the buying cycle which has already increased online sales and overall order value. These two examples show the business value of leveraging analytics to tune in and actively listen to customer needs. Instead of simply conducting business transactions, companies need tools like these to anticipate and predict behavior, which is exactly what cognitive analytics can do. Not only does it capture the voice of the customer, it uses that insight to help business leaders improve decision-making. Companies that invest in new AI-driven technologies will stand out among competitors because they will have valuable information on how consumers buy across all touch points from mobile, web, apps, email, to in store. In doing so, they will be equipped to put the right product in the hands of the right customer.

Take another real-life example. Staples now has an intelligent ordering system, “Easy button,” that allows customers to order supplies using voice, text, or email. Not only has this tool increased customer loyalty, it has increased order sizes and improved service scores. Staples achieved this by using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning capabilities of Watson to simply the purchasing process. Read the full story here.

Technological advances are disrupting the status quo and bringing new opportunities for companies to leverage digital and cognitive innovations to deliver consistent, personalized experiences that will pay off in profitability and customer advocacy. Top performers are also utilizing new digital interfaces, mobile solutions, IoT and cloud computing to fundamentally transform how they do business.

Are you ready for the Cognitive era?

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