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AI in Ecommerce: How Generational Perspectives and Corporate Culture Influence Adoption

July 13th, 2023 | 6 min. read

AI in Ecommerce: How Generational Perspectives and Corporate Culture Influence Adoption Blog Feature

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The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in ecommerce is rapidly evolving. The last year seems to have seen as much advancement in AI as prior decades combined. With its ability to enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and drive business growth, AI has been a game-changer for online retailers. However, the acceptance and utilization of AI vary across different generations, and brands exhibit diverse reactions to its implementation.


I recently hosted a roundtable at CommerceNext on the topic, so I got to hear directly from a diverse set of ecommerce leaders how they really feel about AI – and whether their company has banned or embraced its use. In this article, we'll delve into the generational perspectives on AI, as highlighted by data from a recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey report and analysis presented by MarketingSherpa, and explore how brands are navigating the AI landscape. 


Understanding Generational Perspectives on AI 


As the MarketingSherpa article reveals, generational attitudes towards AI differ significantly. Older generations may exhibit skepticism or uncertainty about AI, while younger generations tend to embrace and expect its presence. Somewhat surprisingly, though, older generations are less fearful of AI eliminating their job. Whether that’s because they don’t have many years left in the workforce or because they’re more likely to be in leadership roles that are not yet ripe for replacement by machines remains a question. Whatever the underlying reason, understanding these perspectives is crucial for ecommerce businesses to tailor their AI strategies and align them with customer expectations. 


Benefits of AI in Ecommerce 


AI brings a myriad of benefits to the ecommerce world, revolutionizing the way brands interact with customers and optimizing their shopping experiences. By leveraging AI-driven technologies such as chatbots, recommendation engines, and virtual assistants, brands can deliver highly personalized and seamless experiences, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, AI enables predictive analytics and data-driven decision-making, empowering businesses to optimize inventory management, pricing strategies, and marketing campaigns. 


Brand Reactions to AI Adoption 


Brands in the ecommerce space have responded to AI adoption across a spectrum:  


  1. Early Adopters: Forward-thinking brands have embraced AI and successfully integrated it into their ecommerce strategies. They leverage AI-powered tools to deliver hyper-personalization, improve product recommendations, and enhance customer service, gaining a competitive edge. These brands heavily invest in their tech stack and are more likely to have specific roles on ecommerce teams with “Emerging Technology” in the title.

  2. Cautious Optimists: Some brands recognize the potential of AI but approach its implementation with caution. In addition to conducting thorough research, launching trials, and closely monitoring AI's impact before scaling up their initiatives, they’re likely to retain human oversight and monitoring of AI-driven processes which reduces some of the expected efficiency gains.

  3. Late Adopters: Certain brands remain hesitant or resistant to AI adoption in ecommerce. One company I spoke with during my roundtable shared that there was a formal corporate policy against using ChatGPT on company equipment. As competitors reap the benefits of AI, companies that institute these policies may fall behind and face challenges related to limited resources or being viewed as behind the times.


Overcoming Barriers and Ensuring Ethical AI Usage  


Of course, it’s a delicate balance – and some companies, particularly larger ones, may be right to hesitate in some cases. AI adoption in ecommerce comes with challenges that must be addressed. Concerns regarding data privacy, biases in algorithms, and transparency have raised ethical considerations. Brands must prioritize responsible data handling, implement robust security measures, and strive for transparency in their AI processes. By doing so, they can build trust with customers and mitigate potential risks associated with AI usage. 


The Future of AI in Ecommerce 


Looking ahead, the future of AI in ecommerce holds great promise. I, for one, am excited for the possibilities. Advancements such as AI-powered voice commerce, augmented reality, and rapid content generation will reshape customer experiences and redefine the way brands engage with their target audience. Staying at the forefront of these advancements will require continuous adaptation, innovation, and a customer-centric approach. 


Final Thoughts 


Is the recent AI craze as much about new developments like ChatGPT, or is it that more people are finally paying attention – and perhaps finally ready to embrace its benefits? Certainly it’s a combination of the two. 


Whatever the reason, AI has become a driving force behind ecommerce transformation, offering immense opportunities for brands to thrive in the digital landscape. Businesses can successfully harness AI's potential and deliver exceptional customer experiences if they’re open and accepting of the change and diligent about ensuring safe AI usage. As we venture into the future, it is vital for brands to prioritize ethical AI practices, ensure data privacy, and proactively adapt to evolving consumer expectations. Embrace AI in ecommerce, and unlock new possibilities for your brand's success.