The role of AI in a privacy-first world

By Ian Nadeau on September 13, 2023

ai for ecommerce

We’re in a privacy-first world — one where 90% of all ecommerce sessions are anonymous. New data regulations and tech updates (like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency) give consumers greater control over how their data is collected, managed, and used. With less available data, marketers need to find new ways to successfully target and convert consumers, while also respecting their privacy. In a privacy-first world, this can only be done with artificial intelligence (AI). 

Today’s digital shopper expects tailored experiences, from the moment they land on a page to the point of checkout. How this level of customization is delivered must change dramatically now that third-party cookies are nearly extinct. AI enables ecommerce businesses to adapt the journey at scale as it can understand visitor behaviors, automate manual processes, allocate marketing resources, and make data-driven decisions in milliseconds.

What else can AI do for ecommerce? Below we dive into the key roles AI plays in helping online retailers overcome the obstacles of a privacy-first world.

AI for customer experience

The digitally native shopper has greater expectations than in years past. Now, 66% of them want a company to understand and deliver on their needs. 71% say that they’ve made a purchase based on a site’s ability to meet their expectations and 91% state that they’re more likely to be repeat shoppers after a positive experience.   

How can brands deliver on customer expectations when 75% of all consumers have their data protected by privacy laws? Further, once third-party cookies are completely gone, more than 95% of shoppers will be anonymous to ecommerce sites, browsing without their own identifier for advertisers.

AI helps brands understand customer needs and deploy individualized journeys by synthesizing massive amounts of data in real-time. This includes clickstream data, micro-behaviors, lookalike models, and more. 

AI for conversational commerce

Online retailers can move beyond the current limitations of traditional data collection by leveraging AI for conversational commerce. This means reducing reliance on third-party cookies and shifting focus to zero-party data — information that customers directly share with a brand. 

Conversational AI, like chatbots, can engage shoppers in meaningful conversations and create a value exchange where customers trade data for better experiences. 60% of consumers are actually willing to share data if they get a more tailored journey in return. 

Conversational transcripts fuel AI with invaluable insights such as a shopper’s preferences, intentions, and friction points. This unlocks a deeper understanding of the customer’s needs and allows brands to adjust the experience accordingly. 

AI-powered conversational commerce not only helps brands meet customer expectations, but it can also accelerate the path to purchase and even strengthen relationships through tailored recommendations and support. 

Customer Story: Verizon

Verizon uses AI-driven conversational commerce to solve customer needs by identifying friction and intercepting with the appropriate assistance in real-time. Prospects that are in the sales flow and show indicators of friction (e.g., being on a page for too long or taking actions that demonstrate having second thoughts about a purchase) are assisted by a chat feature.

The ability to identify and alleviate friction at scale boosted Verizon’s chat-assisted digital orders by 161%

AI for promotion optimization 

The decline in customer data has online retailers turning to sitewide promotions in order to incentivize and convert customers. This level of inclusive discounting dramatically reduces margins. AI can optimize promotions by segmenting shoppers in real-time and either suppress or deploy offers based on that visitor’s purchase intent. 

AI for in-session recommenders 

In-session recommenders analyze various aspects of user behavior (search habits, browsing choices, cart additions, comparisons, or content consumption). By leveraging AI algorithms, ecommerce businesses can generate tailored experiences that adapt in real-time to user behaviors. For example, in-session recommenders can change the website content around a user’s search, recommending specific products or relevant blog posts.

AI for automation 

AI has the power to significantly streamline manual ecommerce marketing operations. This frees up resources and enables brands to give greater attention to their higher-value tasks. An example of this is creative production. AI can incorporate performance data into its outputs and optimize creative production by automatically verifying that the right elements (logos, product placements, and CTAs) are included.

Using AI to automate manual marketing processes allows online retailers to create and manage tailored campaigns across platforms and ad formats. This ensures that every visitor is engaged with relevant content.  

AI and the future of ecommerce 

Ecommerce is rapidly evolving to meet the needs of digitally-native consumers. AI paves the way for online retailers to not just keep up with shoppers but also stay ahead of the competition.  

By leveraging AI capabilities, like conversational commerce, ecommerce brands can gather first and zero-party data. These data sources, along with clickstream and micro-behaviors, can be used to create impactful, conversion-driving experiences.

When leveraged, AI for ecommerce creates new opportunities for online retailers to succeed in a privacy-first world.

Want to see how you can use AI to convert customers in five clicks? Contact us today to book a demo with Session AI

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