Artificial intelligence, real profits

Article tagged with: Innovation

Retailers understand better than most businesses that it’s all about the return on investment. There’s no room for technology investments that don’t have a clear path to impact on metrics that matter, including customer loyalty, basket sizes, and – for bricks and mortar retailers – footfall. That’s why we were glad to see the focus in the 2018 E-Commerce Trends & Tech Brand Growth Guidebook was on finding the profitability in technology investments.

The whole report is worth a read. You’ll find it a good complement to everything else you’re consuming right now about must-know trends like voice search, the mobile shopper and the nebulous but all-important customer experience, drawing shoppers in-store with the promise of hands-on tools, classes, and videos that cement that relationship, and convert browsers to buyers. 

But what most drew our attention is the focus on AI and machine learning. Just because AI and machine learning are some of the most technological-sounding technologies out there, that doesn’t mean they can be put on the back burner or ignored altogether. Quite the opposite. AI and machine learning are about finding the signal in a sea of data noise about customers and their transactions.

Smart, personalized recommendations

Remember how Amazon changed the game forever with “people who bought X also bought Y”? This artificial intelligence was a proto-version of what’s becoming the next generation of supersmart recommendation engines, predicting and offering pertinent additional purchases to the shopper.

Customers are hungry for personalization – as long as it’s balanced against the creepy factor of overly intrusive marketing – and that means you’re going to need to extract the data that allows you to understand and market to the individual…at scale. It’s possible. You just need the right tools.

As the report explains, AI can let you unlock the data about who you are targeting and who you should be targeting, and help you with segmentation according to criteria like demographics or shopping preferences.

When the retailer met RankBrain

Few companies are investing more in AI and machine learning than Google: the article touches on how plain old search engine optimization (SEO) is giving way to Google’s machine learning system RankBrain, which helps Google re-sort and refine its organic search results based on how users interact with those results. 

All that means is this: if you’re promising web visitors that your site has a fantastic resource on how to customize and build their own T-shirt, it better be the best darned content on customizing and building their own T-shirt, or users will quickly bounce away, and RankBrain will demote you in the organic listings.

Just because AI and machine learning are some of the most technological-sounding technologies out there, that doesn’t mean retailers can put them on the back burner or ignore them altogether.

What’s your strategy for integrating AI and machine learning in your business, and your marketing, in 2019?

For more insights from the 2018 E-Commerce Trends & Tech Brand Growth Guidebook you can click here, or see



ROI Revolution. (2018). The 2018 Ecommerce Trends and Technology Guidebook. [online]


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