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The AI Trends Changing Retail and E-commerce

The past few years have seen more consumers going online for their shopping needs. Despite minor dips along the way, online retail sales have steadily grown in both sales dollars and shares of total sales since the onset of the pandemic. Retailers competing in the e-commerce space must craft online experiences that attract new customers and encourage repeat business. Capitalizing on top AI trends in retail and e-commerce can help them do just that.

Over 20% of retail purchases are expected to happen online in 2024; by 2027, that number is predicted to grow to 23%. As more people shop online, brands need to consider what will help them stand out. Augmenting current strategies with the following trends can help deliver the online experience today’s customers expect.

Voice assistants and voice-enabled devices have changed many aspects of daily life, from how we run our households to how we search and shop online. 43% of people who own voice-enabled devices have used them for online shopping and rely on voice commerce because a voice search is an easier, faster, and more detail-specific way to find what they want. 

Social proof in the form of user-generated content (UGC) resonates with many consumers, especially younger generations. Videos and images created and shared by consumers influence purchasing decisions for 70% of Gen Z and 78% of millennial shoppers.

One drawback of UGC is that it may not always align with a brand’s aesthetic. Low-quality or poorly sized images present challenges because even if the content is good, a brand doesn’t want to showcase images that could reduce consumer trust.

Brands that use Cloudinary can gain the benefits of UGC while adhering to their brand’s style guidelines and remaining compliant with legal requirements. With Cloudinary’s AI technology, users can:

  • Automatically reject or remove inappropriate or offensive images.
  • Normalize images to be on-brand by removing unwanted objects, text, and logos.
  • Upscale and restore images for better visual quality while correcting overexposure and enriching color vividness.

E-commerce retailers are investing in AR/VR to give online shoppers something as close to the real try-on or demo experience as possible from wherever they are. Research from PYMNTS showed, “Of the 95% of consumers who own or have in their homes at least one connected device, 38% said they were very or extremely interested in using virtual technology to see how items look in their room before buying them.” AR/VR technology helps create immersive experiences where customers can try out and explore more products and make more confident purchasing decisions.

Visual searches rely on image metadata or reverse image retrieval to find similar products that are immediately available for purchase. Visual search allows consumers to quickly find products online by uploading an image of their ideal product to a visual search engine like Google Lens. Shoppers can easily compare similar products to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Consumer preferences extend beyond products, they include shopping methods, too. A customer should have a consistent shopping experience on whichever platform, device, or browser they’re using. Accomplishing this requires optimizing image and video files for each possible digital interaction.

Instead of searching through countless digital assets only to then optimize them for each device and platform, Cloudinary’s AI-powered Programmable Media streamlines the process. From automatic video cropping to automatic optimization to smart tagging, Cloudinary’s technology delivers the right video and image files for an optimal omnichannel experience.

The way consumers shop for products continues to evolve. The online shopping experience makes product research and comparison shopping faster and easier for consumers and more competitive for brands. Businesses that make it easy for customers to find and experience products before purchase put themselves in a better position to generate revenue and reduce the likelihood of costly returns. 

Cloudinary’s AI technology can help your business achieve retail and e-commerce success. With omnichannel optimization, user-generated content solutions, and programmable media APIs, you can incorporate emerging trends into your current e-commerce strategy. Contact us to learn more about creating innovative, immersive customer experiences.

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