Artificial intelligence continues to reshape interactive ways to heighten the online shopping experience. New technological advances will allow online shopping to mirror the experiences in physical stores, and eBay’s
What generative AI means for retail
Many companies are looking at ways to use generative AI to help with consumer shopping, selecting products, and purchasing. It can be a game changer for online commerce. Shopping online can be very transactional and not have a natural flow like shopping in a store might have. Exploratory shopping in a physical store may include looking at visual displays, and how merchandise is presented often leads to a journey that is unplanned and full of unexpected discoveries. Generative AI can replicate this type of shopping online, where the five senses play more of a role in the experience. “Generative AI seamlessly connects the thread between buyers and sellers depending on the intent and would mimic much more how a physical store associate would navigate a shopper interaction,” said Mekel-Bobrov. He also discussed how the conditions of a consumer search online for products could be better and more intelligently interpreted with generative AI. While the technology is not yet in widespread use by the retail industry, it has the potential to make consumer shopping online much more vibrant and interconnected.
Real-time personalization is a game-changer for marketers
Personalization has moved from a buzzword a decade ago to what is now considered real-time analytics on individual shopping journeys. “For e-commerce, personalization was based on personas, then moved to archetypes which is a micro-segment of customers, and now companies are utilizing individualized personalization,” said Mekel-Bobrov. Shoppers using social media and like something they see can experience tailored searches in real-time based on what they just liked. Personalization becomes unique to each individual and not a micro-segment of customers and not based on a persona. “Technology plus a plethora of data equals high personalization,” said Mekel-Bobrov. Only recently has it been possible for marketers to react to real-time interactions.
Immersive experiences make online shopping more engaging
Last month, eBay announced a strategic partnership with Notable Live, a digital platform that fosters exceptional fan experiences. Combining eBay’s collectibles marketplace with Notable Live’s interactive “in the room” experience will enhance how fans and sports collectors engage with players, leagues, and teams. Mekel-Bobrov discussed how eBay believes in reducing the gap between physical and online experiences to transform the shopping journey. “Online companies are synonymous with the dot com name, like eBay.com, and are accustomed to interacting with customers in a transactional manner which is why we recently launched Live Commerce,” said Mekel-Bobrov. Sellers can perform live streaming events through eBay’s apps and website, creating higher engagement and direct interactions with buyers, bringing together socialization, entertainment, and shopping.
Use cases for the metaverse are still being explored
The metaverse is still in the exploration phases with many companies, and as the AI teams think about use cases and solutions that will impact the customer shopper journey, Mekel-Bobrov feels that everyone is needlessly caught up in the literal meaning of the metaverse, saying, “No one knows what the metaverse will shape up to be, so we should just step away from the definition and think more about the outcomes.”
Although adoption rates remain low with retailers today, the metaverse continues to be explored for a good reason. McKinsey & Company estimates that the metaverse would be worth $5 trillion by 2030 due to its potential global consumer base, expansive industry relevance, and wide use of business applications.
Transparency around AI
As more and more retailers expand the uses of artificial intelligence in various capacities, there is a growing effort among companies and consumers to ensure that data collection and data usage are responsibly handled. Consumers are increasingly empowered and vocal about data transparency.
Retail is not as heavily regulated as medicine and banking regarding data protection. Still, there is an urgent need for the retail sector to catch up with the foundational shift in consumer preferences toward more regulated responsibilities regarding data protection. “EBay understands the cultural shift with consumers and has started to build a scalable approach to provide a framework for employees who are building out AI initiatives. We are fully aware of our dimensions of responsibility,” said Mekel-Bobrov, adding, “We are great at staying ahead of what the customers expect.” As more AI initiatives are rolled out globally across many retailers, providing transparency is critical, and companies should create plans to ensure that consumers are well protected.
Join the discussion