Launching an online business is a dream for many entrepreneurs. After all, you can start a profitable company in a brief amount of time, and it often needs very few employees to keep going. You don’t need to pay for a physical storefront, you set your own work schedule, you have the flexibility to work from home, or anywhere you desire, and most importantly, you can make money while you sleep.
While there is certainly some truth to the majority of these statements, it is also true that running an online business is still a lot of work. There are plenty of ways for things to go wrong as the business is running 24/7. If the proper systems aren’t put into place, it can quickly lead to a nose dive.
However, thanks to the modern digital revolution and all the resources that come with it, even the smallest of online companies can tap into the power of artificial intelligence (AI). When AI first started to really buzz in the business world, it seemed like a farfetched technology that only the most prominent companies could benefit from.
AI is more accessible than ever these days, and virtually any company can use it to grow and scale their business.
So, what are some ways that online businesses can benefit from AI specifically? Let’s discuss.
Eliminates Issues with Inventory
Many entrepreneurs are attracted to online business ideas because it offers them the flexibility of owning a business with no physical location. Some e-commerce companies follow a drop-shipping model – which means that the business owner never even has to touch or see the product physically.
An order is made through the website, and a third-party logistics company sends out the product, typically from an overseas location where manufacturing costs are far lower. The business owner handles the duties of marketing and maintaining the website and keeps the profit. However, this does not mean that this kind of business model works perfectly. If a drop shipper runs out of a product, it could lead to a backup of orders and lost sales. These lost sales is where AI predictive technology can be extremely beneficial.
Through its ability to gather and analyze large amounts of data, AI can use machine learning capabilities to assess the future sales trends of specific products. This information is typically based on past consumer behavior as well as overall market trends. If an upward or downward trend is identified, drop shippers and inventory management will be notified so the proper amount of product can be manufactured based on demand.
An upward or downward trend leads to a much more data-driven inventory management model, which again saves your business time and money and leads to a more efficient business structure.
Offers Meaningful Automation
AI-assisted e-commerce automation can be a total gamechanger for overwhelmed entrepreneurs who have too much on their own plates, yet not enough money to hire additional help. Plus, it can save massive amounts of time and effort spent on mission-critical tasks. According to WorkMarket’s report, the average employee can save up to 2 work hours per day and business leaders can save 3 hours with automation tools, leading to thousands of dollars saved per year.
There are plenty of menial but time-consuming tasks that can quickly be taken over by AI. You can even create an AI-virtual assistant that will take care of jobs like responding to emails, scheduling meetings, and organizing your calendar.
AI can offer even more mechanical assistance with components like predictive search and helpful chatbots — which can help resolve customer issues automatically and proactively while maintaining the “human” touch.
AI and machine learning rely on natural language processing (NLP) to determine what a customer is communicating and what response is appropriate. Knowing the communications of the customer means that the technology actually “learns” over time to improve how it responds to customer inquiries.
More Effective Retargeting
AI takes the guesswork out of targeting and re-targeting and can be much more effective in reaching customers at the right place and right time. Most of your first-time visitors are going to leave without a purchase, especially if they are just in the research phase of the buyer’s journey. Retargeting them can be helpful for re-engagement and increasing the likelihood of a sale. However, the timing, placement, and method of retargeting matters, too.
By using machine learning, AI systems can determine the best course of action to take based on a specific customer’s behavior.
For example, say that a customer visits your site via a link on asocial media post. They browse around and spend a few moments on a specific product page, but end up exiting your site without a conversion. An AI-fueled program could take this information and create a personalized retargeting strategy, perhaps by creating a social media-ad featuring that same product, along with other items that customer may enjoy based on their product views.
Using machine learning will give the results in a much more effective retargeting strategy than just a generic ad. We see this with Amazon all the time.
Increases Efficiency and Profitability
Although one of the most significant benefits of online business ownership is that anyone can do it, it can also lead to great challenges. While e-commerce provides the opportunity for many entrepreneurs to launch their own business easily, many do not know how to run one efficiently or profitably. Furthermore, there are lots of solopreneurs in e-commerce. Therefore, one person is in charge of all aspects of the business, such as marketing, accounting, inventory, and so on.
AI can help through automation and assistance that makes processes faster and more cost-effective. Many online programs now feature AI technology to assist with effective data management and help business owners stay on top of essential forms and paperwork, such as accounting details.
It can also provide insight and suggestions, such as the right time to post on social media for the highest engagement levels. Providing these insights to your customer business owners allows the business owners to know the right way to operate and how well their business is doing, which leads to more data-driven decision making rather than blind guesses.
It’s exciting to see how many ways AI technology is changing the essence of how businesses operate. Online entrepreneurs are now able to accomplish so much more in much less time, thanks to AI automation and predictive analysis. As this technology continues to change and improve, we can only expect even more innovation for online businesses.