We are deep enough into the era of big data to know that it’s not about the data; it’s about what you do with the data.
Online retail is built on big data and while those with the most data sometimes win (Amazon), those with the smart data will be the ones who will remain in the game today, tomorrow and the next day.
Retailers have been using data and algorithms for product recommendations and personalization for years. But more and more they are turning their attention to using big data in wiser ways to improve operational efficiencies and to preserve margins by holding down costs on the back end of online retail operations.
In the best cases, data gathered in the course of serving customers after they click the buy button can be fed back into the front end to drive more sales — or at least drive more sales that end with a satisfied customer, rather than a returned product. Joe Beninato, founder of chatbot company Banter, recently talked to me about the particular value of data gathered through an online retailer’s customer support channel.
You’ll get his take in the video below.
Unleashing big data and the artificial intelligence needed to digest it has a dual benefit. It improves your customers experiences by seeing to it that the right customer gets the right order without delays caused by mishandling orders or mistakenly identifying legitimate orders as fraudulent. And it provides valuable insights into weaknesses throughout the entire customer experience, from the moment a shopper hits your website until the moment they have their package in their hands.
As Beninato explains, the insights extend even beyond delivery, should a customer ultimately decide to return the item.
As far as we’ve come in the big data era, there is a ways to go. New and valuable ways to combine data with artificial intelligence seem to crop up by the day. And surveys show that while marketers, for instance, understand the potential of systems that rely on data-fueled artificial intelligence, they are still unsure of exactly what to do with the technology.
So much artificial intelligence; so little time
eMarketer, in fact, reported that a November survey by SEO company Conductor found that marketing executives said artificial intelligence, more than any other technology, was the technology they felt most unprepared to work with.
The finding is hardly shocking. Artificial intelligence is a broad and technically complex field. The good news is that there is a robust network of companies that have developed the expertise needed to best deploy AI.
Don’t be surprised to see a future in which the online retailers who benefit the most from big data and artificial intelligence are those who have thoughtfully built an AI stack provided by the best that the robust network has to offer.
Contact Mike Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.