eCommerce & Merchandising

AI for Commerce Professionals – Make Better Decisions and Stay Ahead of the Game

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“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

This famous line from Star Wars was my first encounter with a Jedi Mind Trick. As a commerce professional, try to imagine if you had such a force—one that would enable you to know what each of your customers is looking for.

There is a new alliance between AI and commerce that is driving real impact to the bottom line for many organizations. Because commerce is highly digital in nature, today’s cognitive systems can augment your growth initiatives—crunching data, predicting trends, and helping you respond to market changes in real time.

Meet Watson, Your AI-Powered Assistant

Imagine if you could get ahead of your competitors with dynamic pricing. Imagine improved conversion with smarter sequencing of products on category pages. What if you had a virtual assistant, a Jedi Master of sorts, that could help you make better decisions, ask better questions, be more informed and take action to stay ahead of the game?

Now with Watson Commerce, you can have a virtual, expert team member that will alert you to situations that may need attention before they become problems. You and your team will be able to respond faster to market opportunities by identifying patterns based on customer behavior. With this insight, you will be able to deliver next best offers in real-time that are location and device aware.

Watson is Changing the Way Commerce is Conducted

Our friends at Carhartt have added Watson Commerce Insights Assistant to their team. When considering her team of commerce professionals, Anna Cole, Senior Manager of Operations and Merchandising at Carhartt shared, “Now our users will be able to see how market factors are affecting customers, sales and inventory on in real-time. Then, using their own words, quickly visualize and explore potential trends behind the data, so they can initiate an immediate response and capitalize on the opportunity.”

Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) is leveraging the force of Watson Commerce to improve customer engagement and personalization with new search functions and product assortment. IBM Watson is able to take a customer’s search, purchase and browsing history to provide smarter recommendations. When searching for an item, Watson can understand and interpret a sprawling string of prompts and return extremely accurate results. For example, an online shopper can find answers, using simple language, like: “I want to see all items available in size medium, made out of this fabric and in this color, that can be delivered to me tomorrow.” By leveraging this force for change, YNAP is now seeing the value of Watson to improve customer experience and increase brand loyalty and conversions.

Staples is another great example. Remember their popular “Easy Button” marketing campaign?  They transformed it from a great marketing message and in-store promotional item into a full-fledged AI-powered intelligent ordering system. Using simple spoken words, time-crunched office managers can now easily order supplies by pushing the physical button on their desk or speaking directly into a mobile app to order supplies. By tapping into the force of cognitive APIs from IBM Watson and IBM Cloud, Staples now offers a seamless ordering experience for customers across its entire ecosystem—whether via its next-generation Easy Button, through the mobile app, text, email, over Facebook Messenger or with a Slackbot. Staples has transformed its Easy Button into an intelligent ordering ecosystem that business customers can use to order supplies easily using voice, text or email.

Ryan Bartley, Director of Mobile Strategy and Applied Innovation at Staples, told us, “It was a wake-up call for us—that cognitive solutions are real and the tooling around them [is] powerful. That’s what got us really interested in Watson.”

And on a final note, a major retailer in North America was able to improve profitability by reducing shipping costs with Watson Commerce and Order Optimizer. Essentially, they are now able to keep up with volume during peak seasons, estimate shipping costs and find the best solution to fulfill orders, minimizing order splits through optimization algorithms.

Optimize Every Fulfillment Decision with AI

With Watson, commerce professionals can deliver relevant and intuitive experiences throughout the entire customer journey, driven by insights to help optimize the business from marketing to merchandising to fulfillment. They can optimize every omnichannel fulfillment decision by determining the best sourcing option and analyzing all factors impacting costs, for each order at any time.

In essence, you can leverage the force of AI in commerce to know which droids you’re looking for.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit

Director of Marketing, Watson Commerce, IBM Marketing

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