09 Mar 2017

4 Ways Your Ecommerce App Can Benefit from Natural Language Processing

For an ecommerce service provider, time has a different meaning. The inability, or inadequate ability, to reach out to each individual online shopper with the right offer at the right instant results in exorbitant abandonment and conversion rates. Not surprisingly, in 2016 the great majority of ecommerce providers reported a staggering 60-70% abandonment rate. If you engage in ecommerce, we are sure you could improve your conversion rate as well.

The Root of All (Well, Almost All) Ecommerce Evil

What does this actually mean? It’s very simple. While ecommerce sites vie with one another in look and feel, SEO, inventory, A/B-testing, a multitude of landing pages and payment workflows, the core problem that prevents their owners from making it to the big leagues persists. And this is the problem of being unable to instantly and precisely understand their visitor’s meaning based on the search info they provide and the satisfying product they offer this visitor. No wonder: just as there are many men and many minds, there are many lingos. Lamentably, there is no way for ecommerce apps with the conventional (SKU-, text search-based, and keyword matching algorithm-driven) approach to become shrewd enough to understand them all.

NLP: the Long-Awaited Remedy is Here

But not all the news is bad. Now in the early stages of a ground-breaking revolution, the full powers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are finally being unleashed in numerous areas. The AI technology for Natural Language Processing (NLP), which began in the late 1950’s, is, all of a sudden, no longer an inquisitive and bespectacled kid but a grown-up and aspiring scientist, who efficiently solves real-world problems. The technology’s main purpose is enabling unhindered conversation of man and machine. Here is how NLP can make a dent in your ecommerce business and turn your app into a much better performer.

(Immensely) Improving the Site Search

Precision of the site search is central to any ecommerce business. The currently prevalent approach sifts out one or more keywords from the user-provided phrase and identifies the part of the inventory associated with those keywords. With a human, that would be like having to talk about things that matter using only gestures. Sometimes, you get the message; sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, you lose relevant details which are often your prospect’s decision-making factors. Contained in the "long tails" of search phrases, specifics get cut off by the conventional approach and, eventually, lost. This is not the case with NLP. The technology not only ensures a holistic analysis of the user-entered phrase, including colloquialisms and not so often used terms, but it also enables efficient processing of misspellings. With Natural Language Processing, your ecommerce solution will also be able to understand synonyms. Overall, harnessing NLP for site search optimization purposes results in a 20-25% upswing in your add-to-cart rate. According to Ofer Alt of Celebros, e-commerce websites that feature a NLP-powered Semantic Search capability boast a miniscule 2% abandonment rate, compared with the hefty 40% shown on average by sites with text-based search.

Providing a More Engaging and Seamless User Experience Through the Use of Chat bots

NLP-powered chat bots are spreading like wildfire and finding dozens of new applications in business domains and niches. Their mushrooming advent bodes especially well for ecommerce, given the current ongoing shift from on-wall client communication on social to client communication via messengers. Here, NLP can help you conduct hundreds or even thousands of personalized concurrent conversations with your potential customers, while providing an altogether different, more pleasant and engaging shopping experience. With time, as face recognition, voice recognition and other technologies progress, chat bots may become your visitors’ best friend, leading to a greater number of returning customers. And one more thing, – chat bots are multi-lingual entities. As such, they can help you cost-effectively extend your business’ reach to locations that would otherwise prove difficult, or, even, impossible to chart.

Giving a Boost to Your Cross-Selling and Upselling

Product recommendations are hugely important in ecommerce. NLP can help you identify a much larger and more refined set of product attributes that interest your visitors. These product attributes, including those from the visitor’s previous searches, can be used for recommendation purposes. Moreover, they can be tapped to create cross-category product recommendations, so you can offer a complementary or matching product. Basically, if your visitor was on the lookout for, or actually bought, a pair of brown shoes during another recent search, you can offer them shoe polish of a matching color, even if the attribute "brown" is not indicated during the visitor's current search. Or, if the shopper is hunting for a rifle of a certain caliber, you will be able to offer them ammunition of the same caliber.

Improving Your SEO

Without NLP, you could lose a mammoth number of search queries for tags that could potentially improve the SEO of your ecommerce app. With NLP, less common terms, regional usages, slang terms, and colloquialisms from your visitors’ searches can all be used to automatically create corresponding tags for your inventory. You could reduce your stock of knit caps to a dude from a neighboring block who calls one a “skully” or to a Canadian guy looking for a “tuque”. This capability of NLP is yet another reason for you to consider using Artificial Intelligence to enrich your ecommerce.



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