Views and announcements

Is artificial intelligence the future of e-commerce?

  • By Loran Gutt, VP of Corporate Development at Bazaarvoice

    Ever since ‘The Terminator’ was released back in 1984, there’s been slight apprehension surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).

    However, they’ve been a part of our lives for years, whether we’ve realized it or not. AI has been helping power commercial airplanes’ autopilot functionality since 1914. Today, facial-recognition technology, spam filters, and mobile check deposits all use AI and AR to make consumers’ lives easier.

    Now brands and retailers are tapping into this technology to improve the customer shopping experience. Shopping from home has just got a lot more exciting!

    The beauty industry was an early adopter of in-store AI and AR. Brands like Sephora and Ulta have used AI technology for years to allow customers to virtually try on different shades of lipstick and eyeshadow.

    As the technology becomes more powerful and e-commerce companies more adventurous, customers can have the same experience at home, in the car, or anywhere they have an internet connection.  

    RELATED: Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence with High-Performance Computing

    More and more e-commerce brands and retailers are using AI and AR to create virtual fitting rooms and other online experiences. Data from companies that provide the technology say it has helped reduce return rates by 36%.

    We’ve been watching this trend closely over the past year. Here are some of the more exciting artificial intelligence e-commerce use cases.

    NARS Cosmetics’ virtual try-on app uses a shopper’s camera to instantly detect the contours of the face. As shoppers click on shades of lipstick, bronzer, and eyeshadow, the makeup is superimposed on their lips, cheeks, and eyes.

    Eyewear brand Warby Parker was an early adopter of AR. Its app, which allows shoppers to see how each frame will fit their face, was named one of Apple’s 10 best apps in 2016. Shoppers can click through different styles and colours to see which best complements their face shape. Once they’ve picked their favourites, Warby Parkers allows shoppers to select five frames to try on at home for free. 

    RELATED: Is artificial intelligence the future of journalism?

    Retail chain Kohl’s partnered with the social media network Snapchat to create its Augmented Reality Virtual Closet. Snapchat users can select from a variety of Kohl’s products and “try on” items through the app. They can also make purchases through Snapchat. 

    Before the pandemic, the athletic brand Adidas launched a virtual solution that allows shoppers to try on shoes through the brand’s app. Shoppers point their camera at their feet and can see how the shoes might look in real life. Shoppers can then purchase the item through the Adidas app.

    Like many trends, the Covid pandemic has accelerated this transformation. Between concerns of the virus and local restrictions, shoppers are unable or unwilling to visit their favourite brick-and-mortars. Some people may now be hesitant to enter dressing rooms, try on clothes that were recently worn by others, or use communal jars of Q-tips and tissues. AI and AR offer these consumers a realistic alternative.

    Artificial intelligence’s role in the e-commerce market has certainly accelerated due to the pandemic. Consumers are now much more receptive to non-contact services. However, the pandemic has also demonstrated that bricks-and-mortar stores are still a valuable part of our social lives and will not disappear entirely any time soon.

    About the author

    An article that is attributed to Sync NI Team has either involved multiple authors, written by a contributor or the main body of content is from a press release.

    Got a news-related tip you’d like to see covered on Sync NI? Email the editorial team for our consideration.

    Sign up now for a FREE weekly newsletter showcasing the latest news, jobs and events in NI’s tech sector.

Share this story