The importance of synonyms, search suggestions and semantic search were discussed in the article "Search in Ecommerce: The Vital Little Details". These now are already quite commonplace and can be considered as standard features available in search. The next leap towards making search a smooth experience came with the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Intelligent Search - Current trends
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, the systems in place today are well aware of the context in which a user is accessing a page and are able to recommend or show contents based on the user context. AI is revolutionizing the experience of the online shoppers and retailers. While shoppers benefit from seamless experience, personalized recommendations and efficient support, retailers are able to capture volumes of data which can be used to drive more sales. In this article we focus on the recent AI trends that are being used by big retailers.
Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), which is one of the main fields in AI, it is now possible to bring about an interaction between a user and the website. Previously, all of the commands were run separately, but now a context-based conversion or conversational AI is getting popular.
With the user’s page visit history and his interactions on various occasions, a context is created exclusively for him and is used for further communication with him. The result in improvement of this field is that now a user can place an order even via a chatbot or using voice commands. The improvement in the field of NLP has led to the emergence of chatbots, voice search, and visual search.
Bot guided commerce is the latest trend in the online retail sector. Today, with the backing of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, Chatbots are being used by different brands to provide customer support, recommend products and increase sales. Gartner predicts that by 2020, a person will have more conversation with bots than with their spouse.
The business advantages of including chatbots in your retail site include
- Better customer service
- Create brand loyalty by providing personalized experiences to shoppers
- Reduced human resources and cut down customer service cost
When it comes to managing thousands of one-to-one communication with consumers, retailers can use chatbots to decrease the gap between consumers and businesses. Chatbots with the ability to recommend products and learn from the interactions can help shoppers to find a product in less time. When you try to include a chatbot into your store, make sure you add a context aware chatbot.
For instance, say you have an online flower delivery shop. When a customer provides you their email id/phone number and says that they would like to place an order for a bouquet of flowers, the chatbot can look up the previous orders of the shopper and can help ease the checkout process by asking questions that include" Would you like to order a hand tied bouquet of 12 yellow roses ? (Context: You had previously ordered a hand-tied bouquet of 12 yellow roses)", “Do you want this to be delivered to xxx? (Context: From your previous delivery address)”, “ Would you like to use COD? (Context: Your last payment method was COD)” etc. The chatbot can definitely reduce the time the shopper requires to purchase a bouquet rather than a non-contextual chatbot that may have more questions like, which bouquet he wants, how many roses he would like to have and what should be the delivery service, payment method etc.
As per the ubisend 2017 survey conducted in UK, 1 in 5 consumers would consider purchasing goods and services from a chatbot. Checkout some e-commerce brands who have already included chatbots in their service.
Voice Controlled E-commerce
With the introduction of digital voice assistants like Alexa, Google Now, Siri and of course chatbots, the wind is blowing towards the conversational ecommerce. Once the convenience of these technologies are identified by shoppers, there is going to be a boom in conversational ecommerce.
According to ‘Walker Sands 2017 Future of Retail Study’ that surveyed more than 1600 US consumers, one in 5 customers (19%) have made a voice purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant, and another third (33%) plan to do so in the next year.
The best example of voice controlled e commerce today, is Amazon Alexa. Amazon claims that with its ‘2017 Holiday Season Sale’, millions of Prime members voice shopped with Alexa for gifts, Amazon devices and everyday household essentials. Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote were among the most purchased items.
Once the accuracy of the voice search is more precise, it is sure that the voice commerce is going to be more popular.
2017 witnessed the emergence of VisualDiscovery tools in Pinterest. Pinterest introduced these tools claiming that it can see the world like you do. When you are out and when you see something that catches your eyes and if you don’t know how to convert this to search keywords, you can click the image using the Pinterest camera and see the item or related items as pins. You can try the lens on a dress and see the related items and you may get ideas on what other items goes along with it. You can point this to any food items and you may get interesting recipes.
Not much later, Bing also announced their project Bing Visual Search with the tagline connect your camera to a deep search experience. Using the Bing Visual Search it is possible to get information about an item inside a picture. Say you see a home decor image and if you are interested in a particular chandelier, you can use the magnifying glass symbol and select the chandelier. Bing runs the visual search instantly and will provide you with the related items.
Visual search reduces the number of steps the customer must take to purchase a product. Users don’t have to query and wait for the product they require. It also helps users who are “spearfishing” ie, who search for one specific product. More targeted results can be obtained using visual search.
As the technology behind the visual search is being improved, let's look forward to more exciting developments from it.
Using Drupal 8 and Drupal commerce 2.x, it is possible to bring fully integrated experience with the above technologies to the user. To know more about integrating the chatbot that best suits your business, get in touch with us!