Dear Dr Gaur, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Prof. Loveleen Gaur, Program Director (Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics), Senior IEEE member, and Series Editor. She is working with Amity International Business School, Amity University; Noida is an established Author, Researcher. She has filed many patents and copyrights in the area of AI/ML/IoT. For over 20 years, she served in India and abroad in different capacities. Prof. Gaur has significantly contributed to enhancing scientific understanding by participating in over three hundred scientific conferences, symposia, and seminars, chairing technical sessions and delivering plenary and invited talks. She has specialised in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Information Sciences, IoT, Data Analytics. Prof. Gaur pursued research in truly inter-disciplinary areas and authored and co-authored many books with renowned International and National publishers like Elsevier, Springer, Taylor and Francis. She has been invited as Guest Editor for reputed Q1, ABDC, SCI journals. She has also published various research papers in SCI and Q1 Journals. She is actively involved in various professional activities and has chaired multiple positions in International Conferences of repute, and is a reviewer with IEEE, SCI, and ABDC Journals.
She is currently involved in various projects of the Government of India and abroad. She has been honoured with prestigious National and International awards like the “Senior Women Educator & Scholar Award” by National Foundation for Entrepreneurship Development on Women’s Day, “Sri Ram Award” by Delhi Management Association (DMA), and “Distinguished Research Award” by Allied Academies presented this award in Jacksonville, Florida and “Outstanding research contributor” award by Amity University.
In terms of e-Commerce, how did AI evolve in the past few years?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now wholly woven into e-commerce platforms. AI is evolving and providing new opportunities to marketers to understand the customer better. For example, chatbots are now providing 24X7 assistance to the customers; when a customer opens an e-commerce website, a chatbot pops up “how may I help you”? Or asks what do you want?
Many e-commerce platforms are using AI-driven chatbots for enhanced communication and personalised user experience. Let’s take the example of eBay, and they have AI abled image search option. The customer can search for a product by image. Similarly, Pinterest also has a visual discovery tool. Even AI is used to provide meaningful recommendations to customers. The role of AI is to integrate the perpetual products on e-commerce platforms with unlimited data.
Moreover, AI and machine learning algorithms are used to predict the behaviour of the buyer from its past searches, likings, frequently bought products. By predicting the behaviour of the user, e-commerce websites can recommend the effects that the user is highly interested. It improves the user experience as the user no longer have to spend hours searching the product. It also helps e-commerce websites to improve their sales. The after-sale service has been enhanced as AI works on auto-generated forms to collect customer feedback about the website interface and automate the feedback form, replacements and handling any other ambiguity in the product. By solving the buyer’s issues, the brand value of the website gets improved.
In your opinion, which are the best ways to humanise your brand in the age of social media and artificial intelligence?
Yes, this is a million-dollar question…
What makes humans and machines different – i.e. feelings and emotions, where words don’t work, expressions do. Social media understands this very well and provides the customer with emojis to encourage emotional responses. Renowned social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow marketers an easy way to communicate passionate interest with visuals.
As we know, e-commerce platforms operate very differently from motor and brick stores. Here, customer relationship management has to be the marketer’s primary focus. Today, AI can predict which customers are most likely to make a purchase and better engage with them. AI applications can help in identifying the trends and plan the actions according to the latest trends.
AI works best on personalisation, providing customer-specific responses, humanising brands. AI uses data to make personalised birthday wishes, anniversary wishes, and recommendations to make your occasion, day special with the brand’s products. In my opinion, this works as a cherry on the cake.
Social media sites let brands build engaging conversations with the customers, and by acknowledging mistakes, brands can develop trust with customers. For example, when on Facebook, a customer reported a delivery issue with a Flipkart order. Flipkart immediately responded to the complaint, asked the customer for more information about the order and offered to look into the problem. Such incidents make customers connected with the brand
Do you think that the Covid-19 Pandemic has had a positive influence on global e-Commerce?
Yes, Covid-19 has acted as a blessing in disguise for e-commerce, be it online grocery, education sector, a corporate house etc. The impact of the pandemic is highly depressing and even hard to imagine in the case of health, education, tourism and many other spheres of life. Still, when it comes to the e-Commerce business, the influence of Covid-19 is somewhat optimistic and satisfactory for those who are directly or indirectly involved in it. The pandemic has rendered a kind to great favour and service to the e-Commerce business community by offering them great business opportunities for various sectors such as food, healthcare, garments, jewellery even entertainment (rise of OTT platforms). The influx of daily consumers of grocery and food is highly noticeable because these are the fundamental essentialities that are linked to every human being, so going out and risking one’s health is not a better option to consider, and nobody is ready to do that happily that is why everyone is preferring to go digital and avail the valuable services being offered by e-Commerce.
The increased number of food apps (Contact fewer deliveries) introduced widely are the best example of people using the e-Commerce industry to get their favourite food items.
Online streaming service, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc., has reportedly added a whopping 15.8 million paid subscribers in the first three months of 2020, which coincides with the initiation of lockdown and social distancing in various parts of the world.
The growth of e-commerce has also contributed to increased digital financial services provided to small businesses and consumers. Services such as digital payments, credit, and insurance are increasingly being offered at the point of sale by non-financial companies—a trend referred to as embedded finance. This surge in embedded finance can significantly improve access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, reducing costs and increasing efficiency in the digital economy.
What are your expert tips on how to exceed customer expectations?
To meet the customer’s expectations, markets have to understand the mindset of a customer. For that, they need to understand the feedback of the customer. I have a similar interest. Being a researcher myself, I have published various research papers in similar areas. I would suggest readers visit https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0885-1550
In your opinion, what are the main trends, which will shape e-Commerce in the future?
The main trends are the various disruptive technologies like Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality(VR), Robotics, Digital Twin.
AR will enhance e-commerce. It will be a game-changer for e-commerce. With it, shoppers can genuinely see the item they’re shopping for, which helps them make a buying decision. AR changes the shopping experience in specific industries, such as fashion and home decor, because the customer can get a better feel for the item without seeing it in person. Similarly, voice assistance like Alexa and google speak will take over the daily routine tasks. Subscriptions of all sorts will add convenience and attract customers. For brands, subscription services create a way to plan for inventory and sales already locked in.