New AI Tools Help Level the Playing Field for Retailers | E-Commerce


By Jack M. Germain

Jun 10, 2021 5:00 AM PT

Artificial intelligence may well be the Holy Grail solution for more effective shopping optimization for merchants. AI comes in many forms and different options. Clearly one size does not fit all marketing needs.

One up-and-coming solution takes a more low-key approach to put AI to work for retailers. Fast Simon last month unveiled a new JavaScript (JS) software development kit or SDK for its AI shopping optimization solution.

Another AI-driven platform for online retailers focuses on using visual data to drive conversions. Vizit’s AI platform helps e-commerce marketers see things through the eyes of their consumers. This enables the marketers to optimize their visual brands and know which product images will successfully motivate their targeted consumers to purchase online.

Fast Simon’s SDK needs less than 10 lines of code. With it, merchants can use the SDK to integrate the company’s platform with any custom e-commerce front end to drive increases in average order value (AOV) and conversion.

The new Vue.JS and React-ready JS SDK deliver frictionless integration of Fast Simon with headless commerce. Combined with the company’s self-managed dashboard, merchants gain complete control of critical retail functions like merchandising, search, A/B testing, collection filters, personalization, and visual discovery powered by e-commerce-optimized machine learning, as well as upsell and cross-sell product recommendations.

“Merchants compete on creative and engaging front-end shopping experiences that can rapidly adapt to new retail and consumer behaviors. There is no time for tedious coding that slows deployment,” said Zohar Gilad, CEO at Fast Simon.

The new SDK delivers the best of both worlds. Merchants and their creative agencies gain full control of the consumer-facing experience. Plus, they gain a simplified back-end integration of the Fast Simon AI shopping optimization platform, he explained.

Near Limitless Uses

The list is almost endless when you tally the potential uses for AI in commerce and e-commerce, noted Gilad. It can be anywhere, from classification issues like recommendations to search and merchandising personalization. It also aids retailers in things like optimization, modeling, and visual modeling.

“It makes virtual try-on work. People can try on things, virtually at home, experience augmented reality, insights, and forecasting,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “A key feature AI brings to retail is visual discovery, being able to interact with commerce through imagery.”

The really important thing about AI is its ability to enable retailers, small businesses, and also enterprises to compete with the Amazons of the world, noted Gilad. E-tail giants the likes of Amazon and Walmart have almost endless resources of technology that help them be even more competitive.

AI democratizes that by providing the other merchants with the cutting-edge technology that helps them compete. Most merchants, even the very large brands, do not have the engineering armies that Amazon has.

“If you look at the competition, you have the very big brands that do have engineering and do have access to technology and all the others who do not,” Gilad said, noting that his company’s AI solution brings this technology to the retail masses via a software as a service (SaaS) at an affordable cost.

New Uses for AI in E-commerce

AI enables image optimization and visual brand building that drive retail e-commerce, according to Jehan Hamedi, the CEO and founder of Vizit. His company uses a proprietary AI platform to turn retailers’ image-based content and designs into a tool that attracts and converts customers.

Perhaps the most significant new use for artificial intelligence in e-commerce is AI-driven analysis and understanding of more complex data and consumer behavior. These tools are beginning to surface in retail e-commerce, he said.

“First-generation AI technology applications for the digital shelf synthesized large amounts of information around product pricing, availability, and searchability. The newest technology is being utilized to solve more complicated problems and develop more sophisticated solutions for brands adapting to the steep rise in online shopping,” Hamedi told the E-Commerce Times.

Vizit is the first visual AI system for retail e-commerce that can unlock the power of visual data to motivate transactions, he explained. It generates predictive visual consumer insights on what consumers want and need to see in order to convert. It also studies the massive streams of content shoppers see across the internet.

Personalized Sales Coaching

AI can be a powerful weapon when competing for wins in-store or on the digital shelf, according to Hamedi. Insights delivered by AI show you exactly what to do to sell more products.

“AI takes the traditional weeks- or months-long research processes and condenses them into algorithms that deliver valuable consumer insight in just minutes. This is the efficiency and the scale that both brands and e-retailers need to convert consumers at the speed of digital commerce,” he said.

With so many products and digital images available to today’s shoppers, gathering meaningful data would take excess money and more time than anyone has on traditional surveys and focus groups to gain sufficient insight, noted Hamedi. Without the help of technology like AI, it is an impossible task.

“AI delivers needed insights at 1/100th the cost and 1,000 times the speed and with equivalent accuracy,” he said.

Better Than AI-Powered Voice Gadgets

Hamedi sees the biggest hurdle with AI in the enterprise as a lack of awareness and understanding of how to use the data to help inform decision making. It is just new and different.

For example, Amazon’s Alexa is a household name in voice AI. Many retailers have adopted its technology and its APIs to develop better, more personalized shopping experiences that are very effective. Visual AI platforms such as Vizit’s has the potential to create a monumentally larger impact on e-commerce compared to voice AI, Hamedi believes.

“Humans are visual creatures. People buy based on what we see, and they eat with their eyes,” he said.

The performance of your company’s visual brand matters more than anything else to e-commerce marketers in 2021 and beyond. Visual content optimization also happens to be the fastest path to conversion and sales growth, based on Vizit’s research, noted Hamedi.

Content Is King

The biggest opportunity for AI in retail is in content. Right now, content selections and the visual assets you see on product detail pages for the biggest and most sophisticated companies in the world are still based mostly on gut feel and subjective decisions, observed Hamedi.

“AI brings new science-based data and insight to the creative and brand leaders who are seeking to present their products in the most compelling and convertible light possible. When your product content is competing for fractions of a second of a consumer’s time, you need the smartest and fastest technology to make sure that content is working as hard as possible for your brand,” he offered.

AI is the next big thing in bringing a better customer experience (CX) to shoppers via mobile connections. Creating the most effective mobile shopping experience ultimately starts and stops with the quality of product images that are presented to consumers, noted Hamedi.

In this environment, an image is the first moment of truth and the gateway to purchasing consideration. To improve the mobile shopping experience, both brands and retailers need to invest and think differently about their CX on e-commerce.

Retailers should not just display a product page with basic product information and an image. It needs to be an immersive experience with a visual brand that must be optimized for the highest possible performance, Hamedi recommended.

“Brands also need to invest in new, and more data-centric technologies. The most powerful of these technologies are artificial intelligence software systems because they are the only systems that can keep up with the speed, and visually centric appetites, of digital-centric consumers,” he said.



Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.



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