Generative AI is changing … well, everything. And it’s causing commerce leaders to ask the hard questions as they plan for 2024: With a fixed budget, where should we invest? How do we drive loyalty without driving up costs? If we implement AI, what resources will we need and how do we make sure the technology is powered by secure data?
To succeed in the future of commerce and adapt quickly to all the changes, it’s critical to be strategic and methodical. Here’s what to expect in the world of ecommerce over the next few years — and how you can stay ahead.
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Customer trust will take center stage
Today, 68% of customers say advances in AI make it more important for companies to be trustworthy. Customers want to know that their data is used responsibly, their privacy is respected, and that businesses use AI ethically. As AI becomes more advanced and widely adopted, trust will be paramount. This means your company (and those you partner with) should have ethical guardrails in place to address how data is collected and how AI for commerce is implemented.
AI can personalize prices, offers, and products in real time. It can help you automate tedious manual tasks and save teams hours per day. But this all requires a thoughtful approach to mitigate risk and keep data safe. Always get customer consent to collect and use data, and ask your technology partners how they avoid AI pitfalls like hallucinations, inaccuracies, biases, and toxicity.
The future of commerce isn’t just about leveraging AI to move fast and drive revenue; it’s about building trust and customer loyalty.
How you can stay ahead: Most customers (71%) are more likely to trust a company with their personal data if its uses were clearly explained. Build trust by creating transparent guidelines and sharing them with your customers.
Businesses will make moves to harmonize data
The average business uses over 1,000 different apps to run their organization — that’s a lot of data from disparate sources. Before you can use all that data to create truly connected, personalized experiences, you need to harmonize it. Data harmonization is key if you want to uncover insights fast and implement AI in a meaningful way.
What is harmonized data?
Harmonization brings together data from multiple sources (think: your customer relationship management, order management, and enterprise resource planning systems) to provide a holistic view of all the activities across your business.
The first step to harmonization: a customer data platform (CDP). This powerful tool unifies your data, creates a singular view of each customer, and opens up a new realm of possibilities for your business. That’s why 73% of business leaders say a CDP will be critical to their customer experience efforts. Once you harmonize data from across your organization, you can apply AI (including generative AI), automation, and machine learning to help you market, serve, and sell to customers more efficiently. If you want to take advantage of all the new AI capabilities in the future of commerce, data harmonization should be a top priority.
How you can stay ahead: Make sure your data is clean. Remove duplicates, outliers, errors, and other things that can negatively affect how you make decisions.
Personalization will get better, easier, and faster
It’s no surprise: Customers expect personalized experience on every channel and at every touchpoint. However, more than half (56%) still say they’re treated like a number. That’s a huge opportunity for improvement. Fortunately, generative AI and other new solutions make it easier to create hyperpersonalized experiences at scale — no matter where or how your customers shop.
As AI trains on large, rich datasets and continuously learns more over time, businesses will be able to create increasingly impactful personalized experiences. And as customer behaviors change, new commerce tools for sales and service teams will help businesses adapt by offering new ways to shop and pay. Here’s what personalization and user experience will look like in the future of commerce:
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- Dynamic product descriptions: Imagine the lift in your conversion rate if you could tailor your product descriptions to each customer. Now, it’s possible. In an instant, generative AI can use behavioral, demographic, and attitudinal data to whip up personalized product descriptions that speak to each shopper’s specific needs and preferences. Metatags are also instantly updated for each product detail page. AI can also analyze return reason codes, product reviews, and comments to create more accurate, helpful descriptions and reduce returns.
- Hyperpersonalized promotions: With generative AI, personalization is no longer reactive — it’s predictive. Based on ecommerce data like order and search history, you can anticipate customers’ needs, generate content, and tailor promotions to meet the moment.
- Transactions on any touchpoint: Personalization also lets customers shop how and where they prefer. Today, both consumers and B2B buyers want to be able to make purchases outside of a digital storefront. More and more, they’re buying on social media, through messaging apps, with QR codes, and in live-stream videos. To give your shoppers this freedom, you need the right tools. With embedded commerce for sales and service teams, any agent can send Pay Now links across any touchpoint.
How you can stay ahead: Create a segment of your highest-value customers and focus on making their experience shine. Customer acquisition can be costly, and prioritizing loyal customers can help you drive more revenue, fast.
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Commerce teams will skill up for AI
Contrary to many fears, AI isn’t eliminating jobs — it’s making people more productive. When you train AI on secure customer data from across your business, your merchandisers, marketers, and ecommerce teams gain a trusted, whip-smart advisor.
Consider a merchandiser tasked with increasing average order value (AOV). In the past, she’d spend days (or even weeks) tracking down behavioral data for specific customer segments, details about which items are often bought together, and the success of past promotional strategies.
Now? AI can help her quickly reach her goals. She can use generative AI to build a plan, receive step-by-step guidance, and track progress with data-powered insights. This turns weeks of work into a few simple clicks.
More than half of retailers already use generative AI to boost commerce productivity. Creative teams use it to produce assets for ads, emails, social media, and websites. In-store associates use it to generate product recommendations. And technical teams use it to create conversational digital shopping assistants that help customers find the right product or service. As teams are asked to do more with less, the future of commerce will be a rush to automate growth and implement AI in a way that makes every employee’s job more efficient and effortless.
How you can stay ahead: Before you implement new AI tools, clearly define the business value they will bring, create a detailed plan for training and change management, and determine how you’ll measure success.
Are you ready for the future of commerce?
The landscape is changing fast and competition is heating up, but companies with the right tools and strategies will find success. As you plan for 2024, focus on the areas of your business that will increase customer trust, boost productivity and revenue, and garner customer satisfaction. First, make sure your data is harmonized and complete. Then, prioritize productivity and personalization to boost revenue and loyalty.
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