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The Big, Bold Future of A.I. in Retail and Ecommerce

How A.I. is being used to create better shopping experiences in the present, and how it will build a more democratized experience in the future

Photo by Lukas on Unsplash

Interacting with customers requires a level of finesse and talent that is beautiful when done well, and a tough sight when done poorly. There is give and take, and you have to flow through various movements and ups and downs to reach a satisfying end result. It’s like a dance. A tango if you will. At least, that’s how the folks over at LivePerson see it.

Alex Spinelli is the CTO and EVP of product, technology, and operations at LivePerson, and he broke down what that dance should look like, and how A.I. is taking the lead. As Spinelli explained, LivePerson is a set of tools, technologies and platforms, that enable businesses to have conversations with customers through messaging channels, and to detect where customers may be getting stuck or frustrated.

“The whole platform lets you never get stuck,” Spinelli said. “So you can have a conversation, it can be part of an automation, you can be looking at a product, you can be asking questions to a bot about the size, color, compatibility, etc. And then when you get stuck, we can actually detect that and route you immediately to a person, a real human being that can help you. And we call that the tango.”

As the dance moves from a smooth-flowing automated conversation toward a more frustrated customer, a small immediate intervention from LivePerson’s A.I. routes that customer to a human who can make the buying process easier. It is a way to get to a better end result more often, and it works. Businesses using LivePerson have seen double-digit-percentage-point improvement in conversions and higher NPS scores than ever.

But the power of A.I. doesn’t end there, and Spinelli dove into where we are headed with A.I. as a tool in retail, including in building more blended experiences virtually and in-person.

“Because digital is a necessity not a convenience, we’re starting to see a little breakage of the flat experiences,” Spinelli said. “So I think the big opportunities are around how can we really help people discover… To me, that’s all about actually modeling the behaviors that we would have in real life. We’re going to go back to stores, we’re going to go back to malls, but they’re going to be changed up, they’re going to be very different. I think we’re going to see conversations in the digital world follow us in and try to fill in the gaps and start to really help us in a much more blended way.”

While A.I. will be a force for good, there are always ethical questions to consider when mixing technology and data sourcing tools into people’s everyday lives. How much is too much and what kind of permissions should we be giving to brands and their technology?

Spinelli thinks that those are questions consumers will have to get more serious about answering. And they will need to take a more active role in participating in the process of curation and explaining buying intent.

“I think we’re going to start to ask consumers to express their needs and ask what do you want?” Spinelli said. “What are you looking for? Can you define your ecosystem of things that you like and appreciate? And then we’re going to ask your permission to actually bring others too. And you’re going to set standards, like, ‘I really only want to hear from companies that have certain social stances, or I only want to hear from companies that have certain environmental stances.’ So I think it’s really all about empowering the consumer to define things. It’s a little more work, and I think that’s the thing that’s going to be interesting to see. Because I think we as consumers have gotten very lazy — it’s just like, ‘I want to scroll and you’re going to send me stuff.’ I think we’re going to have to be asking consumers for a little bit more work to define those things and tell us more so that we can give them things that are much more open, honest and transparent.”

To hear more about how A.I. will impact our shopping behaviors, check out Spinelli’s full interview on Up Next in Commerce.

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

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