How To Leverage AI in eCommerce for Small and Mid-Size Businesses

Doki Nguyen
Jun 14, 2024
3 min read

In the age of AI in eCommerce and the constantly thriving digital realm, small businesses face unique challenges in staying competitive and achieving rapid growth.

With limited access to extensive data resources and in-house technological capabilities, small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) often find itdaunting to harness the power of AI.

However, fear not if you’re one of these mentioned businesses because there are plenty of opportunities to thrive and overcome these challenges.

By adopting strategic approaches and leveraging the available tools and partnerships, you can unlock the potential of AI in eCommerce, enhance customer experiences, and propel their growth in the digital realm.

AI in eCommerce misconceptions

Before delving into the discussion on how businesses should embrace AI, it is crucial to dispel common myths and misconceptions surrounding AI.

These mistaken beliefs can be harmful as they have the potential to discourage AI adoption or result in misguided decision-making.

Misconception #1: Using AI is only for enterprise-level businesses

It’s not like only Olympic athletes can go to the gym.

Indeed, bigger retailers possess significant advantages regarding data resources, financial capabilities, and dedicated teams of data scientists.

They can leverage these resources to create exceptional shopping experiences and implement cutting-edge strategies based on the latest eCommerce research.

However, who says smaller businesses should shy away from AI technologies?

AI is not an exclusive and complex technology reserved solely for large players with extensive resources.

You can still embrace AI even without an extensive data history.

By employing AI technologies, smaller businesses can cater to new customers who visit their platform without prior interactions or personal information. This way, you can optimize your online website to provide personalized recommendations and tailored experiences right from the start.

Hence, your growing business can compete effectively in the eCommerce landscape with bigger retailers.

Misconception #2: Using AI means giving up your control

Fear not, as AI technologies are no evil antagonist that gradually “wakes up” and takes over the world, like usually depicted in many blockbuster movies.

People previously associated AI with complete automation, where machines took over, and humans became passive observers.

However, modern AI technology is designed to collaborate with us and empower us rather than replace us. By working together, AI and your teams can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your eCommerce management.

In short:

Intelligent systems for your online website, equipped with machine learning and natural language processing, serve to support and streamline human decision-making processes.

These data-powered tools prioritize transparency, ensuring you and your teams maintain control and visibility over AI operations in various eCommerce scenarios.

For instance, an AI product discovery tool can analyze query data to give you valuable insights on where and how to take effective actions.

This information allows you to establish new merchandising rules, such as boosting search rankings for high-inventory products or identifying trending items to highlight in custom collections.

Additionally, AI can handle mundane tasks like correcting typos, identifying synonyms, and creating redirecting rules to ensure accurate search results. By automating these repetitive tasks, AI frees up time for you to contribute strategically to business outcomes.

AI's deep learning capabilities enable online merchants to deliver personalized product recommendations and interactions that resonate with online shoppers.

You’ll see that AI-driven product discovery can dynamically customize search results based on individual preferences, interests, and brand affinity. This personalized experience enhances user satisfaction and drives your revenue growth.

Misconception #3: Using AI is expensive

2023 is an outburst for AI tools.

AI, AI everywhere.

Every day, there are new AI-powered tools that surge up different solutions for your small business.

So, although some businesses assume that implementing AI technologies is prohibitively expensive, it turns out that various cost-effective AI solutions, platforms, and services are available, making AI adoption more accessible to businesses with limited budgets.

What are the benefits of AI in eCommerce for small and mid-size retailers?

1. AI helps boost your sales and revenue

AI helps improve customers’ shopping experience by collecting and analyzing real-time consumer data, like online browsing habits and previous purchases.

This data allows for more effective marketing and product merchandising, leading to higher conversion rates and profits.

2. AI helps improve customer satisfaction

With AI, you can personalize customer experiences by predicting behavior based on their interactions and purchase histories.

This personalization increases customer retention and fosters strong relationships by addressing their preferences and pain points.

Also, AI-powered chatbots revolutionize customer engagement, enhancing your business success.

AI chatbots are your virtual assistants who can offer immediate and tailored responses to customer inquiries, saving time and resources. They handle routine tasks like FAQs, order updates, and product recommendations, freeing up small businesses to prioritize strategic and value-driven endeavors.

AI chatbots

3. AI enhances operational efficiency

AI automates repetitive tasks, optimizes workflows, and quickly analyzes large amounts of data.

This streamlines your eCommerce business, reducing the time and human resources required for operations.

4. AI helps reduce operational costs

AI integration in eCommerce reduces operational costs by over 20%, according to Statista.

It can detect fraud, predict market demand, and optimize energy consumption, resulting in long-term savings for your business.

5. AI empowers your competitive advantage

With 7.1 million online retailers as competition, standing out is crucial.

AI-powered eCommerce solutions provide a competitive edge for smaller businesses.

For example, integrating AI chatbots into your support channel improves response speed and accuracy, offering a superior customer experience compared to other online retailers.

How small and mid-size businesses can maximize AI in eCommerce without big data?

Despite the prevalent adoption of AI technologies by tech-giant companies within their organizational workflows, smaller companies like yours can also reap numerous benefits across various aspects through the implementation of AI.

Step-by-step guide: How can SMBs integrate AI in operations?

Small businesses can unlock the benefits of AI in various business functions, such as product development, sales and marketing, and customer support.

However, adopting AI should be a gradual, structured process rather than a rushed one.

Recommended step-by-step approach for SMBs:

  1. Identify your business problem: Every SMB faces distinct needs and challenges.
    To begin harnessing the power of AI, the first crucial step is identifying the specific AI applications that can have the greatest impact on your business.
    Find a business problem that offers a good return on investment (ROI) when solved using AI technology. You’ll want to start with a tool that drives you more money.
  2. Integrate third-party applications: You can try to start by incorporating AI-powered third-party applications that enhance your workforce productivity.
    There are plenty of AI-powered tools out there to solve your problem. You don’t need to invest in a whole new in-house tech expert to build everything AI from scratch.
  3. Adopt AI with a 3-step process:
  4. a. Define expectations: Determine the desired outcomes based on your wanted-to-solve business problem.
  5. b. Measure progress: Track and measure progress using relevant benchmarks. Never sleep on your data analytics.
  6. c. Evaluate results: Assess the experiment's outcome as either a success or failure. Rise where you fall.

Expert tip on how SMBs can take advantage of AI in eCommerce

“For small businesses, it's best to start with small decisions and avoid diving into large and complex projects right off the bat.

The key is to select AI projects that can boost sales while keeping costs and complexity low.

Projects with indirect impact should be avoided as they are more suitable for larger companies.

Since small businesses often lack in-house expertise, it's preferable to hire partners like apps, platforms, and consulting agencies.

Artificial intelligence can be utilized in various ways, such as generating product recommendations. For instance, AI can create bundles or suggest combinations based on sales analysis.

In other words, I'd recommend using AI to analyze data trends and inform your growth strategy. Additionally, it can be employed to develop chatbots for customer service and manage inventory based on sales analysis.”

Andrey Gadashevich
Founder&CEO at MakeBeCool - Shopify Agency & Apps

expert tip on AI in ecommerce


Want to go AI? Go for it!

You don’t need to be an “Amazon” to be able and ready enough to implement AI technologies into your eCommerce business.

Navigating the world of AI can be overwhelming, as its applications span from self-driving cars to natural-language-blah-blah algorithms. It's challenging to keep up with the rapid advancements.

However, we hope this article can shed some light and guidance on your AI journey, offering valuable insights to help you make sense of this transformative technology.

Boost is here for you on your very first step of implementing AI to drive more sales!

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