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Small businesses in online retail should now embrace AI. Here’s why …

March 28, 2018
Posted in Blog
March 28, 2018 sarah

There was a time when AI was an affordable luxury and only for the big firms like Amazon and eBay. They’ve been using artificial intelligence to raise their game on the customer experience and they do it well. As smaller businesses we looked on opened mouthed and thought – if only ... maybe ... one day.

online retail

Let’s face it AI is a massive game changer. According to Forrester, businesses that are insight driven will capture over a trillion dollars from their less informed competitors every year.

But it’s no longer just something that giant businesses with telephone number budgets can afford. AI is becoming more accessible to businesses of all sizes. In the next few years, AI will continue to expand its reach and early adopters in the smaller business sector are already seeing the benefits.
So maybe now is the time to start and here’s why.
You’ll beat the competition

Smart mirrors, virtual assistants, visual search, chatbots. These are accessible and affordable no matter what size your businesses is and they will help you leap ahead of your competitors.

You’ll save money.

True, the initial cost of hardware and infrastructure is expensive. But think of it as a great investment. Your team will be able to engage your customers in a much more personalised way which will increase your conversions. If you’re offering discounts, price packages and so on chances are you can only afford to offer these to a limited number of customers. Then there’s the problem of deciding who to offer this to and how much discount they should get. AI can help you make the right choice.

AI can assist you on virtually any marketing channel, including push notifications and email marketing. You’ll know the best time to send messages to increase your chances for engagement and increase conversion rates.

The in-store experience

Outstanding service is the key to success for small businesses. Fail at that and the business will fall. Think Toys R Us. I shopped there a few times for my children’s Christmas presents. The customer service was non existent. It was pitiful. I bought a racing game that didn’t work. When I took it back the manager actually got the whole thing out of its box and put it all together at the till to check that I was telling him the truth. There were over 20 people behind me waiting to pay. It was dismal and I vowed never to go back. I doubt mine was a unique experience at that store and it’s now boarded up as are all the others.

The point is …

When we go into a shop we want to feel special. Physical retailers need to dish out the VIP treatment. Amazon makes shoppers feel special. They remember me. They know what I bought and they recommend things that I might like. It’s personal. Small businesses in the online world were missing the personal touch, but now mainstream AI makes changes to the online shopping experience more accessible and affordable.

AI can empower small retailers by automating tasks, accessing rich insights and reaching out to the right customer with the right message at the right time.

AI is here to stay so embrace it and see what it can do for you.