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Can AI Bring Sales From the ‘E-commerce Paleolithic’?

While shopping for party wear for his daughter, Shridhar Mary had an idea of ​​where e-commerce should go.

His daughter had just graduated from Syracuse University, and she had very specific requirements for the parties to follow. She wanted “effortlessly cool” that was “simple, elegant, and not extravagant.” None of the beauty products can be tested on animals. There was context and nuances to what she sought, yet websites and marketplaces offered thousands of irrelevant products.

Ah ha! Mari realized that digital commerce was lagging behind in-store sales in a vital way. While companies have increasingly wanted customers to use digital channels, customers often crave personalized guidance and advice. These two imperatives seemed to be mutually exclusive. Can they be reconciled?

Al-Marri set up his company Flyfish to try. He explains what happened next. “We built the platform and created integrations for the group of companies, so any brand could come in, have their data ingested, connect their product catalogs and then offer a consultative sales experience. Along the way, generative AI came along and we saw that as a godsend. It could It makes the experience more compelling. So we’ve integrated with Language Large Models (LLMs) to create a truly consultative sales experience at the time of purchase.”

The role of LLMs versus other forms of artificial intelligence

While much of the current literature on AI focuses on generative platforms such as ChatGPT, the best solutions often blend forms of AI. Flyfish has created its own AI stack to take this approach.

Al-Marri sets the approach. “There is an AI algorithm at the foundation of the stack to make personalized recommendations based on the seller’s catalog as well as curated input. These can include CRM data about the buyer, data about past conversations, and information from ERP about inventory availability and pricing. LLM then rides on top to give Humanity over responsiveness. Furthermore, we need to tailor the LLM to a sales use case in a specific industry sector, so that it has the right language to persuade. We take the open source LLM and build on it to achieve that outcome.”

What does this mean for the future of e-commerce?

Al-Marri believes that e-commerce has reached a turning point. “It’s getting cold and impersonal. While there may be a plethora of options, it can be hard to find the right product.” He continues, “The key thing is to bring the high touch experience when you are online. If you walk into a store, proactive sales agents will help you in a totally appropriate way. You don’t rely on this advice all the time. Here, you can have a tagalong advisor that the consumer can kind of believe in.” What, especially when they seem objective and knowledgeable. The experience of having a personal advisor can really grow.”

This is a vision shared by Bill Gates. Tell a Goldman Sachs event In March, “Whoever wins the personal agent, that’s the big thing, because you’ll never go to a search site again, you’ll never go to a production site, you’ll never go to Amazon again.”

Whether or not Flyfish helped create this personal agent, visibility seems to be spreading and the shopping experience could change quickly. Mary concludes, “Just a few years into the future, we will see 2023 as a primitive time for digital sales. The Paleolithic age of e-commerce. It will be like perusing the early web and seeing only text and hyperlinks.”

Today, sales AI tools are usually talked about as sales enablement tools. If Mary or others can pull off the feat of having near-AI sales, and not just enabling humans to make them, her epiphany in party wear really will be something to celebrate.

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