Bloomreach announced a new product at The Edge Summit called Bloomreach Clarity, calling it "the future of commerce." It's all about conversational shopping and will change how many people shop online.
At the Edge Summit, Bloomreach CEO and co-founder Raj De Datta talked about Bloomreach’s use of AI. The platform has always had AI at its foundation, calling it Loomi. And Loomi powers everything. But the firm is even more excited about generative AI and what it can do for commerce.
De Datta said that it's essential we get it right, arguing that people can feel overwhelmed by everything said about AI today - good and bad - and that we need to take a "collective deep breath." We need to build a blueprint that will take us forward, and his perspective is focused on AI, e--commerce, and marketing.
According to Statistica, e-commerce made up 19% of retail sales worldwide in 2022. One of the biggest challenges for online shopping is that people find it hard to make a decision. Either more research is required, or they decide they want to visit a physical store first.
De Datta says e-commerce is built today for searchers rather than seekers. It's easy to buy what you already have, but not to shop. The process of shopping for something new online is too hard. He said there's a lot of zigging and zagging, going to multiple places online and offline to help make a decision.
"We need to redefine the problem," De Datta suggested, similar to how Uber redefined the taxi industry. But there's more to redefining the shopping experience than the mobile phone. Generative AI will enable us to design e-commerce experiences for the seeker by bringing a high-quality human experience to digital shopping.
Bloomreach Clarity - Conversational Shopping
That’s what Bloomreach Clarity is designed to do. Clarity is a conversational interface that provides personalized, human-like product expertise to help customers find the right products. It is trained on a brand’s real-time customer data and product catalogs and over 13 years of Bloomreach data on how customers shop and search. It not only shows relevant products, but it prioritizes what it knows the customer will actually buy.
The example shown was of a woman shopping for wine on her laptop and not knowing what to buy. She adds a couple of bottles to her shopping cart but doesn't complete the purchase. The AI reaches out to her via mobile and asks if it can help her. There starts a conversation about the right wine to buy based on the woman's meal plans, price range, and how she would like it delivered. It's like talking to a real person and getting advice. Imagine being able to do that when you are having a party and want help with the menu. Or for buying makeup or furnishing a new home?
Clarity works across every customer channel, including website, SMS, and chat, and it continues the same conversation wherever they are. It provides real-time targeting against the current journey and can even personalize the experience for an anonymous visitor using browsing behavior. And, of course, you can train it against brand guidelines and tone of voice.
De Datta said we need to leave bots behind and make this a moment of acceleration. Google, Bing, and other search tools trained us to write search queries with keywords and phrases. Generative AI is retraining us to be more conversational, and now there is an expectation that search will work the same way (which is why the search engines are evolving).
Putting AI at the foundation of customer experience
Bloomreach sees generative AI impacting everything: identity verification, supply chain, fraud detection, advertising, and more.
De Datta said every domain is unique, and you need to train the AI on the right data, giving it constraints and boundaries. He said we are in charge, not the AI, and must take responsibility.
AI also needs to be deeply embedded across the foundation - it needs to be at the root of every customer experience. If it’s not, you can’t trust it’s working right. De Datta said the dataset that feeds the AI can’t be only from the public web, and you can’t have multiple AIs working independently if you want to create the right experiences. It’s essential that it’s embedded, with everything talking together and indexing off the right data.
Search platforms like Google and Bing are just starting to change how people search for information. And it will undoubtedly impact people's expectations when they search on ecommerce sites. But how fast will ecommerce brands be able to meet these expectations?
FutureCommerce did a study of e-commerce professionals related to generative AI, and they found it is being embraced, with 91% using it. But it will be a slow growth to use it the way Bloomreach envisions. Not because it isn't the right path forward but because e-commerce brands will have a lot of work to do to ensure it's implemented right (and not everyone will use Bloomreach Clarity), starting with the underlying data.
Right now, the most common use of generative AI, according to this study, is content development, like product descriptions and blogs. Sixty percent said they will use it for service and support chat experiences by the end of the year, but it will take some work to ensure it's on brand and is appropriately governed. And when they do, will it look like Bloomreach's vision?