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What You Need to Know About AI to Stay Ahead of the Competition

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What You Need to Know About AI to Stay Ahead of the Competition
 
AI is increasingly being incorporated into businesses to help them engage better with customers and ultimately boost sales output and profit margins. 
 
This article will explore what a business owner needs to know about AI in order to stay ahead of competitors. 
 
 
How Is AI Used In Business?
 
AI is being deployed, more and more, by businesses to ensure they communicate as effectively as possible with customers at every stage of a customer’s interaction with their business, whether it is in stores, via apps or on a website. 
 
Some brands are erecting large screens with AI “personal assistants” available in their stores to answer common questions that customers might have, like about the layout of the store, stock levels and opening times. 
 
AI is also being used to give customers a more personal experience of engaging with brands. This increases the chances that these customers are going to make unplanned purchases, as the interaction can make personal recommendations that are suited to the customer, based on data captured on the first interaction between AI and the customer. 
 
An example is the “magic chair” used by makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury. Customers sit in the chair and a large image of their face is projected in front of them, in the “magic mirror”. The image can be altered to show what certain products will look like on, dispensing with the need for customers to apply and remove makeup. The process allows customers to make a more informed choice about what products are best suited to them. When the customer has made a final selection about what they like, the magic mirror will generate a set of personalised recommendations for them, including products that complement the products they have decided to purchase. 
 
Brands like Adidas are using AI to make the fitting room experience better for the customer, with large screens available to enable customers to check stock and colour options and order sizes and colours that may be out of stock. Some brands allow the customer to make contact with a member of staff in the store, dispensing with the need to remove and replace clothes to go back out into the store to get a different size or colour option. 
 
More and more businesses are replacing repetitive tasks with automation. A case in point is price monitoring. Manual price monitoring is an arduous and repetitive task, and the norm in business, now, is for price monitoring software to be used. This works by scouring the internet for the exact same and similar products and giving a daily breakdown on what prices are being charged for different products. 
 
In addition variables like post and packing costs, and promotions can be monitored daily. All this ensures a better understanding of price viz a viz the pricing strategies of direct competitors. Moreover, automated price monitoring using AI frees up executive to concentrate on more important, and potentially productive tasks.  
 
So, what are some AI essentials that businesses are implementing to get ahead of the competition? We review some pointers in the next part of this article. 
 
 
Re-targeting Of Market Leads 
 
AI helps businesses make the most out of situations where it is beneficial to re-target the marketing process. An example of this is where a basket of shopping has been abandoned by a shopper. AI can be used to remind the shopper of this basket in a few days, or weeks. This helps to drive sales, as people will often abandon sales just so they can think about the purchase, or so they can compare and contrast different products. As such, AI makes it easy for the shopper to gain access to the products they already selected and actually make a purchase. 
 
 
Personalisation 
 
There is much discussion of personalisation in the world of e-commerce sales. This is where an app or a website app makes a series of personal recommendations for the customer concerned, based on information they have input in the app, or in an online registration tool. AI is typically used to makes these recommendations. 
 
A personal set of recommendations is a much more influential way of selling, as the process immediately excludes products and services that are likely to be of limited interest to the customer concerned. 
 
For example, AI can be used to make customers shopping for local experiences more personal. Software captures information about the customers and then predictions are made about what they may or may not be interested in. These predictions form the basis of recommendations that are more likely to interest the customer.
 
Additionally, automated personalisation can be used to deliver promotions and offers that are of particular interest to the consumer based on their personal characteristics.
 
 
Fake Reviews
 
Reviews are one of the most important aspects of advertising. Products with positive reviews sell much better than those without any reviews, or with too many negative reviews. 
 
Research on the influence of reviews on consumer buying behaviour supports this, with a recent study showing that 90% of those surveyed reporting that positive online reviews influenced their buying behaviour. 86% of those surveyed in the same study reported that negative reviews influenced their buying decisions. 
 
With reviews being such an important aspect of the sales process, businesses are struggling to deal with the problem of fake reviews. Fake reviews can be anything from spam reviews where the reviewer is merely attempting to sell another product, or a review may be false or misleading. 
 
AI is helping businesses to tackle this problem. AI can scour the review section of the site and immediately flag suspicious reviews or content. These can be instantly removed, or provide the site administrator with an alert so a human can review the content. 
 
Other ways to combat fake reviews are to place a higher emphasis on verified purchases, or more trusted sources of reviews. AI can place verified reviews higher up in the review results, which reduces the chances that someone will even see a suspicious review. 
 
 
Complementary Products
 
Websites like Amazon rely heavily on suggestions of complementary products created by AI. So, for example if someone places a computer in their shopping basket, the website or app will be optimised to suggest further purchases to complement that purchase, so computer accessories like laptop cases or laptop covers might appear as suggestions. 
 
 
Counterfeiting
 
For retailers selling second hand products, the issue of counterfeiting is a big problem. In particular for online reseller or seller applications, trust is a major factor that draws in or repels customers. 
 
AI, for example, machine learning is being implemented to help to identify and remove counterfeit listings. Software is used to collate historical examples of and features of counterfeiting that can be replicated by fraudsters and these assist in ensuring that counterfeit products are identified and removed quickly. 
 
 
Chatbots 
 
Chatbots help businesses automate important sales and customer service processes, for example offering assistance with checkout or checking, and reordering stock. 
 
They add a personal element to the interaction between a brand and their customers. In addition they provide an easy method of communication between the brand and customers browsing the site. 
 
Selling through wearable technology 
AI integrated with wearable technologies like fitbits and sat navs has a unique advantage in terms of its sales potential – the customer is wearing it so you have their attention almost 24/7! 
 
Moreover, these types of technologies collate and capture vital personal information about a consumer that can then be used to predict what products and services may interests them, so for example a fitbit stores information on personal characteristics like gender and can easily predict whether the person wearing it is interested in factors like weight loss, or muscle maintenance. 
 
Businesses are exploiting this to their advantage to make an even more personal set of recommendations to customers using wearable technologies. 
 
 
Robots 
 
Businesses, particularly those with large premises and the requirement to search for and transport heavy items are enlisting the help of AI in the form of robots to assist customers in their stores. 
 
Some businesses have robots that greet customers at the door of their store, and offer them directions and assistance. Some of these robots will even assist in finding and carrying heavy items. Not only does this free up human assistants to tackle more complex issues, it ensures that customers don’t have to wait or queue up to get their queries answered. 
 
 
What You Need To Know About AI To Stay Ahead Of The Competition
 
AI is a growing importance to businesses, even the smaller SMEs. Its huge advantage is in the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks (like personalisation of product recommendations, price monitoring of competitor products and answering frequent queries in store like directions and stock options) that are nonetheless necessary to generate leads and make sales more effectively. 
 
Nevertheless AI is an expensive route through which to achieve sales and marketing goals so the real challenge for businesses is to identify precisely what AI applications would be of the greatest assistance to a specific business, brand or product. 
 
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