How is AI pushing the Ecommerce Cart

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Today, e-commerce is redefining business by unlocking potential of modern technology like never before. Many Indian startups have taken the lead in terms of providing real-time insights, recommendations, content, designs, etc., to e-commerce platforms. Moreover, ecommerce companies themselves are at the forefront using big data and AI to get closer to their customers and rolling down the red carpet for a much brighter future . Still there are a lot of challenges to be overcome – will AI continue to open new possibilities or is this the tipping point? We asked Priyanka Bhargav, Associate Director & Head - Consumer & Brand Research & Insights, Myntra, about the trends reshaping the Indian ecommerce landscape

 "Data data everywhere not a drop to drink – Making meaningful sense of the data to understand and predict consumer behavior is essential . While Big data analytics is rampant, I still feel we have touched only the tip of the iceberg"

Priyanka Bhargav,
Associate Director & Head - Consumer & Brand Research & Insights, Myntra 

1) How do you see ecommerce evolving in the next few years?

We are going through some interesting times in India. Our GDP is expected to grow at 7.5% in 2017-18, which is remarkable considering the global GDP growth is at 3.5%. The Indian middle class with a higher disposable income is expected to double by 2025 to USD 550 million with rising Internet penetration. Ecommerce customers are pegged at 200 million as of 2017 and expected to grow by 30% YOY. At a broader level, there are over 310 million Internet users in the country today — and only 28% Internet penetration. 80% of this Internet consumption is through mobile phones that has led to a digital revolution in the country. This revolution has touched all aspects of the life of Indians: across healthcare, fashion, banking, entertainment and even finding a life partner. Above mentioned changes will change the contour of ecommerce in India. While consumers are evolving, this is resulting in an increase in the number of various ecommerce companies and aggregators. This  means better products and services for customers and various global players entering Indian market. In order to do there will also be even more disruptions in technology, resulting in changes in consumer habits. 

2) What challenges do you feel , are still unaddressed in today’s data driven ecommerce world?

Data privacy is still a major concern, we hear of consumer details being leaked and that’s definitely not a comfortable situation to be in. Speaking from fashion customer’s perspective, touch and feel still remains a concern. While there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of online fashion customers (from a meagre number to nearly 60 million as of today) there is still a long way to go. Technology has not been able to resolve the primary concern. Data data everywhere not a drop to drink – Making meaningful sense of the data to understand and predict the consumer behavior is essential and while Big data analytics is rampant, I still feel we have only touched the tip of the iceberg.

3) Artificial Intelligence is already being used by several ecommerce players to enhance customer experience be it via conversational chat bots or contextual messaging. How do you see advanced analytics and AI working together to solve for various problems in your sector ?

This is the future! And not delight or aspirational any more, its hygiene in our dynamic environment. We have moved on from “Survival of the fittest” to “Survival of the most advanced”. Alexa, Magic Mirror, Chat bots are the future. Lets take an example of personalization. Basis customer past behavior, machine learns and exposes what the customer would like to see and the home page is customized to suit the customer taste and preferences. Alexa, till quite some time back couldn’t pronounce Indian names properly but now owing to machine learning, it has been successful in pronouncing the names correctly. Netflix, has been another successful case where it has been successfully recommending movies/ content basis past customer behavior. At home, Myntra launched Moda Rapido and Here and Now – 2 brands which are completely designer less brands. The algorithm reads the volumes of the taxonomy of words used by consumers across the globe on blogs, google searches, image searches and picks up the emerging trends. In fact very soon we will also be able to predict the revenue on various styles!

4) What new practices should be incorporated to strengthen eCommerce strategy in 2018?

The e-commerce industry been directly impacting the micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME) in India by providing means of financing, technology and training and has a positive cascading effect on other industries as well. Hence, we need policies that further aid development of technology enabled innovations like digital payments, hyper-local logistics, analytics driven customer engagement and digital advertisements which are likely to support the growth in various sectors. At an individual strategic level, there is a need to work towards a sustainable and  profitable business model that is leveraging technology to predict consumer behavior and also focusing  to reduce wastage.

The debate about whether AI and Machine Learning will change our world forever is moot today. The future is here. Now the debate is about the success and potential of this technology . All in all, the future of AI-powered e-commerce in India will definitely be exciting and worth watching.

 

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