Technology is constantly progressing and evolving. This progress helps to change many facets of society. The business world is one place where this change is most noticeable. New technology allows business owners to slash overhead, increase efficiency and market to customers in new creative ways.

Something that is helping to create this change is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, refers to computer software and machines that have the ability to learn and make decisions based on that acquired knowledge. AI has been adapted for many different industries. In fact, 31 percent of companies are planning to integrate AI into their business.

One industry that has benefited greatly from AI is retail. Online retail, in particular, has gained a lot from the use of artificial intelligence. Below are some of the ways AI can be used by online retailers.

More Informed Advertising

One way AI can make a big difference for online retail is through more informed sales attempts. This is done through the acquisition of data regarding a person’s background as well as their preferences. For example, each time a person purchases a product through the store, data regarding the sale is saved and then fed into an ad generator that uses AI. Instead of the customer being targeted with ads for random products, they are instead targeted with ads that are somehow related to what they purchased previously.

This can be a much more effective means of advertising than generic ads that do not take into account the individual consumer’s own tastes and preferences. Instead, the ads are tailored for each individual customer. This can increase the number of conversions substantially.

More Informed Suggestive Selling

It’s also excellent information to have for suggestive selling techniques used to convince consumers to add more to their shopping cart before they check out. This is the strategy Thrive Market uses for its online store. If your shopping cart total is below the amount needed to qualify for free shipping, the website will make suggestions for products to add to the cart to make up the difference. The products chosen are picked out by AI based on that customer’s data.

Subtle suggestive selling techniques like this are excellent ways to get consumers to spend more at your store. 90 percent of consumers say that the possibility of free shipping is their number one incentive to shop at a particular online store.

Digital Service Representatives

To increase efficiency and lower costs, many companies are looking for different ways to automate jobs traditionally performed by human beings. While the idea of an automated service representative seems like something out of bad science fiction or even a comedy routine, in certain cases, using AI to perform basic service tasks can be effective.

For example, instead of only having a generic Frequently Asked Questions page on a website for an online store that may not actually answer a user’s specific question, a chat bot that is informed by AI can be loaded through a pop-up window. The customer then talks to the chatbot through typed text and asks it questions. The bot will attempt to answer the questions based on the data it has access too as well as information it learns from the conversation.

If the bot can’t answer the question, the customer can be forwarded to a human being that can. Overall, the customer should know they aren’t talking to a human being. The reliance on AI for basic service will only increase in the future. For example, in Japan some companies are using actual robots to perform some basic service functions.

Artificial intelligence can do amazing things. It can allow a computer program to learn new information and make decisions based on that knowledge. It can also help to replicate the same kind of thinking human beings do so that a program can effectively communicate with customers. Overall, there are many ways AI can be integrated into online retail to improve sales and customer service.