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How AI is Disrupting Ecommerce and What You Should Do About It

Published on Friday, March 31, 2023

AI has been quietly making leaps and bounds for years now – you just didn’t notice it. Remember IBM Watson on Jeopardy? Over a decade ago, people were wowed by the fact that a supercomputer with a language model could beat some of the longest tenured Jeopardy superstars. The interest faded though, because nobody had access to the technology.

All of that changed in November of 2022, when ChatGPT came out. As of now, it’s the fastest product to reach 100 million users – in just 2 months. For comparison, it took TikTok 9 and a half months to reach this mark. ChatGPT has made AI tooling mainstream and accessible, and has led to an explosion of new tools and applications for AI LLMs (Large Language Models).

Much of the new tech rolling out right now can benefit ecommerce companies in a big way – you just have to know how to use it. Let’s take a look at a few very recent ways that AI is disrupting how we think about ecommerce and what you can do about it.

 

Product content is getting easier to create

According to Shopify, there are millions of products for sale across their platform that don’t even have a description. We’ve seen this many times first hand – it greatly hurts SEO, user experience, and conversion rate. If you’ve got thousands of products, it can be very time consuming to ensure that each one gets an adequate description written.

Now, you can use Shopify Magic to automatically generate missing product descriptions (along with many other tools). As with any AI content generation, the right prompts are key. You’ll want to have a few specific product details and keywords that you want to rank for, but with that input you can get a good product description out effortlessly in just a few seconds.

 

AIs will shop for people (sort of)

OpenAI’s ChatGPT recently announced that  plugins are coming to the platform. These will be tools designed by third parties that leverage OpenAI’s LLM to access up-to-date information on the web. This eliminates one of the biggest downsides of the model – the fact that it was trained on data that only goes through late 2021.

How does this impact online shoppers? Well, Shopify is one of those initial partners, and they’re creating a specific “Shop” plugin for ChatGPT. This plugin will be able to search millions of products online based on prompts from the user, and return back recommendations based on its research.

Speaking of research, the research phase of the product purchasing process can also be delegated to AI with these new plugins. The new “browsing” plugin allows users to ask questions and ChatGPT will search for the answers online for them. Here’s an example of this regarding the Oscars:

 

chatgpt predicts oscars

 

What we think this means is that eventually some consumers will delegate this research to AI tools/assistants. This could save hours of manually looking through sites to get the information you need to make a purchase decision. Instead, the AI can give you a report of all the details/pros/cons/decision points you need from looking online itself.

These tools are only in alpha as of the end of March 2023, but you can prepare for their rollout now. Quality content is critical for these plugins to be able to find you through search and return relevant information back to the people who are delegating to them. Since content is getting easier to write per our first point, there’s no reason not to be making sure your products stand out with great copy and keywords. It’s also important with all of this to double check that AI is able to effectively summarize your content – so there’s some extra steps needed in the process of publishing content meant for user research in terms of double checking how AI will interpret it.

 

Generating ideas and promotions for products is easier than ever

The idea stage of product creation and promotion can be challenging. How do we create something that stands out in a crowded, noisy marketplace? Well, AI image generation tools are here to help with that problem. Bing just recently added a very good image generator to its “Bing Chat” tool (which leverages OpenAI’s GPT model). When you couple this with the fact that Bing Chat can access the internet via search, you can get some really interesting results in terms of product ideas and concepts very quickly.

For instance, let’s say we’re interested in creating a new, trendy running shoe that we plan to sell online. We can ask Bing to do some research for us, and come up with a few concepts:

 

bing image generator

 

These are quite good. A zoom in on one of these shows near photo-realistic quality:

 

bing image generator - sneaker

 

These images, generated in seconds, could give us a valuable starting point in terms of brainstorming and ideation, and could look great going into a proposal deck for our brand new running shoe ecommerce brand.

But wait, there’s more. What if we want to get some ideas for a creative promotional graphic for these shoes?

I asked, “Can you make a futuristic looking idea for a banner ad image for the running shoes?” Here’s what I got back:

 

ai sneaker ad

 

Is it wonky? Yep. Is it pretty cool though? Also yep. This could be something a creative team could take inspiration from in terms of a style for an initial campaign to promote these shoes.

 

What you should do with this

Competition in the ecommerce space is going to keep heating up with the rise of these tools. With easier content creation and faster ideation cycles in particular, the barriers to entry are getting lower for those who want to break into the market and do something different.

All of these tools have one thing in common – they’re as effective as the people driving them. At LimeLight, we’ve poured many hours of research into these tools and trends and how to best leverage them for our clients. We can supercharge your ecommerce strategy with AI, because our creative and technical experts are leading the way.

Most importantly, we don’t just dive into AI without a compass. LimeLight has a carefully crafted AI policy which ensures that our decision-making process remains aligned with our core values. By combining the strength of our skilled experts with the cutting-edge capabilities of AI, LimeLight is poised to help you navigate the competitive waters of ecommerce and emerge as a leader in the space. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together and redefine the future of ecommerce. Reach out to start a conversation today.

 

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John Kuefler LimeLight Marketing
John Kuefler
Senior Director of Digital Experience, Partner