WHY E-COMMERCE WORKS WELL WITH AI and ERP - Peter Jonathan Wilcheck
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WHY E-COMMERCE WORKS WELL WITH AI and ERP

Why does E-commerce work well with ERP and Artificial Intelligence?

That is the question every e-commerce enterprise must ask because e-commerce does indeed work very well with ERP and Artificial Intelligence. Integrating these concepts into an online business can have such a positive impact and it will help the company to thrive in what is considered a very competitive environment. It is estimated that by the year 2020, almost 85% of e-commerce and customer interactions will be handled by ERP and AI. Therefore, implementing these functions will become an integral part of any future online business as it will create new leads and offer customers a positive interactive experience whilst using a retail platform. The concepts of ERP and AI is an innovation that every organization must use to grow with the times and advance into the future. Manufacturers and retailers are in constant competition to reach out to the customers and to coerce them into buying their products. Even the new breed of digital start-up companies are fighting for a small segment of this ever-growing seller market.

ERP and other forms of AI are substantially changing the retail world, and with new digital innovations being discovered on a regular basis, AI initiatives will continue to change the game forever more. The main aim for any online retailer is to sell their products and to keep all of their customers happy. The implementation of Artificial intelligence software such as algorithms offers a company’s clientele a personalized experience to assure customer satisfaction will be achieved.

It is anticipated that ERP and AI are both set to boost business to a very high standard indeed. Global giants like Google and Microsoft have already recognized that and invested substantially into new technological AI initiatives. The recent £400m purchase by Google of start-up company DeepMind cements that fact. It is an artificial intelligence company which specializes in algorithms and machine learning processes for positive impact. This purchase is just one of many expected acquisitions in the near future as the potential of such technology becomes a reality. Other major organizations like Facebook, IBM, and Yahoo have also jumped on the AI bandwagon and expressed that their focus is on developing AI as a new, comprehensive source of business. Albeit, many e-commerce businesses are already using AI to help them generate new leads, better understand their customers while providing an enhances customer experience. But AI is empowering more companies to develop a customer-centric experience through initiatives like voice chatbots, advanced image, and video recognition, to mention only a few. You can actually teach these applications to understand any concept. This kind of advanced technology gives businesses an edge and is available to developers or companies of any size and to fit any kind of budget. Shoppers are gradually leaving impulse control circumstances as new software programs that drive e-commerce websites create innovative voice and visual search capabilities. As well as finding matching products for the consumer, AI is also enabling customers to discover complementary products related to the purchase. Having these capabilities at your disposal will be great for any retailer. Software like that can successfully assist the buyer in finding their desired products.

In the case of ERP, (Enterprise Resource Planning). Integrating this software into your platform will streamline your processes and enhance your overall business. It has many benefits including, providing details of all website orders of products and their quantities, which ensures that all orders are dispatched on time and the inventory is adjusted to the correct stock count of each product available at any given moment. ERP will collect all customer details and keep them up to date, payment details will be reliable and extremely efficient. All shipping data will always be correct so there will be no issues concerning orders being sent to the wrong address. Basically, all actions and processes on the e-commerce website are passed through the ERP system. This gives you full control over your e-commerce platform and reduces the operational costs of the company. By automating tedious manual processes like pricing products, checking inventory levels and issuing each order, it assures that human speculation and/or error is eliminated and the correct control is restored. Sales orders are transferred directly from the online store to the ERP system which dramatically increases turnaround at a rapid rate.

ERP integration will provide data accuracy and a far greater insight into the business. All e-commerce data from your website processes and the ERP system will be extremely efficient and this will supply all sales staff with the confidence to sell what is seen as available on the enterprise computer system. Financial reporting will be accurate and business management will certainly be improved overall. Implementing ERP will take care of finance, including all accounting aspects, master data, and manufacturing. It is primarily used in a company headquarters environment, but it is usually available within the enterprise intranet for all salesforce staff to use.

Be it a global company or a small business start-up, integration of this kind will truly enable the sales and service teams by extending relevant information and data from the ERP software to the e-commerce platform. Drastically improving data accuracy and enhancing the organizations’ efficiency by automation. Therefore, the salesforce can then be entrusted with the lifecycle management of both the online sales platform and the ERP system, because the interaction between both will be extremely proficient. It is an automation tool that can certainly be trusted by all to supply data as it is and when it is needed. In any venture, having quick access to essential data can mean the distinction between remaining in a task and not having the capacity to keep up with product orders, etc.

All data should be precise and readily available. That is how the ERP framework comes into play, it will store diverse types of essential data and provide it to you with improved visibility, giving the enterprise a comprehensive view that will end deceivability in data and speculative sales stats. ERP utilizes a database management system offering real-time scalable data and business process management applications. All the information is kept in a singular database to assure workflow is stable. The software involved has various modules and web applications that are responsible for the care of many separate enterprise aspects. Applying this system to an e-commerce business will enhance performance and productivity.

The ERP system as an e-commerce entity will increase productivity in these areas:

  • Customer web portal
  • CRM & sales
  • Distribution
  • Time & projects
  • Dashboards
  • Finance
  • Manufacturing
  • Purchasing

ERP is ‘enterprise resource planning’. Integrating ERP with e-commerce will help you to manage your customer base and the work it involves much easier. It is a very reliable function due to its automation and real-time update processes. If you provide a service or sell products online, using ERP will provide the business with the efficient resources to manage revenue streams more effectively. ERP in e-commerce will focus on four important fundamental aspects of the business.

Automated customer updates: ERP will help to record important information about the business’s customers, while also providing the customer all the details about their orders and the status of each order in process. This provides customer satisfaction as they are now completely self-reliant and empowered with all the information needed to access data and purchase a product. That kind of empowerment to a customer will increase trust and seller credibility. It will also provide the customer service staff with the opportunity to deal with important problems rather than dealing with minor issues related to customer orders. ERP integration will increase productivity within the business as it will reduce the number of unrelated calls to the customer service team. Leading to a reduction in dependency on sales coordination by being able to rely on ERP automation.

Inventory levels: Inability to manage inventory levels in an online organization can be extremely frustrating and it can eventually become the downfall of a business. When an e-commerce customer orders a product, the computer system must connect to the inventory to check all products are available. ERP will track all purchases with the inventory in real-time connectivity which provides immediate information to inform the customer if the product is in or out of stock. This provides immediate customer satisfaction and keeps the reputation of the online retailer intact. Inventory level management will become cost-effective as all sales are instantly updated at the same time as the inventory levels. The business can then plan further purchases at ease, because ERP will inform via the inventory and sales stats, what products sell better than others and it will give you the data needed to assure that you order the correct amount of products that sell well, and it will also minimize back order issues which will effectively reduce administration costs and counteract the possibility of loss of business revenue.

Real-time revenue: ERP will provide automatic updates for all online sales. This will help revenue reporting run much more smoothly as the business can create a report for a certain period and determine the revenue of sales accurately at any timescale. There will be no more misreporting of revenue with ERP integration. Therefore, productivity will increase as the information needed is provided at a rapid, automated speed. It will also create better cash flows due to a reduction in both contact and quote as well as a quote to payment cycles.

Scale of demand: E-commerce functions will be automated with ERP. It will allow the company to scale up or down when needed to help resonate with customer demand. ERP software can easily work at different demand levels, leaving the retailer to concentrate on other resources. There are so many benefits from ERP integration that will seriously increase productivity in different areas of the business.

ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

ERP is one type of Artificial intelligence that can be great for business. However, AI is now embedded in our lives in the form of computer systems and self-checkouts in shops, factories, airports and many more places that we frequently use. We cannot hide from the fact that AI is here to stay and it will experience future growth. We live in a digital era with the ‘internet of everything’ and interactions such as online sales are an everyday occurrence. An e-commerce enterprise must adhere to be available to their customer base at all times, day and night, in different time zones. AI has created the opportunity to achieve this objective by enabling online businesses to be efficient and highly competent in customer service.

The impact that AI is having on e-commerce is outstanding and there are many benefits:

  • Acquisition:
  • Campaign Optimization
  • Channel Preferences Identification
  • Multi-Channel Marketing Execution
  • Re targeting
  • Predictive Marketing
  • Analysis:
  • Large Data Analysis — Understanding Customer Habits and Behaviors
  • Sentiment Analysis — Rating and Reviews
  • Back Office:
  • Counterfeit Product Detection
  • Customer Service Chatbots
  • Decision Making
  • Fraud Detection
  • Identification of Fake Reviews
  • Infrastructure Alerts and Monitoring
  • Negotiations via Intelligent AI agents
  • Product Categorization, Tagging, and Identification
  • Robotic Process Automation
  • Translation and Localization
  • Virtual AI Assistants
  • Inventory Management:
  • Assortment Selection
  • Budgeting and Forecasting
  • Smart Logistics — Restock and Replenishment
  • Internet of Things:
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Wearables — Health
  • Smart Home — Appliances and Security
  • Optimization:
  • Conversion Optimization — Evolutionary Algorithms
  • Pricing:
  • Competitive Price Monitoring — (CPM)
  • Incentive and Offer Modelling
  • Tools:
  • Customer Relationship Management — (CRM)
  • Sales Process Automation
  • Retention and Resurrection:
  • Engagement
  • Monitoring, Alerting, Notifications
  • Onboarding
  • Revenue Generating:
  • Add-ons — Cross-sell Recommendations
  • Chatbots — Conversational Commerce
  • Instant Checkout
  • Virtual Shopper/Assistant
  • Search:
  • Intelligent Search Ranking
  • Semantic Based Search
  • Visual Search
  • Voice Search

As the above list shows, there are many examples of AI at work in e-commerce offering many benefits. However, the main areas that will help an e-commerce business to thrive are:

Chatbots: AI in e-commerce cannot be discussed without referring to chatbots. An efficient e-commerce platform can now offer 24/7 assistance to customers. Chatbots are programmed to offer relevant replies to any customer issue and they have the intelligence to solve the problem without the need for human involvement. This grants the company the confidence to focus on other aspects within the organization. Chatbots are designed to simulate conversation with human users over the internet. They can actively take on important responsibilities that come with running an online business. A chatbot can execute tasks for operations and marketing as well as many other processes, like automating orders and customer service issues. It is also possible to integrate a chatbot system into shopping carts. The more carts that the chatbot application supports, the higher the potential of customers it has. Also, specific systems need shopping cart integration to retrieve information, such as product details, quantities, and shipping terms that chatbots may use to provide accurate answers to the consumers. Chatbots provide a viable and valuable customer support solution for any type of retailer.

Customer service: AI integrated into customer service can be the key to successful customer satisfaction in all areas of each purchase they make on an e-commerce website. An automated tool that features it can offer perfect customer service to the consumer concerning any issue and at any time. A satisfied customer base will likely lead to a growth in sales. AI in e-commerce is now fulfilling customer desires by automation and every business founder should implement this process into their sales and service strategies. An elevated level of satisfaction is always good for business.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management; is an AI program that can evaluate data concerning each client and predict their buying habits. It provides the customer with an excellent service by tailoring it to their needs by predictive methods based on their past interaction. The salesforce is then relieved from the task of analyzing data and they can then concentrate on creating a unique customer connotation. An AI concept like this can seriously boost online sales on a daily basis. If companies want to take their e-commerce goals a step further, they should seriously consider merging AI with their CRM. It will allow the business to personalize its solutions and create compelling sales messages that reach the consumer at exactly the right time and in the correct context and platform. Creating an effective AI-CRM integration will allow the business to respond to and answer any customer question and multitask. It helps to resolve problems and identify new opportunities for extra sales. If a company facilitates the AI system for natural learning, the customer can then interact with CRM by asking it questions and addressing any problems.

Sales & forecasting: AI can make accurate sales forecasts by analyzing user data and offering the retailer with information about consumer habits and buying patterns. It can assist in securing sales by offering automated and well-informed predictions. From a sales perspective, AI can generate Incremental Revenue with the possibility of executing cross-sell recommendations. The ability to take a product a customer has already added to their shopping cart, and then leverage AI to make further recommendations likely to be their next purchase is an extremely powerful thing that can help increase sales. It does that by collecting data based on the history of the buyer’s previous purchases with cookies, context, and demographics. Given the high level of competition amongst every domain today, it is very difficult to reach out to customers and make them buy form your platform. With AI integration, sales tend to have a habit of increasing. Deep learning, statistical programming and predictive analysis of massive data sets are now possible with AI algorithms. Predictive sales help to organize and manage the inventory, ensuring that the company is well stocked and has enough high demand products for sale to the consumers.

Affordability: Redundancies will be a thing of the past as AI automation will take care of all routine processes and offer improved marketing options. The outlay will be at a minimum because all costs will be reduced, e.g. workforce-service costs, etc.

Marketing campaigns: Platforms that include AI integration will be more advanced in handling marketing operations. Because it will analyze all performances in advertising and offer informed suggestions about budgeting options. By utilizing marketing solutions like this, the company can then make an informed decision to best fit their overall marketing strategy. AI really is having a massive effect on marketing in e-commerce. With the ability to effectively identify and communicate with customers through preferred channels. And by combining the reach and the frequency of those channels it will clear the way for more sophisticated campaigns within the company. Artificial Intelligence fully understands the channels that customers tend to use. It gathers their preferences for each channel and the information of how they interact and move between each of those channels. This data will provide improved benefits to the customer in the form of discounts and sales, recommendations and an all-around better user experience. Even the consumer who is very protective over their personal data is usually happy to share it if various and relevant products are offered in return.

Artificial Intelligence will greatly influence the growth of the online retailer. Digital commerce continues to grow at a rapid rate, and how consumers shop is always changing. E-commerce platforms must evolve too. The change is a result of more people using shopping websites instead of visiting the high streets. Consumers are now making purchases through social media platforms and using AI voice assistants to help them buy online. These new channels and assistive technologies are making it easier for the customer to shop digitally. It is also changing their shopping behavior and expectations. Retailers and big brands now have to battle to keep up with the growing demands of the modern digitally-empowered consumer. Shoppers are consciously making purchasing decisions based on how technologically innovative and advanced the channel options available are. Therefore, the brands and retailers that can quickly introduce new AI interfaces and channels, and also find new ways to make the e-commerce journey easier and as seamless as possible to the consumer can gain a significant competitive advantage over their online competition.

These shopping journeys must be designed around the expectations of today’s computer-savvy consumers in order to satisfy and retain the customer base. AI will evolve, creating more channels which will implement flexible, future-proof, Omni-channels via the e-commerce platform. Understanding what the shopper really wants is pivotal. Designing retail experiences to match the expectation of the customer will increase sales substantially, as we have already covered. AI provides the retailer with the opportunity to enter the mind of the consumer. That is why online retailers must prioritize AI technology with their e-commerce websites. Meeting the needs of each customer should be a fundamental principle behind any e-commerce design. If that means a full omnichannel approach then so be it. But maintaining consistency across all channels is an AI capability. Through innovation and calculated risks, AI provides increased agility, omnichannel integration, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and future-proofing systems. The future success for retailers will depend on their AI integration concepts and processes.

Research and markets estimate that the market for AI in retail will grow by more than $25 billion by the year 2025.

Tech companies and online retailers are increasing their AI investments ten-fold.

  • 1 out of 5 consumers are willing to buy products and services via AI chatbots.
  • Branded 3 claim that 50% of all searches by the year 2020 will be done via voice searches.
  • AI voice search will increase e-commerce revenue by more than 30% in the near future.

Implementing AI integration will enable retailers to collect large amounts of important consumer data in a very efficient automated way.

  • AI integration will reduce manual work, therefore, increasing company profit margins.
  • AI forecasts sales with great accuracy.
  • AI enabled dynamic pricing is a new disruptive force to hit the e-commerce world.
  • AI integration offers the retailer the opportunity to provide 24/7 customer service and support.
  • AI predictive product recommendation engines can correlate all data sets to make hyper-personalized selections.
  • Juniper Research studies state that by the year 2022, AI chatbots will save $8 billion annually.

Retailers that have implemented AI personalization strategies see sales gains of 6–10%, a rate that is two or three times faster than other retailers without. According to a report by BCG (Boston Consulting Group).

  • AI investments are predicted to grow by 300% by 2020.
  • It has been noted that 33% of marketing leads are not followed up by the sales team — 100% of leads are followed up by AI integration.

Access to more information, refined neural nets, and transforming power is empowering online business pioneers to comprehend their clients and new patterns in their conduct like nothing anyone’s ever seen previously.

  • Early AI adopters are already leaving their competitors behind.

Online retailers must refine their AI systems and increasingly offer more benefits to the consumer as a core offering rather than just a support feature. Companies searching for an edge over their competitors must prioritize both automation software and AI augmentation. As it provides a systematic removal of human interventions, therefore generating cost-saving functions and all-around beneficial factors to the shopper. This includes lower prices, a wider range of products and their availability, product recommendations, multi-platform chatbots, stock stability, search engine optimization, flexible subscriptions, promotional emails and faster and free shipping to the customer. That kind of beneficial technology at the retailers fingertips will revolutionize their e-commerce platforms.

Artificial Intelligence is changing the way people browse and buy products and it is changing the retail industry for the better. Paying attention to this change brought on by AI integration can make a business in any industry much more efficient. As AI develops, we anticipate that special offers on customers computer screens or smartphones will all be based on their in-store dwell time. In other words, omnichannel retailers are making progress in their ability to remarket to the customer. This kind of change in sales response directly to the consumer is like reading the mind of the person and that is all down to the data stored by AI applications. Technology like this is arming e-commerce with the timely intelligence that is required to solve all business challenges such as lead generation, etc.

The AI revolution in marketing has been spurred on by the influx of affordable and accessible advanced data analytics tools. Marketers have more insight-related tools at their disposal that facilitate true data-driven decision making because of AI applications. The infusion of AI into marketing work is aiding decision making and the automation process frees up valuable executive time. The new-breed of visionary marketing leaders must fully understand AI and how it impacts their work and the consumers buying habits. AI is considered the future of marketing, therefore, marketers must think broadly and creatively about AI-powered applications and take proactive steps to be able to ready themselves and their organizations for the future that AI integration is creating.

Predictive marketing is the way forward.

Furthermore, if a company wishes to tailor its problem-solving solutions and create strong sales messages that reach their consumers at the right time and on the right platform, then integrating AI into its CRM is the way to do it. It will allow the company’s CRM system to answer customer queries, solve all of their problems and identify new opportunities for the sales team to sell more items. Some of these advanced AI applications can even multitask to handle all other functions of the business.

There is no doubt that AI has had a massive impact on e-commerce and that it has begun to evolve the sales process evolution with new data. No longer will consumers be offered items and services that are inappropriate. Artificial intelligence is creating changes to the way a business interacts with its customer base by gaining faster access to the information needed and it also helps to harness employees talents for better use within the company. AI integration helps the business to more intelligently and efficiently scan through petabytes of enormous data which helps predict customer behavior. It then offers the individual relevant and helpful product recommendations. This level of knowledge is indispensable in delivering a personalized shopping experience. The algorithms leverage a variety of inputs, including account information, customer preferences, purchase history, third-party data, and contextual information. The dynamic sector that is e-commerce has revolutionized the way consumers tend to shop. And the desire of many businesses is to bring the very best of an offline shopping experience to the online shopping space. There is also a new and important focus in ‘hyper-personalization’, which can only be facilitated by learning genuine consumer behavior and making predictions with gargantuan amounts of data that has been collected from user activities on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Companies need to assess all of their data and understand where the data provides differentiation. Once the value within the data is understood, AI can be used to understand the relationship between the data sets and predict what will happen next. It is important for a company to have a roadmap for both the near-term and far-reaching implementations, and AI provides that roadmap. The opportunity to provide a better service to customers, understand their demands, and offer products and services with less guesswork should invigorate any company into AI consideration for their online platform.

PERSONALIZATION IS THE ABILITY TO USE MASS-CONSUMER AND INDIVIDUAL DATA TO CUSTOMIZE CONTENT AND WEB INTERFACES TO THE USER.

It is all about personalization which is nothing new in e-commerce. However. With the increasing advances in AI, including machine learning technology, deeper levels of personalization are now possible and it has started to penetrate the fast-growing, online retail world. Whether it be on a smartphone application, the e-commerce website, or an email marketing campaign, the AI engines are continuing to monitor all devices and the channels that are used by the consumer to create a universal customer view, which enables the retailer to deliver that seamless customer experience across all platforms. This technology has changed consumers expectations and commerce is now focused on building the best experience for the individual rather than the mass market.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SENSES, PREDICTS, AND AUTOMATES.

The opportunities for capitalizing on AI in e-commerce are vast.

Sentient Technologies, which is the world’s most funded AI company, is also leveraging AI systems to deliver in-the-moment personalization. Improving engagement by the consumer and increasing revenue per shopper for retailers. The company believes that AI will take a bigger role in making business decisions, creating emotive solutions, and delivering insights. As a result of that, society as a whole will become much more efficient. Sentient Technologies are enabling people to see and buy products that they were not even aware existed. The introduction of virtual personal shoppers is an example of how AI for the e-commerce industry is completely disrupting traditional consumer engagement techniques and doing it for the better. Recent intelligent agent negotiation systems have become a very popular tool that is used in the e-commerce sector. There are three main functions performed by the automated agent which are:

  • Matching buyer and sellers
  • Facilitating transactions
  • Providing institutional infrastructure

The agents are completely automated and they have full control over their actions. Each has its own communication techniques and language. The fully react to their environment and they are also capable of using their own initiative such as generating their own targets. This is artificial intelligence at its utmost brilliance.

Although the term ‘artificial intelligence’ may imply something that can be seen as negative and/or dehumanized. AI does allow retailers to provide a more personalized experience to their consumers on an individual basis. It makes it possible to analyze millions of interactions on a daily basis and ultimately target offers down to the individual customer, and that is an experience every marketer dreams of providing to the consumer.

Our world is dominated by technology and this advanced innovation is making our lives much more convenient. AI is sweeping almost every industry off its feet because all sectors are actually embracing its true potential.

— — Author Lasse Rouhiainen wrote a best selling book called “Artificial Intelligence: 101 things you must know today about our Future” This is a must read in understanding how AI has and will play an important role in our daily lives. — — —

AI demonstrates the applications and machines that are intelligent enough to perform tasks and to function on their own without human involvement. They are designed in a way that they can think and act like a human being. The current market is at an improved state because AI is creating a lot of opportunities. It is the hottest topic in almost every business sector today.

There can be no doubt that understanding that every facet of AI is empowering the way e-commerce is functioning. It is no longer in its infant stage. Its scope has expanded and continues to do so. As an online enterprise, if you want to survive and get ahead of the competition, the time for AI investment is now. The way it is changing the paradigm of business is outstanding. It is transforming the way companies interact with their customers and these initiatives can start small but will surely have a snowball effect once the beneficial factors are finally realized. It gives businesses access to information about their clientele at three different stages of the sale. Therefore businesses now basically have the ability to gain that information before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale. AI makes it possible to fine-tune the entire user experience across all spectrums in many different ways. Retailers can now zero in on specific customers with an evidenced data-driven message that is proven to provide results. Furthermore, it is making it possible to identify the customers who are more likely to buy their products through demographic data as well as their purchase history.

AI is not just a technology or another as-a-service solution. It is an ecosystem of people, advanced technologies, data, and processes. It is the logical next step in digital transformation. Over time, AI will help e-commerce driven organizations to move beyond seeing project-level benefit to being truly disruptive with augmented intelligence and capabilities.

Being AI innovative is the key to e-commerce success.

October 2018 — by Peter Jonathan Wilcheck #crm #artificial intelligence #AI #AI and CRM

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