AI trends propelling small business success
From content to personalization, AI is becoming embedded in ecommerce, writes Wix VP of Online Stores Oren Inditzky.
Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash
From content to personalization, AI is becoming embedded in ecommerce, writes Wix VP of Online Stores Oren Inditzky.
Artificial Intelligence technologies (AI) are shaping the future of ecommerce. With machine capabilities imitating intelligent human behavior and responding to an environment with little or no human input, these computer programs can automate human tasks. Small businesses are implementing these technologies to help propel their businesses forward. 51% of ecommerce businesses have already implemented automation technologies across sales, marketing, and customer service to ensure a seamless user experience for customers. And it’s working, with 79% of respondents stating that integrating AI into their marketing and sales channels has increased business revenue.
This is just the beginning of AI integration into ecommerce. 80% of retail executives expect their companies to adopt AI-powered intelligent automation by 2027. Additionally, by 2030, AI-powered ecommerce solutions will be a $16.8 billion market. This shows that as more companies continue to shift their focus from offline shopping to digital, they’re going to rely more on AI-powered technologies to help them boost marketing and convert sales to increase their gross payment volume (GPV). This is why the trend for AI to be embedded into ecommerce is only growing, and AI technologies and tools are available for small businesses to implement to drive their businesses forward.
The below ecommerce trends powered by AI are driving the retail industry forward into new unforeseen spaces and will continue to do so over the coming years.
One of the main challenges with creating an online presence is creating and writing the content and text to put on the website. This includes content for product descriptions, customer FAQs, “About Us” sections and more. Owners don’t know what to write; they question if their language is accurate and compelling enough. Now, there are AI tools to help businesses generate high-quality and uniquely-tailored content, such as Wix’s AI Text Editor. By entering several inputs about the desired text, within seconds, these features create selections of tailored titles, taglines, and paragraphs to choose from, combating the time-consuming efforts needed to complete a professional-looking website and essential marketing materials including the following:
Social media posts: AI tools can create social media posts that promote products, announce sales, and engage with followers. These models can generate eye-catching and compelling content that will drive engagement and, ultimately, sales.
Email marketing campaigns: AI tools can assist in creating email campaigns that target specific segments of the customer base. The model can generate subject lines, body text, and call-to-action language that will drive conversions and boost sales.
Landing pages: AI tools can be used to create compelling landing pages that convert website visitors into customers. The model can generate persuasive copy and images that will capture the attention of potential customers and persuade them to purchase.
Customer retention strategies are more important than ever. It costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, and existing customers are 50% more likely to buy from a seller again. This cost gap between acquiring new customers and retaining existing buyers will continue to grow as competition continues to rise. AI can help with improving customer retention. In 2020, chatbots responded to 85% of customer service interactions, and 80% of retail and ecommerce businesses use AI chatbots or plan to use them in the near future. No matter the inquiry, AI assistants can connect with customers 24/7 and solve or streamline the process for the customer support agents in the case of more complicated tickets.
Online merchants are increasingly using AI to adapt their online storefronts in real time to generate personalized shopping experiences, catalogs, and promotions. AI tools give merchants the ability to offer and present the right products in the right order for the right user to reduce friction and increase conversion. This is very important nowadays with almost three-quarters (74%) of consumers getting frustrated with product information that’s not personalized. Additionally, product recommendation tools can learn from shoppers' interactions and by applying different recommendation algorithms can increase average order value. And buyers expect nothing less with 40% of consumers expecting to receive discounts and special shopping offers from AI chatbots.
These AI ecommerce trends will continue to drive more change within the retail industry. Small business owners should not only be aware of these trends with AI tools but lean into them and embrace them as the future of retail to advance their content, retention rates, and personalization. It’s safe to say that AI in ecommerce has become, and will continue to be, a disruptive force in the retail industry as more and more businesses are integrating AI into their marketing and sales efforts, and it’s working to increase their GPV.
Oren Inditzky is VP of Online Stores at Wix.
Accurate inventory is now essential for Amazon FBA sellers, writes Emplicit's Evan Sherman.
Amazon used to be a lot more laissez faire about how Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) sellers used their fulfillment centers. Sellers could send in inventory, and, while the space wasn’t unlimited, if their sales were not as forecasted they would simply pay long-term storage fees. Sure, if a seller’s inventory management was poor enough they would have their inventory storage limits reduced and pay higher storage fees, but this was just an incentive not to let things slide too much.
However, in 2022 Amazon reduced storage limits overall to the point where some FBA sellers had sales and catalog size impacted, and in March 2023 Amazon revised their inventory system. There is now an incentive for FBA sellers to be highly accurate with inventory management because Amazon will reward them with increased storage limits. Precision is a carrot now, rather than a stick.
In this article, we provide five strategic methods that sellers can utilize to optimize inventory management on Amazon.
Achieving successful inventory management on Amazon requires a profound understanding of past demand patterns and the capacity to accurately forecast future demand. Seasonality, market trends, historical sales figures, competitor activity and planned promotions all play a crucial role in determining the trajectory of sales.
At Emplicit, we advocate for the analysis of multiple historical data points, encompassing previous 7, 30, 60, and 90-day sales figures. Our logistics experts factor in internal factors such as stock availability, marketing spend, promotions, and sales and margin targets, and external factors such as seasonality, Amazon trends, new category restrictions and market entrants. A comprehensive review of shipments in working, shipped, or receiving status is also beneficial. Striking a balance between what has been sold, what is available, and what's en route to an Amazon fulfillment center is key to precise forecasting.
Inventory management isn’t a static task; it requires constant vigilance and flexibility. FBA sellers should regularly review and modify their demand forecasts, adjust their replenishment suggestions based on demand shifts, and update their minimum reorder points as required.
Sellers should review sales daily, plan replenishment frequencies to suit their needs, and maintain appropriate inventory levels at Amazon. Weekly replenishments can help keep a seller’s inbound pipeline full, minimize out-of-stock instances, and account for unforeseen supply chain disruptions.
Amazon’s organic and paid algorithms prioritize products with high sell-through rates. This means best selling products end up selling better. Focusing on high-performing items allows FBA sellers to reduce monthly storage costs, avoid aged inventory and the associated fees that Amazon imposes, and curtail the need for costly removal orders. And sales velocity is the quickest way to get Amazon to increase your storage limits. Concentrate on the 20% of items that generate 80% of sales.
At the same time, sellers should prune their catalogs by removing slow-selling items. These items negatively affect Amazon’s Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score, which directly influences the space Amazon allocates to a seller’s inventory in their fulfillment centers.
If sellers are tight on inventory space, as well as the best-selling products, they should prioritize products with higher margins until Amazon provides additional storage, and they should reduce marketing spend accordingly – something which necessitates a close relationship between inventory and marketing.
Ranking products by sales and margins, and calculating the storage space each product takes up will go a long way towards understanding and anticipating demand on Amazon.
Amazon’s capacity management system is a new system for allocating inventory limits to FBA sellers and allowing sellers to gauge their inventory capacity at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. It also enables sellers to bid on increases to their inventory limits.
Previously, Amazon had restock limits which were updated weekly based on the seller’s previous 90-day sales. Restock limits were determined by Inventory Performance Index (IPI) metrics such as sell-through, excess inventory, and stranded inventory. However, because the restock limits were updated weekly, it was challenging to plan accordingly, especially heading into a peak season or if a seller was about to run a promotion.
With Amazon’s Capacity Monitor program, sellers are given a monthly capacity outlook based on the cubic feet of space occupied by their products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and their IPI metrics. Amazon not only provides a current month outlook on available space; they provide an estimate for the next three months which can aid in the inventory planning process.
To take advantage of the new system, it’s imperative FBA sellers understand their product's physical footprint in relation to the allotted space Amazon provides (Amazon does still provide unit estimates). Knowing a product’s cubic feet and the product tier designation allows for effective planning of inventory replenishment. Exceeding space limits means overage fees from Amazon, however, if a seller knows they have a peak in sales coming up they can bid for additional capacity (in cubic feet). However, selling-through this additional inventory means Amazon waives those fees, so it’s a win-win.
At Emplicit, we have seen the capacity monitor program benefit our clients, with many clients seeing an increase in the amount of inventory they can ship in – likely due to healthy sell-through velocity and other IPI metrics. The program has fundamentally changed the way we approach managing our inventory on Amazon, so everything sellers do regarding inventory planning should be within the context of Amazon’s capacity monitor program.
Smart sellers should already be considering the impact of their product packaging on their FBA fulfillment fees. If the actual product size allows, sellers can generate significant savings by reducing the size of their packaging. Amazon’s Small Standard rates are 15-20% cheaper than Large Standard rates depending on weight, and Amazon’s Small & Light rates are 15-27% cheaper still than Small Standard rates. However, fulfillment cost savings are not the only reason to reduce packaging size, smaller packaging can significantly increase Amazon inventory cost-efficiencies.
With Amazon’s capacity management system providing inventory space based on cubic feet rather than number of units, the space each product takes up is now more important than ever. While larger packaging sizes can sometimes improve sales in brick and mortar retail, sellers should consider developing smaller Amazon-only packaging. This will not only reduce fulfillment costs, but allow more units to be stored in the same inventory space. The combined savings can more than offset the cost of a redesign and second packaging print run.
Additionally, smaller packaging may qualify sellers for Amazon’s Compact By Design badge. This helps brands stand out, and increases click-throughs and conversions. (We suspect there are algorithm tweaks for brands with certain badges too, but it’s difficult to prove.) Amazon-specific packaging can help with Transparency (anti-counterfeiters) and help combat unauthorized resellers.
While it might seem like a significant investment and not something the inventory team typically gets involved with, reducing packaging size is a long-term way for FBA sellers to optimize inventory management.
Amazon Global Logistics (AGL) offers a streamlined solution for sellers whose products are manufactured in China. AGL eliminates the need to use freight forwarders who would usually receive a shipment from China, then split up that shipment and forward on to multiple Amazon fulfillment centers per the standard FBA process. Instead, sellers can book shipments directly with Amazon, complete the necessary export/import documentation, and ship directly to US, UK or European fulfillment centers – sending the entire shipment to a single fulfillment center.
If leveraged properly, AGL can save sellers thousands of dollars in warehouse and 3PL fees and reduce the need for inventory to be processed multiple times before it arrives at Amazon’s fulfillment center, meaning inventory gets where it needs to be quicker.
AGL offers two shipping options – Standard Ocean Freight and Fast Ocean Freight – with the standard option giving sellers the opportunity to either ship via a full container load (FCL) or less than container load (LCL). Shipping partial container loads with Amazon doesn’t slow shipments down versus other carriers because of Amazon’s scale. Amazon’s economies of scale mean that AGL can offer shipping prices from mainland China and Hong Kong that most sellers are unable to match. And Amazon’s expert customs brokers get products cleared through customs quickly because Amazon has a vested interest in shortening the time to market.
This one-step international shipping direct to Amazon was actually something we pioneered before the advent of this service from AGL – working with our client Shapermint and their manufacturers in China and logistics team to ensure packaging and shipments were FBA compliant. However, now AGL offers this service, it’s an even easier solution to a common challenge. We suspect AGL will roll out in other international manufacturing markets, but Amazon is tight-lipped for now.
Amazon inventory management is complex and needs constant attention. Sellers can hire a fractional inventory specialist because this is not something that should be trusted to an Amazon generalist. If sellers get inventory right, it will keep pace with sales. But if they get it wrong, their inventory can become the main thing holding them back.
Evan Sherman is the director of logistics at Emplicit.