From e-commerce to c-commerce

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From high-speed computations to the rapidly increasing rate of automation, we have entered into an era where intelligent systems are poised to take over just about everything considered “human only.”

And while this is applicable to a wide range of industries – finance, military, health, automotive, etc. – e-commerce cannot afford to be left behind.

Traditional e-commerce has widened its scope. We are now in the era of c-commerce: conversational and cognitive commerce. C-commerce is everything that has to do with AI, cognitive, and intelligent improvements to the customer buying experiences.

We’ve all had experiences such as:

  • “Oh! I love that dress, handbag, etc. and I wish I knew where she got it.”
  • “I wish I knew what the best product is for my budget and where to buy it.”
  • “I wish my shopping list would arrive at my doorstep on its own exactly when I need it.”
  • “I wish there was an easier way to log my complaint without having to go through a long list of queries on the IVR.”
  • “I wish there was a better way to handle my loyalty points.”
  • “I wish there was an easier way to buy a dress. It’s so difficult and time consuming to scan through so many dresses before arriving at my dream dress.”
  • “I wish someone had reminded me of my wife’s birthday so I could buy the gift on time.”

In essence, the list goes on. As wonderful as e-commerce is, there are still customer experience gaps to be fulfilled.

For retailers and sellers, it has become even more important to hear the voices of their customers and win their loyalty. The answer to this lies in applying intelligence – artificial and organic – to e-commerce systems.

Traditional e-commerce was just online shopping. The introduction of helpful tools like online chatbots made shopping easier, but there remained a void. The advent of conversational devices such as Google Home, Alexa, etc. helped fill this void. Now, shoppers can simply use their voice to get the information and products they need.

Voice shopping using AI is much simpler than traditional online shopping. These machines can understand human languages and make sense of what users want. Customers can directly place orders and even pay for them using Google Home, Alexa, or other voice assistants. Checking order statuses and delivery dates is now extremely easy.

But now, this introductory phase of voice and AI technology is considered passé. C-commerce systems powered by AI are capable of instant gratification, hyper personalization, understanding human emotions, and much more.

Instant Gratification

To give an example of instant gratification through c-commerce, imagine it’s a sunny day and you are heading to the beach. Just then, you get a notification that you should wear sunscreen and that you can buy it from a shop on your way to the beach. A completely different product may be suggested to another person who probably is more prone to staying indoors due to bad weather somewhere else.

Emotional Intelligence

Here is another example depicting the emotional intelligence in machines. A person may have a doctor’s appointment on their calendar. An intelligent system can utilize data from the user’s Apple Watch or other wearable device to check on the person’s health (because they have an appointment) and suggest appropriate products for their state or ailment.

Machine Learning

The real power of AI though is in machine learning. Machines can use past data and behaviors to learn and improve outcomes. So, inputs such as text, voice, and even images can be used to optimize these systems. Using a mobile camera, a customer can click on a photograph of a dress they like and upload it to an apparel app. It immediately returns matching or similar dresses and shows where the shopper can buy them. Could shopping be any easier?

Actually, the answer is yes, and this can be achieved by adding more cognitive intelligence – even gauging facial expressions such as smiles, frowns, etc. to suggest different products or behaviors based on mood.

Customer Service

Talking about call centers, with all the changes taking place in consumer habits, it is imperative that call centers re-innovate themselves. AI and analytics can be influential here as well.

With these technologies, organizations can more efficiently determine why customers are calling and use that information to improve their level of service. With billions of interactions coming into call centers, it is imperative that AI be used to analyze these calls. AI, backed by the power of digital platforms such as analytics, CRM, marketing, etc., can be used to create experiences that are centered around the customer.

From the consumers’ perspective – how many of us enjoy the experience of the strict guided flow on the complex, let’s say over a phone, just to realize that we pressed the wrong key combination and need to start again? When we dial, the reps have no clue who we are, and even if they do, they have no idea why we are calling. Finally, when after multiple attempts, our call passes on to a live agent, the agent has no insight into the information that we keyed in and usually asks us to provide it all over again. Not ideal.

For this reason, Voice interaction devices are the new face of the customer experience.

Finally, customer privacy is completely ensured in all these new ways of interacting. With virtual assistants and digital technologies advancing further and further, we are seeing c-commerce as the future of e-commerce.


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