As global obsession with AI-based technologies and their increasingly growing impact on the global digital economy continues in 2024, the online commerce industry still drives this trend forward.
Non-surprisingly, the world’s e-commerce industry has been at the forefront of AI-driven trends over the past years, and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon. In this respect, these go far beyond the commonly-known AR shopping solutions, which enable trying out clothes and makeup as easily as virtually fit the new furniture into one’s apartment or office, or AI-based online retailers’ chatbots, which have become much more efficient with the evolution of ChatGPT.
Namely, as the experts predict, in 2024 AI-powered technologies will play a crucial role in enhancing the two major dimensions in the e-commerce ecosystem: external, i.e. in post-purchase customer care, and internal, where automation of operational processes will seemingly result in only more layoffs.
How AI is Reshaping Post-Purchase Customer Communications
Undoubtedly, AI has revolutionized the way customers are being approached on their online purchase journey, with AI chatbots providing essential predictive prompts and recommendations on what exactly will fit one’s needs both in a chosen product category and the associated niches and AI assistants helping customize the product selection, based on the array of granular filtering and predictive analytics. Well, as for the growth area for AI use in 2024, this definitely lies in the post-purchase communications sector.
Namely, the scope of usage is limitless: from personalized alerts and notifications regarding the product shipping and delivery statuses in real time, to highly-personalized recommendations for product care and future purchases, and even predictive analytics regarding the possible support requests in relation to the product.
In addition, AI-based technologies can also add up to the upgrade of brands’ and online retailers’ loyalty programs, enabling predictive AI tools to help customize limited offers, premium bonuses and/or other customer incentives based on their previous browsing and purchase behavior and other, highly-granular data elements, hence significantly increasing customer satisfaction and retention rates.
How AI is Changing the Workforce Structure in E-commerce
Quite predictably, following last-year’s massive layoffs streak, which primarily touched upon the Amazon workforce in 2023, the unfortunate story of AI possibly replacing a share of employees in online commerce businesses continues in 2024, too.
In this respect, some of the late January news came from eBay, which announced the company’s plans to lay off 1,000 people shortly, supposedly aiming to optimize the workforce structure to improve business results. And there was some more.
Also in January 2024, Macy’s for instance, announced their plans to reduce the staff by 3.5%, which constitutes over 2.5K people, in order to streamline their business processes (per the official announcement), and Wayfair is to slash 13% of their staff at the beginning of the year, supposedly following the same goal.
Will this trend continue in Q2 2024 and beyond? As the analysts predict, chances are high.
The truth is, while according to 2023 e-commerce data, the online customer purchase rates demonstrated resilience despite the rising inflation rates, some of the largest retailers are still facing a slowdown.
This can and probably will result in further job cuts closer to H2 2024, with AI-based tech possibly replacing people in the corporate, customer care and even retail media ad departments. As for the latter, even in spite of the recent retail media advertising boom, the latest Google’s decision to automate their ad sales division (i.e. by laying off hundreds of employees) will, perhaps, give other businesses a noticeable example of how to reduce workforce cost even more, to minimize losses.