There is rarely a facet within an industry that hasn’t been touched by technology. The retail industry is no exception when it comes to taking advantage of technology.

In fact, successful businesses are setting the bar by implementing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, and voice assistants into their operations. The reasons vary, but these technologies help provide excellent customer experiences through instant communication, providing support without the help of live employees; they improve data management and security, and much more.

Many online stores already have integrated ecommerce software (such as that offered by Sana Commerce), but to stay in the competition, any ecommerce business must give serious thought to the following technologies to stay prosperous and maintain customer satisfaction.

1. Artificial intelligence

AI is revealing valuable insights into customer preferences, which can guide marketing campaigns. It also can provide for the automation and transfer of data management operations to increase performance. In the retail and ecommerce world, AI is being relied upon for several unique aspects of business:

Personalised user experience

AI, big data and machine learning can offer analytics and foresight into customer behavior patterns which can drive advertising campaigns, provide support and services, and automate communication – all of which increase engagement rates for businesses.

AI provides a personalised user experience that 59% of customers say influences their shopping decisions, such as facilitating a shopping experience that is supported by customers’ personal preferences.

Recommendations to customers

Since AI can predict customer behaviour patterns, it is able to recommend relevant and useful information to customers on products and services and more. AI and machine learning algorithms can efficiently forecast this information by taking in a customer’s search history and other third-party data. This can lead to effectively proposing applicable information and solutions to satisfy customer needs.

Automated campaign management

Customer behaviour patterns are a driving force behind any marketing campaign. Using AI, businesses are able to target both potential and existing customers by looking at their behaviour history. These analytics can be used to provide a better-aimed content marketing strategy for businesses.

Content and advertisements may then be created with a tone that engages various audiences and placed on the correct media platform to capture their attention.

2. The cloud

You will be hard-pressed to find a successful business that does not have at least one aspect of their business operations posted on the cloud. Managing and processing data in the cloud is essential for the instant access of data by anyone who needs it, on any device. Especially for ecommerce businesses, a cloud-based enterprise resource planning system can improve delivery speeds, make your store more adaptable, and bring about business stability and growth.

3. Chatbots

Recognised for their customer satisfaction rates and wide-scale availability, chatbots have pivoted from limited use in call centres to wide-spread ecommerce website application. Rather than being asked questions and providing information over the phone, ecommerce websites that utilise chatbots can provide a variety of services and solutions:

24/7 assistance

Chatbots are available 24/7, day and night, to provide any answers and solutions a potential customer may enquire about. Having this automated communication can be valuable for businesses as it frees up employees to focus on other business operations, efficiently communicates with customers, and may even propose products and services.

Respond to queries

Built into a chatbot’s algorithm is what is called a decision tree. Decision trees use machine and deep learning to automate complex business processes, essentially developing, maintaining and always expanding upon a comprehensive network of if/then statements.

Send shipping and tracking information

Imagine if Amazon never remembered your address or payment information and never told you when your order is scheduled to arrive. It is a pain for customers to have to enter shipping information every time they want to order something from your ecommerce website. Additionally, it is a best practice for user experience to give a customer a timeframe for when the order will be at their doorstep.

Chatbots remember this information and can provide real-time shipping tracking details for customers. This can also help warehouse operations, as they could focus on the supply chain and fulfilling orders through their order management system rather than telling customers where their packages are.

4. Voice assistants

Not everyone searches for products and information via mouse and keyboard in the digital age. To accommodate the potential customers who don’t, businesses will need to adopt voice commerce – using voice recognition technology and allowing customers to use voice commands to find and purchase products online.

Voice assistants such as Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming increasingly popular for their convenience in searching for and purchasing products. In order to stay successful, ecommerce businesses may need to provide this technology and its benefits to capture a new wave of consumers:

Shopping lists

Customers would rather automate their continual shopping needs than frequent a website (or store) every month for their essentials. Through voice assistants, people are able to compile shopping lists – ordering what they need from where they want. This technology learns the preferences of the owners and many businesses are able to capitalise on this brand loyalty. If a voice assistant knows that a person wants a product from your store monthly, it can add it to their shopping list.

Assistive technology

In the marketing world, assistive technology and voice commerce are helping to reach a wide variety of new audiences – not just the younger generation who are using new devices, but the visually impaired as well. By using speech-to-text technology, the visually impaired can forgo the struggles of a traditional search experience, and order what they need through new and developing assistive technology.

All interconnected, AI, chatbots, and voice assistants are becoming necessary for any ecommerce business to be successful. In order to stay with the times, businesses must adapt to these new technologies which appeal better to potential and existing customers.

Find out more about integrated e-commerce software, and discover how it can benefit your business.

B2B readers, visit the Marketing Week Knowledge Bank to find out how to move more of your customers online: five B2B ecommerce tips