What Is Artificial Intelligence’s Place in E-commerce?

illustration depicting artificial intelligence

Recently, eBay acquired Expertmaker, a Swedish artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics company. The plan, as eBay’s Amit Menipaz claims, is to integrate the company’s technology to improve its own structured data initiative.

Sounds great, but what does it mean?

eBay will use big data and analytics to transform the storefront into a simpler and easier-to-use portal. As Menipaz said, “[It will] help us build a best-in-class product catalog and, in turn, better serve our customers.”

Expertmaker’s CEO Lars Hard said the new partnership with eBay will allow them to “create adaptive and learning solutions” with its platform.

Essentially, the AI will be allowed to crawl the site and help the company build a map – a data map so to speak – that can be used to clean up the structure and organization.

There are many applications of AI technology in e-commerce. So, who else is using AI to improve their e-commerce game, and what are they using it for?

We know it can be used for security, image-recognition software, personalized shopping experiences and much more. What we don’t know is how other companies will leverage the technology. Unlike eBay, most companies are playing it close to the chest, so we’re left to speculate.

What Companies Have Acquired AI Technology?

In January, Apple announced it had acquired Emotient, a tech startup focused on AI facial recognition technology. Then, Amazon confirmed it had acquired Orbeus, an AI image recognition company.

More recently, Sony’s CEO Hiroaki Kitano announced it has invested in Cogitai, an AI machine technology startup. The reasoning is Sony felt like it was lagging behind other companies in the development of artificial intelligence for practical application.

What does all this tell you?

The major players in e-commerce are shifting their focus to AI technology, with plans to improve who knows what.

Amazon, for example, could use the technology to create a unique security application for its online storefront and Fire platforms. In addition, it could use the AI tech to improve search and function on its Fire products and gaming platforms.

It could even integrate the technology into its Echo products – infamous for Alexa – to improve how the entire system works. Imagine Alexa being able to recognize images in addition to voice commands. Now that would be something.

The same is true of Apple. Will it use the technology it’s acquired to improve existing products, or will it create something entirely new?

The possibilities appear limitless at this point, but surely – sometime soon – we’ll have to come out of the clouds.

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