What’s the difference between VR and AR for retail?
Augmented reality (AR) does just that – augments the existing reality with added digital components within some kind of live view (often using tech like a camera, smartphone or in-store device). Snapchat lenses and Pokemon Go are good examples of AR. Virtual reality (VR) essentially replaces and re-situates a user’s “awareness” in a 360-degree, multi-sensory, immersive experience.
- Virtual reality
There are basically two types of emerging VR-related use cases for retail: headset and non-headset. Both are on the steady incline.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Users Data for AI in ecommerce
It’s fair to say VR is relatively untapped (especially compared to its sister technology, AR). Brands need to understand how, where, when, and why they’d use VR – that is, a completely immersive experience – in lieu of (or in conjunction with) the in-store experience. We see this coming to fruition with mini-theaters or other types of multi-sensory or gamification experiences.
- Augmented reality
AR has been dubbed the future of retail. In the next 10 years, retail will undergo more change than ever before. The mix of AI, VR and AR are already revolutionizing retail – smart mirrors, for example, use gesture recognition technology to superimpose certain styles on your person which may eliminate the need for dressing rooms.
Use cases for AR are almost unlimited… it will be interesting to see how this technology comes into play in the short and long term.
Content, Incentives, & Targeting
One of the biggest areas where AI will impact eCommerce is, undoubtedly, content. As our SVP of AI, Raj Balasundaram, told me, the potential here is enormous, and should excite (not worry) content creators.
Raj Balasundaraam for AI in ecommerce “There’s a huge runway for AI to improve itself in content… we need to make sure AI is stepping into the content shoes to do two things. One, it has to reduce the burden of content [currently] on marketers, and, two, properly interact with the consumers almost like an interface — an intermediary layer — which understands a marketer’s emotions and consumers’ emotion, and can actually produce content on a 1-to-1 level.”
Raj Balasundaram • SVP of AI, Emarsys • @RBalasundaram
- Target new audiences for the acquisition of social
When it comes to social media marketing, it’s all about identifying and connecting with target audiences. AI makes this easier by showing you exactly where to aim and pointing out new or hidden targets that you didn’t (or couldn’t) see. That’s because AI can spot nuanced, advanced patterns in social media usage and purchasing behavior that us mere mortal marketers may not readily identify, and then AI creates new target audiences from those patterns.
This leads to an increase in the amount and relevancy of individuals you can confidently engage with your marketing. With larger bullseyes (and more of them) you’ll see greater conversion from your paid ads and targeted outreach.
- Topic suggestions for content writing
There are a number of available AI tools that can help marketing organizations identify hot terms and topics that will attract visitors. A few of these include:
HubSpot → content strategy tool uses machine learning
MarketMuse → AI-driven assistant for content strategists
Persado → applies “mathematical certainty” to words
Some keyword research tools are also approaching using (or use now) AI to generate hundreds of topics for marketers to consider.
No longer will marketers need to guess which topics to write about. AI adds a new level of intelligence to power more dynamic content creation.
- Email subject lines
Companies like Phrasee are pioneering language generation for marketing copy. Subject lines, specifically, are one great opportunity to automate content creation. Subject lines are the single most important aspect of emails.
Email subject line optimization (and testing) can be handled by machines. At the least, it can supplement or augment the busy to-do lists of marketing teams who may prefer to focus on strategy, cadence, and creative aspects with email campaigns.
- AI-assisted content creation
Dawn Papandrea of NewsCred Insights estimates revenue from content marketing will grow more than 14% through 2021. To get in on that revenue, you’ll need great content. And lots of it. Despite what your technophobic copywriters may argue, brand-worthy, loyalty-building content could soon be aided by AI. Current AI-powered software solutions like natural language generation (NLG) use machine learning to quickly turn large amounts of data into meaningful, quality copy virtually indistinguishable from what a human writer would generate.
And according to Manish Dudharejia, companies like FOX and The Washington Post are “already using [NLG] to write weather reports and sports stories.” So is it time to replace your in-house writers with AI? Probably not. But for now, handing over certain aspects of your content creation to AI will allow you to scale your marketing more easily.
- Email send time
Send-time optimization (STO) staggers email campaign sends for each recipient to learn about preferences and sends each email at a time where the recipient is most likely to open it.
Machine learning can analyze your contacts’ behavior and identify the times when they are most responsive — independent of time zone, language, or region.
Email send time for AI in ecommerce
Image Source: Emarsys
STO maximizes the chances that your emails will engage your customers. Treating each of them as individuals (catering to their preferences on when to receive emails) will strengthen their loyalty and improve their experience.
- Live content at open (OTC)
Open Time Content is an AI technology that lets marketers include the most engaging content in emails, populated at the exact time it’s opened… and offer updated content every time that email is subsequently opened.
Website, social, and product data are combined with customer behavior history and then contextualized as the email is accessed.
Live Content at open time (otc) for AI in ecommerce
Open Time Content elevates automated personalization to take place in real-time as the email is opened, ensuring your content is up-to-the-moment with maximum engagement potential.
- Content personalization and product recommendations
AI in eCommerce can handle content and product recommendations like a pro. AI goes beyond a simple rule-based system and uses business intelligence to predict what an individual customer is most likely to buy.
Content Personalization and Product Recommendations for AI in ecommerce
The machine does this based on all sorts of data including behavioral, transactional, and contextual. So, any and all recommendations (content, product, cross- and up-sell) can be personalized to a tee