I am often faced with questions about the impact of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence on eCommerce.
People want to know what it means for business and how online stores can adapt to the rapid changes.
Though I am not a fan of predicting (worrying about) the future. Yet, I encourage you to prepare for it.
So today, I will talk more about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) as touching eCommerce Stores and Marketplaces.
I will answer a few questions, such as :
- What role do AI and ML have to play in eCommerce?
- Should you pay attention to it?
- How do you stay prepared for it?
And many more…
Can I assume you know that AI and ML are making a tremendous impact on ecommerce in Nigeria like never?
And so this call for changes in the way you as an entrepreneur promote your business.
Here are some few amazing global facts about artificial intelligence and machine learning
- We expect the global AI market to reach a revenue of $118.6 billion in the next 4 years. (Leftronic)
- 40% of Marketing and Sales teams say data science encompassing AI and ML is critical to their success as a department. (Forbes)
- Gartner Survey Shows 37% of Organizations Have Implemented AI in Some Form (Gartner) and many more…
As you must have known before now, you must expect what you don’t expect. You must hold a glimpse of the future.
Change is constant, you have heard. It cannot be truer than that.
“This is how we do things” will ruin your business. Change is constant, I repeat.
I am saying this because a common belief among business owners is to think they know. The belief they have arrived.
You don’t want the fall of your business to be the next News headlines. Ecommerce marketing is strengthening. It’s becoming more than building a website.
They have published more papers on AI. More students enrolling in ML courses.
I encourage you to read more about counterfactual simulation. It’s a way of thinking that prepares you for the next available possibilities.
AI and ML are changing the game.
Wake up o ye business owner. Arise for thy light has come.
So you can continue with me if:
- You need a quick understanding of AI and ML
- You want to know how AI and ML affect your business ranking on Google.
- You want to be 10X ahead of other store owners since most are sleeping now.
- You want to cut costs and maximize profit from advertising.
- You want to be ready for the future of ecommerce.
So let’s begin
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Do you have a debit or credit card? How about a smartphone?
Okay! Have you bought anything online before? Do you watch videos online? Do you play computer games?
If Yes! Then you have interacted with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
A knowledge of machine learning is vital today because of its impact on many areas of our lives.
As you can see the significant use of artificial intelligence in many industries such as medical, automobile, banking, teaching and many more.
These technologies are now active in all areas of life to make better users’ experiences.
Without exemption, artificial intelligence and machine learning are having a serious impact on our daily businesses, especially ecommerce.
Jumia recommending products you are probably in need of. Amazon bundling products together that will make a complete set of what you need.
These are works of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Systems on the commands of machine learning have taken over and automate major works that once require the availability of men.
And ecommerce businesses which embraces this change (technology) have a competitive advantage over others who resist.
This is because they can deliver effective customer service, also reducing cost and increasing profits.
Why Learn About Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?
For Personal Use:
Big organization today uses data gotten from AI and ML to decide where you belong in the big picture.
Should you be treated poorly or accord the respect you deserve? Should you wait longer or be attend to immediately?
Can you possibly be a criminal or you are innocent? AI and ML are used to determining those factors today.
So, wouldn’t it be better if you gain the knowledge to know how you could best position for this technology to favour you.
Let me cite an example:
I was at the bank some time ago on a sunny afternoon during the first outbreak of the COVID-19. And we all are on a queue for a proper checkup before entry.
Because of the high temperature from the sun, some persons were putting on face cap and some veil to cover their faces.
The machine kept rejecting a man line ahead of me and no one could understand why.
And so the security man told him to step aside. He felt bad and was afraid maybe he is positive to the C19 disease.
But because I understood the commands (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) in which the checking device works on.
I told the man to remove his face cap and blow his fore head till he feels cool. He did that and went back to check.
Behold, it accepted him.
Now same man, same checking device, same situation, but uncommon knowledge.
Having an understanding on how artificial intelligence and machine learning interact with your personal life matters a lot.
For Business Purpose:
The second and most important reason is how it has become a must ecommerce tool for any business ready to scale beyond the ordinary.
How will you maximize your ad campaign if you don’t understand how they work?
How will better strategize if you don’t know how to read the data on spreadsheet gotten from the previous use of artificial intelligence and machine learning?
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are must for you if you must build a successful ecommerce business.
This is not about saying, “It’s only for big companies. I run small businesses so I don’t need it.” That’s saying is ancient and not valid anymore.
Regardless of your size of business or what you do, the use of artificial intelligence based on machine learning is can be seen in one or all of your business activities.
This ranges from vetting employees, getting customers’ feedback, running ad campaign, recommending products on your ecommerce website and more.
If you will accept this change and applying to your business, you will do better than your rivals still on manual operations and guess work.
Ask, “Will I have to learn all the technicalities of artificial intelligence and machine learning?”
No, you don’t have to except you want to pursue a career as a data scientist.
All you need to know is a basic knowledge of how these technologies works and ways you can benefit from them.
Your data scientist will work with you to understand the culture, goals, and objectives of your company.
Then he will determine what solution will be best to meet your needs and explains to you in simple ways you will not need ecommerce glossary of terms or dictionary.
What is Machine Learning?
Have you ever face a particular challenge and you remembered you have once seen and solved something similar or same before?
Then you draw from your solution to the previous problem to solve this current problem.
So the more you solve more of that problem, the faster and accurate you solve new emerging ones.
This explains machine learning and how it works.
Machine learning is using mathematical algorithms (step-by-step procedure) to collect, analyze, and process data (information).
This is to discover similarity or likeness or correlation between various items of data.
Now, once they have discovered a relationship between these items, they can predict the behavior of future occurrences.
One way you will have interacted with machine learning is via object recognition.
Object recognition is the ability of machines to identify everyday objects from the images presented to the system.
These objects could be bags, shoes, fingers, eyeballs, chairs and more.
Every picture you present to the machine learning algorithm stores and labels to identify the objects it contains.
Machine learning does further to analyze the features associated with every object in an image.
Features like recognizing if it’s a flat shoe, heel shoe, or even sandal. Understanding that umbrellas are wide when opened and thin when closed.
Also, knowing that handbags comes always with a handle and trousers with two separate legs.
Apart from recognizing object, machine learning can also make predictions based on the previous information it has.
So if you have a data of your customers’ previous purchase, machine learning can analyze and use it to recommend (predict) products the customers will most likely buy next.
We know this entire process of predictions as Predictive Model or Predictive Analysis.
Also, machine learning can also estimate the probability of something happening if a something else occurs.
You see this in doctors diagnosing a medical condition if the patients exhibit certain symptoms.
Machine learning grades by scores. The higher the score, the higher the chance of the predictions occurring.
If you want a loan from your bank, your average savings will determine the amount you can access in the bank.
Other factors could include how quick are you to repay the last loan and also your salary.
Also, if you are to borrow, call credit from your service providers, they will allow you borrow in average to your previous recharge.
So, if you load credit in thousands always and often, you have a higher chance of borrowing more than he that loads only in hundreds.
As if that’s not all;
You can use machine learning to target a promotional offer to customers based on their age, gender, demographics and more.
Social media platforms also use machine learning to present you post you may like based on your engagement with similar previous post.
Machine learning has so many extensive use like credit card fraud, alert, date matchmaking and more.
Remember, there was a time you posted a group picture of you and others on Facebook. Do you notice Facebook marked your faces in a box? Facebook went further to suggest your friends’ names, even when you never did.
Also, whenever an image cannot load. You might see text trying to describe what the picture contains. Example Tow people standing by the roadside and more. Note: This differs from alt tags.
But how was that possible?… That’s machine learning.
Types of Machine Learning
- Supervised Learning
- Unsupervised Learning
- Reinforcement Learning
Supervised machine learning are problems where there is an existing data to make predictions.
Unsupervised machine learning are problems where the system relies on its algorithms to help access and collate data needed to make predictions.
Reinforcement machine learning is a process where the system must complete a specific task. The systems learn what to do and improve on it.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is the replication of human reasoning and decision-making capability in a situation.
It is the creation of intelligent machines to work, react and understand languages as humans will do.
For ecommerce businesses, the use of AI means you will spend less time on repetitive administrative task and satisfy customers better.
We have the narrow and general artificial intelligence.
The Narrow is a system of performing accurately when applied to a specific situation.
The General AI is a system that can learn, adapt and act according to the event on ground in any situation.
Most of the AI at work today are Narrow AI. So, an AI used to detect cancerous disease in the medical field is useless in detecting fake credit card.
Science is the far way to achieving accurate general AI that acts exactly as human will do.
A key advantage the artificial intelligence has over human intelligence is its ability to scale and improved overtime.
These abilities have the quality of increasing productivity and reducing human errors.
You can use artificial intelligence to predict churn rate and analyse your customers’ behavior.
Customers search, clicks and purchases are all key data source you can use get valuable business insights and decrease your churn rates.
Another way you can benefit from AI is the use of sentimental analysis. With sentimental analysis, you can read customers’ emotion (either positive or negative) towards a product.
This knowledge will help you assess your business performance and improve on it.
Using artificial intelligence to speed up business activities from chat bots to web analytics tools is a competitive advantage for you.
Companies like Facebook and Google could assess big data because of their large user base.
They may not really need to conduct a survey as they can get same information via users’ post, comments and search item.
But you will most likely want to conduct a survey and gain feedback from your customers to help serve them better.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the design of machines so they behave as actual humans will do. These machines can decide in any context, as a normal person would do.
AI can carry out a specific task. This is what you see in self-driving cars like Tesla, google cars, and more.
They know the number of cars in the front. They know when to wait for the traffic light and many more.
In Video games, your players emulate the players in actual life. So if you score with Messi, your player will jubilate as though it was Messi.
We also see AI in chatbots and email autoresponders.
One outstanding example, I will want to draw your attention to is Google DeepMind. It uses general algorithms to understand large data of intellects.
DeepMind can think for itself using the “convolutional neural network”. It studies behavior and asks and acts as expected in every context.
Types of Artificial Intelligence
- Reactive Machines,
- Limited Memory,
- Theory of Mind, and
- Self – awareness
What are the Differences between Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?
Artificial intelligence and machine earning are two different things. When they work together, they become a powerful force in business.
- Machine learning is about using previously gotten data to make predictions of a user’s next behavior. Artificial intelligence empowers this machine learning system to be faster, stable and more efficient than it could have been alone.
- Machine learning has been for decades but it lacks speed, scales and applications. And those are where artificial intelligence fits in.
- Machine learning system of processing model can be slow, especially if the data is of large volumes. With the use of, Artificial intelligence, you can process big data in actual time.
How Does Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Impact Business?
Relationship with customers:
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools powered by AI and ML can classify your customers into groups based on demographics and position in the sales funnel.
This helps you differentiate actual customers from potential customers.
Lock out fraudulent act:
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help lock out hackers trying to force their way into your ecommerce website, backend.
Also, you can detect and reject fake credit card used on your checkout page.
With human intelligence, it’s hard to tell which products or services will sell most. AI and ML make it possible to analyse customers’ search data and predict expected sales of a product.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help increase productivity and reduce downtime while also helping to avoid major human errors.
Do you want to increase users’ engagement and purchases? Use Ai and ML to make personalized recommendations of what they want, and you will get them to make better purchases.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help the human resource department of your company to assess employees based on their output. This takes away the place of sentiments.
We can see the importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning in other areas of business like
- Sales forecasting
- Market research
- Data collection and validation
- Risk taking and management
- Target Ad marketing
Google As An Artificial Intelligence Company
In 2018, Google made it known that it is now an AI-First Company So what does it mean to an AI-First company?
Look at this example :
Dangote went public, producing cement. Years after, he makes almost everything – salts, sugar, noodles, and more.
Before, Dangote was a cement-first company. Now, a group of companies.
Back to Google…
The first product Google made was a search engine. Googles was first a search company. i.e. search was her major priority.
Google’s search engine then worked a little like AI. It tries to match what you searched for with blog content.
This was possible with the use of Google Spiders. They match keywords and assume it will be good for your search.
Marketers abused this method by stuffing their content with keywords.
Things went bad…Much low-quality content ranking higher. Ranking became more of the content with the highest amount of keywords.
Now Google being an AI company, things turned around.
I now introduce to you…
Google AI – RankBrain
As I have said earlier, Google no longer attempts to match your keywords with site content. Instead, it tries to answer your questions by showing you relevant answers.
This is possible with the use of machine learning. It operates on natural language processing.
If you search for what Google has not seen before, RankBrain would imagine:
- What the word(s) could mean?
- What context are you using it?
- What previous search does it have?
Then RankBrain will try to group words that are similar in meaning.
Doing these, it could tell what you are looking for and provide the relevant suggestions.
RankBrain also can filter stop words. Stop words are common everyday words such as “the”, “to”, “and”,.
When search results show up. RankBrain would observe which contents have the highest Click-Through Rate (CTR).
CTR is the number of times you clicked on content in comparison with the number of times you saw it.
RankBrain goes further to track your experience on the site. Do you read the content to the end? How long did you stay on the site? And more.
These have helped Google to do away with low-quality content.
Google wants you to provide quality content. It wants you to write your product’s description as you talk. It wants everything natural.
You don’t need to know everything about RankBrain – the AI or ML
You only need to be more natural and effective than ever when producing content.
Google AI – Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Latent Semantic Indexing is a method for identifying patterns and connections between text.
It uses the singular value decomposition in Mathematics to do this.
LSI is a crucial factor if you want to rank high on Google.
As I have explained in my previous teaching, SEO is one lifeline of eCommerce marketing.
It’s a must if you want more persons on your websites.
Rather than matching keywords, Google now looks at the subject of the content. It does this searching for similar words.
That gives it the ability to understand what your content is about.
Let me use this example so you understand better.
If I have written a blog post about RankBrain before.
In the past, Google may show up my post to someone searching for information about the human brain.
Meanwhile, RankBrain is not the same as the human brain
So how do you optimize your website for LSI?
If I tell you, “do this”. I am only lying. Don’t let anyone deceive you into believing some techniques will work out. No! It doesn’t.
All you need to do is to produce good content for your readers.
Also, use synonyms and over one keyword in your content.
Structured Data and Examples
Structured data refers to any data that arrange in an organized way. It is easy for search engines to understand your data.
I also know it as schema markups or rich data.
Examples of structured data are names, numbers, dates, addresses, and more.
If I search for eCommerce marketing tools, I will probably see a list as shown in this image.
Schema markup is to help Google understand how each paragraph works. I encourage you to structure your eCommerce stores so it does not leave behind you.
I will use this section to explain Big Data in brief and how it benefits your eCommerce marketing.
So, what is big data?
In simple words, I define big data as many data sets.
This data could be phone numbers of voters in a state. Or the number of people living in a country by gender. That is data.
When I mean big data, it’s not as huge as you think.
If you have a thousand persons visiting your site a day, that’s enough to call data.
And that’s because your website will record more than visits. Included are; Location, Browser, Operating systems, Pages visited and more.
When you search on Jumia, it shows you your previous searches. That’s advantage of big data.
You can use big data to right recommend products to the right visitor. It helps you know what customers want and so you serve them with it.
If I search for shoes on Google, the next time I log on Facebook, I will see ads on shoes.
That’s big data made possible via retargeting.
So getting customers’ details (address, phone, email) is essential to gather data for your business.
In case you don’t know, I am glad to inform you that…
Google now pays attention to the images on your website as it does with text.
You must have heard of Google images where you can upload an image to search for similar images.
That became possible through machine learning.
Have you heard of Optical Character Recognition OCR?
If you have, great. If you haven’t; I will explain.
OCR is the ability to read text from an image.
This means Google can read your images as much as it can with text. Close to this was the facial recognition I explained earlier.
Don’t go to Google or images websites to pick photos for your products.
Make use of relevant and unique images. Take a clear picture of your products and upload. It helps more.
When you upload your images, add alt tags. Alt tags explain to Google what your images represent.
Above all, make sure you use high-quality resolution products images.
Have you noticed chatbots are becoming popular among online businesses? That’s a great one.
Chatbots are mini AI that gives automated replies to visitors. They are a significant support for customer service.
Most site owners place chatbots at the right bottom part of their websites.
Yes, it can get a lot of details from users without the impression of filling a form.
Facebook Chatbots are another tool you should consider. Over 1.2 billion people now use Facebook messenger.
You can add this chatbot to your websites. It makes communication easy for your audience.
Imagine if I could request for shoes on your website by sending a Facebook or Whatsapp message. Wouldn’t that make business easy for you?
What if clients could seek your services without ever needing to speak with you in person?
Those are a few advantages of using chatbots.
Conclusion on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
I wrote this piece to explain how Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning are affecting eCommerce.
What do you need to do as a business owner?
- Use latent semantic indexing in your content
- Provide high-quality content (blog and products description).
- Use good English and be natural about it
- Ask questions from customers in form of survey to know how they find you.
- Place your readers first.
- Do away with low-quality irrelevant Google images. Use unique images.
You now know what to do now. So, go do it.
If you have any question, you can contact me here. I will be glad to answer.