But is there anything your retail business can do to profit from AI?
When it comes to ecommerce, the answer is a resounding “yes.” And early adopters stand to benefit significantly. There are several ways you can soon start applying AI to help drive profitable growth. Here are just a few that will positively disrupt ecommerce:
Retailers and brands spend weeks or months mapping new products and catalogs to online channels. Each one has its own set of requirements and parameters, which means precise mapping for every SKU is key.
It’s one of the most critical aspects of ecommerce — and one of the most challenging to get right. Product names, descriptions, colors, sizes and other elements don’t always align to preset fields, which means something as simple as a running shoe being mapped as pink instead of fuchsia can force you to start from scratch. Having just a few errors like this, where the data didn’t get applied correctly, can cause the entire list to be sent back so you have to start over — again. And because much of the work is done manually, even the most meticulous process can still be riddled with errors. There are simply too many spreadsheets to share, business rules to set and inconsistencies to fix.
With AI, those challenges disappear, allowing retailers to more quickly onboard new brands. As a result, brands can go live on multiple ecommerce channels within minutes instead of months. If a supplier brand sends information that’s missing critical details, AI can effectively predict what those fields should include and leverage validation rules to help ensure accuracy.
It means less time fixing errors and filling in the blanks, and a much speedier onboarding process for retailers to expand their curated product selection. This allows brands to get their products to Walmart, eBay, Amazon and other channels at an unprecedented pace, and retailers can delight their customers with new products faster.
Retailers and brands that embrace AI-driven, multi-channel mapping will not only eliminate inevitable human errors. They can also dramatically shorten time-to-market to sell more products across more ecommerce channels, all with a scalable model designed to drive profitable growth.
Which products should you stock? What should you display on your website? As online retailers work to make decisions on what to stock and when, these are constant challenges for merchandising teams. But too often, those critical players don’t have the information they need to make data-driven decisions when identifying an ideal merchandise mix with the right set of suppliers. The result is an ongoing cycle of excess inventory and out-of-stock items.
Without reliable forecasts and actionable insights derived from the massive amounts of data only an extensive commerce network can provide, retailers will always run the risk of difficulties like these. Now more than ever, predicting the correct merchandise mix is critical.
AI empowers merchandising teams to put predictive analytics and pattern-matching to work. By accurately matching current trends and demand with the right set of suppliers and brands, AI removes the guesswork to help retailers overcome overstock, understock and out-of-stock issues. Those same algorithms can also tell you when it’s time to expand to new categories.
Today’s inventory management teams host a large volume of commerce transaction data. But turning all those bits and bytes into smart decisions — at the speed of ecommerce, no less — is an enormous undertaking.
At any given time, there are dozens of different factors to consider for each item, from warehousing and geographic locations to how quickly you can get an order to the customer. Multiply that by millions of SKUs and the challenges are never-ending. At the same time, you can’t afford to get it wrong. More than 60% of online shoppers expect three-day delivery as the standard, and 85% will not shop with a retailer again after a poor delivery experience.
AI allows online retailers to analyze massive data sets from an extensive commerce network to speed up delivery and fulfillment, and to provide more accurate and reliable delivery promises. It’s the key to smart inventory and predictability management — the very model businesses will need to meet consumer expectations in a fast-changing industry. The result is efficiency and agility that was previously not possible.
Multichannel mapping, merchandise mix, inventory management — for today’s online retailers, they’re all vital to survival. While AI won’t solve every challenge, it can unlock all kinds of opportunities to get to market faster, reduce manual errors and delight customers. Best of all, it’s not a future technology that could transform the industry. AI is ready to start disrupting retail right now for businesses that choose to embrace it.
Aarthi Ramamurthy serves as Chief Product Officer at CommerceHub and is responsible for product management and product design for the company’s SaaS solutions, delivering increased ecommerce agility, growth and efficiency for customers across its network. She is an innovator with a strategic, entrepreneurial approach and extensive experience building products and guiding technology organizations with unique insights and perspectives to achieve transformative results. Her career spans over two decades leading product strategy and building software products and solutions that deliver exceptional experiences, as well as roles as a founder, entrepreneur, angel investor and startup advisor. Ramamurthy has a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering from PSG College of Technology.