The future is here: 4 ways AI improves B2B e-commerce

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In today’s competitive markets, B2B companies must constantly look for ways to go above and beyond what their peers have to offer. Many are using AI in B2B e-commerce to leap ahead.

In fact, AI is fast becoming critical for business survival. Ritu Jyoti, program vice president,  artificial intelligence at IDC, says, “companies will adopt AI — not just because they can, but because they must.”

According to IDC, global spending on AI is predicted to double within the next four years, growing from $50.1 billion in 2020 to a forecasted $110 billion in 2024.

AI in e-commerce: Solving tough problems

Wholesale distributors and other B2B organizations are increasingly using intelligent technology to interpret data at scale and identify real solutions to business problems in order to support customer loyalty and revenue growth.

Leveraging machine learning, AI can help analytically, practically, or even creatively, in contrast to the mechanical feeling of traditional automation.

B2B organizations have rich sources of data around their products, their customers, and the interaction between them. Tapping into those sources, machine learning technologies can adapt to new situations as they are encountered, learning from the data in real-time to make a positive impact on the business, in a way no human can.

Using AI in e-commerce can help solve complex business challenges with greater ease and speed by allowing companies to:

  1. Enhance customer experiences
  2. Make better business decisions
  3. Reduce costs and increase efficiency
  4. Accelerate time to value

Four use cases for AI in B2B e-commerce

To better understand the positive impact AI can make on B2B companies, let’s dive into four common use cases.

1. Save the sale

Too often, a customer may find their desired product or products out of stock and then drop off without making a purchase. This results in an unhappy customer and lost sales – often to a competitor.

With the help of product data, product context, interactions, and user context, AI can offer timely and smart offers to save the sale when the original item is out of stock or perhaps not the right fit for the customer. This dynamic and continuous prevention of loss of sale across all products enhances the user experience and increases revenue.

2. Intelligent comparison

Sixty-five percent of buyers prefer to do their research without talking to sales reps. In fact, the ability to compare the price and features of products is among the top five reasons customers buy online rather than in-person. This can actually hurt a distributor without the right technology, as poor comparison capabilities are one of the main sources of frustration for B2B shoppers.

In this situation, AI can shine by pulling data from many sources such as product data and context, interactions, user context, and firmographics to provide intelligent comparison options.

Instead of the buyer going through hundreds of specs for thousands of products, AI can easily automate time-consuming comparison tasks and provide timely insight to build a convincing case for them to purchase.

3. Smart replenishment

Modern B2B customers expect self-service when it comes to their orders and repeat buyers have become increasingly reliant on B2C-centric capabilities such as quick-order forms and automatic replacement.

Here, AI leverages data around interactions, user context, and firmographics to allow for smart replenishment of products.  This can provide order forecasting based on collective wisdom and buyers’ context across various segments of customers for stock replenishment, improving customer loyalty and reduce churn.

4. Category management

This is a common problem area for B2B buyers, as commerce category managers are constantly challenged with understanding what products should be exposed on the home page and how product sales velocity and margin are trending.

With the help of product context and interaction data, AI can help category managers across hundreds of categories and attributes to balance the performance of products, thereby increasing demand, profit, and more.

The future of B2B e-commerce is AI

These use cases provide powerful proof of the benefits of AI in B2B e-commerce. For companies that haven’t started on the path of implementing AI to support their B2B e-commerce strategy, now is the time.

With the support of artificial intelligence (AI), leading wholesale distributors are expanding beyond traditional industry boundaries and accelerating their journey to become proactive, insight-driven companies.

It’s a brave new world. Are you ready? Get started HERE.

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Dr. Heidar (Amir) Pirzadeh

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