Artificial Intelligence: Backbone of Fashion E-Commerce Platforms
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We live in an era of uber-connectivity where tech devices, tools, and cellphones have become indispensible. The growth of online retail shopping and fashion culture in India has been seen as one of the most outstanding outcomes of technology proliferation across the country. At the cusp of another e-commerce boom or revolution, several online start-ups are now thriving (both in metros and Tier II cities), and trying to bring in a fresh wave of disruptive technological progression across the nation.
While India’s rendezvous with digital transformation will continue for another decade or so, it is time we sit up and take a moment to realize the importance of technologies that are giving us real value and are worth investing in. And when we talk about such landmark technologies on the online frontier, artificial intelligence (AI) is one thing that comes at the top of my mind.
How AI Really Works in the Online World?
Let me begin with a very common example. Have you ever wondered how Facebook Business works? The world’s largest social media platform builds business with the help of insightful machine learning strategies for its users and packaging and classifying this data in turn for advertisers. The text analysis and image recognition capabilities of Facebook, powered by AI, also help it in understanding algorithms, based on which the content appears on any user’s News Feed. Now, all of this analysis is being done with near-human accuracy, giving a real boost to the platform’s increasing popularity day by day.
A large share of AI is presently being used to make future choices by adapting and learning from past experiences. In the world of online businesses, this necessarily translates to identifying and putting thrust on consumer preferences or priorities. No wonder, Artificial Intelligence tools and methods can in fact be sometimes seen as even smarter than human beings, or at least that is what it seems apparently!
E-commerce based fashion brands and start-ups always have the interesting opportunity to retain an online customer they have acquired, but the difficult part is probably to figure out ‘how that is possible? Today, remarketing is an interesting way to go back to the ‘once upon’ visitors on your website who may not have made necessarily an immediate purchase, but have spent some time and lend some of their impulses in the hands of AI. In fact, in the online marketplace atmosphere, the power of AI is multiplied, and it can be used in a plethora of ways—for differentiating your quality of sales from competitors, for digging up product-search algorithms in a more convenient manner, for creating newer suggestions to your online customer and even for positioning your brand in a more prolific manner!
Online Fashion Industry ‘High on AI’
Subtlety and innovation are the core of all AI-powered marketing techniques; even though the results may not show immediately, it would not be an exaggeration to say that AI is slowly yet steadily shaping the way customers shop apparel and other lifestyle products online. Off late, we have seen many e-commerce websites adopting deep learning (a part of AI) to help people find what they are seeking over the long-term, and unlike when done manually, there is negligible scope of error in the analysis. It doesn’t only end there.
To bring this closer to online retail experience, online shopping websites are nowadays even recommending products based on a person’s buying history or requirement. For instance, the next time you shop a pink lehenga from an e-tailer, the very same day the website may show you some matching artificial jewelry sets to complement your outfit.
AI enables every e-retailer to provide enriching and game-changing experiences to their customers, and that too, without compromising on their online security at all (some of these high-end technologies do not even need to physically browse the online store to synthesize the data).While some may say that all of this is unnecessary voyeurism into human minds, in reality it earns loyalty and delight from a large pool of customers. It’s no rocket science why—everyone in the online universe nowadays wants a personalized service experience, and embracing AI-driven insights into your online fashion brand’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) agenda leaves your brand empowered.
Besides, a lot of e-com fashion websites are nowadays overloaded with orders and sheer sales volumes become difficult to manage; this is where adequate customization and segmentation can help reach operational efficiency up to the optimum level, all thanks to AI. According to reports, solely artificial intelligence-based start-ups in India have now even started partnering with e-commerce platforms for providing the latter’s back-end technology support, and such synergies are bringing the best of both worlds online.
The Way Forward
According to an Assocham-Forrester study, the current estimated revenue of Indian e-commerce is about USD 38 Billion and is projected to hit USD 120 billion by 2020, at a surprising annual growth rate of around 51%. Increasing internet and mobile penetration, the digital revolution initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and favourable demographics have provided e-commerce industry in India the unique opportunity to grow like never before. Also, within retail e-commerce, apparel is the fastest growing segment. Every third query coming up on search engines like Google is now related to fashion.
We all know that careful application of science and technology can make any business metrics interesting. Keeping in sync with the likes of other new-age technologies such as virtual reality, Big Data, and wearable tech, artificial intelligence is poised to unleash the next big wave of opportunities in online selling, and more so, for small and medium-sized brands. Although it may sound fascinating, it is not very difficult to comprehend.
Recent advances in AI technology have created several components in the sphere such as robotics, computer vision, virtual agents, and automated machine learning. At least one of these technologies has marked its footstep in almost all the online shopping or other mobile applications we are using every day.
The promise of AI has been on the horizon for years now; it is now up to start-ups, brands and netizens to collectively understand the potential and make best use of it, with an eye on in-house research and innovation over the long-term.