May 3, 2021
There’s a huge difference between having an ecommerce website that passively takes orders and having a smart ecommerce platform that actively generates sales. If distributors aren’t investing in AI to power a personalized experience for their customers, they can no longer expect to be competitive.
There’s a reason Amazon is the world’s top retailer and why they are the first mentioned when we talk about a smart ecommerce platform. Amazon’s AI-based product recommendation engine for personalizing users’ shopping experiences drives 35% of their ecommerce revenue.
Every part of a buyer’s journey on your website, from the home page, product pages and the checkout page, should entice them to buy more and expose customers to the items they’ve indicated they’re most likely to buy. Features and categories like “buy it again,” “customers also bought” and “recommended for you” all use AI to track patterns and make relevant recommendations. These features keep customers on your website and draw customers deeper into the shopping experience.
We have consistently seen distributors experience a double-digit boost in ecommerce revenue with AI-driven product recommendations. Suppliers and distributors can learn from Amazon’s success by using AI on their websites in these three ways:
Most distributor homepages provide an overview of random company information, but make it hard for customers to find the products they need. Instead, imagine if from the moment customers logged on, they were presented with timely reorder suggestions based on past purchases across your sales channels. Actively offering customers relevant products from the start by using their shopping history will improve their user experience and increase sales from the first click.
Imagine buying safety gloves online. An AI-powered website might show you gloves in other styles and sizes (similar items), masks (customers also bought) and safety glasses (customers also viewed). AI-powered product recommendations presented to customers when they are actively shopping on product pages help customers find exactly what they want, and the distributor wins with relevant upsells and cross-sells.
This concept isn’t new to distributors; expert sales reps have helped customers buy the best products for decades. But, until recently, digital tools have been unable to mimic this process. Your website can even learn from your sales reps’ behavior to start offering customers upsells that are proven to work when AI is used to make it more intelligent.
As a customer is wrapping up their shopping, an AI-integrated website will recognize if a user is purchasing a product that usually pairs with something else and suggest it to them. For instance, if a customer is buying a new drill, AI will recommend bits and battery packs. The checkout page becomes one last pitstop for easily adding missed items to their cart. The idea is that once customers have committed to making a purchase, it is easier to nudge them toward making a bigger buy. Grocery stores rely on the same tactics when they offer magazines and gum at the checkout line. That results in a better experience for the customer, but also the most profitable place for a distributor to add items because they are all incremental.
As distributors contend with Amazon Business, they must not only understand how Amazon is using AI, but also learn to design their websites with AI features that work with distributors’ unique multichannel sales structures.