Shaping the Future for Ecommerce

Few industries are as competitive as ecommerce. Not only are online retailers competing with other online stores and brick-and-mortar locations, but also the overall noise that is the Internet. We live in a world where consumer attention span is getting shorter and shorter:40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and the average shopping cart is abandoned more than 68 percent of the time. I’m hard pressed to find an ecommerce site that is not constantly scrambling to engage more and drive more sales.

Technology is finally helping with those efforts in a big way. Artificial intelligence (AI), which has demonstrated its value in industries like marketing, healthcare and finance, is now making a splash in online commerce.

Related: Tech Moguls Such as Musk and Bezos Declare Era of Artificial Intelligence

Antoine Blondeau, CEO of the world’s most funded AI company,Sentient Technologies, once said, “Five years from now, we’ll see AI take a bigger role in making decisions, creating pre-emptive solutions, and delivering insights. Society will become much more efficient as a result. Think logistics, ecommerce, healthcare, finance — in all these domains and others we will start to see massive gains from AI. We’ll be able to leverage AI systems to help get things to where they need to go faster and cheaper, we’ll be able to enable people to see and buy things they weren’t even aware existed or even knew they wanted.”

Here are three ways AI will impact ecommerce in the coming years:

Visual search.

Shoppers, say goodbye to impulse control. Software platforms that drive ecommerce websites are creating visual search capabilities which allow consumers to upload an image and find similar/complementary products. The visual search capabilities, particularly via mobile, “reads” the item for clues — color, shape, size, fabric and brand. This helps consumers to find exactly what they are looking for right away.

“In the age of Snapchat, Instagram, and the rapidly reducing attention spans of the digital age, AI-driven platforms will be essential to ecommerce success,” says Akash Bhatia, cofounder and CEO of Infinite Analytics, a deep machine learning and predictive analytics platform for retail.