Artificial intelligence in e-commerce: what should we be prepared for?

Artificial intelligence in e-commerce: what should we be prepared for?
Fri, 03/08/2018

Who doesn't know the film "Her" from 2013? A shy, introverted man creates an artificial intelligence in the form of his assistant Samantha and falls in love with her in the course of the plot. Unfortunately, the love between the two has no future and is marked by insurmountable hurdles. But this is exactly what could happen in the near future, perhaps in a not quite so dramatic form. Due to the loneliness of many people, mainly in the Asian region, artificial intelligences, in the form of robots, could come into use and even replace human interaction or even friendships.


Image Artificial intelligences can act as advisors or even replace friendships in the future.

There are a number of trends and opportunities in e-commerce. From the rise of mobile commerce to necessary e-commerce technologies to the the influence of artificial intelligence on the customer experience - the future still has a lot in store for us.

In our new blog series "Artificial Intelligence in E-Commerce", we report on ways and means in which artificial intelligence can be used in e-commerce at present and, above all, in the future. It gives an insight into a world in which artificial intelligence is or will be part of everyday life.

But what exactly is behind the term "artificial intelligence", where does it come from and in what ways and forms does it manifest itself?

[tooltip title="Künstliche Intelligenz" color="blue"]Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that automates functions, imitates intelligent human behaviour and learns independently.

In short, AI attempts to mimic human perception and action through the use of machines.

The history of artificial intelligence

The term "artificial intelligence" was coined by US computer scientist John McCarthy. The birth of the term was heralded at a scientific conference at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1956.

Other important milestones in AI:

  • 1966: Chatbots exchange information with each other for the first time
  • .
  • 1977: A chess computer defeats the then world champion Kasparov
  • .
  • 2011: A computer program wins the game show Jeopardy
  • .
  • 2011: Siri is launched

Futurist and futurologist Ray Kurzweil also predicts the following scenarios for the future:

Image Ray Kurzweil even assumes that artificial intelligence will exceed human intelligence for the first time in 2045.

Whether all this will really happen remains to be seen, of course.

Applications of artificial intelligence

The areas of application for artificial intelligence are very diverse. Whether in medicine, production lines or games - this is where AI is predominantly used. In medicine, some surgical steps can be performed much more precisely. In production lines, painting or welding is often done automatically. Games such as checkers or chess often make use of artificial intelligence. This means that games designed for more than one person can also be played alone.

A study by HubSpot, in which 1400 consumers worldwide were surveyed on the topic of "artificial intelligence", shows that AI is becoming increasingly popular. 58 percent of respondents are very curious or interested in the new trend and would use AI-based tools for interaction. The German e-commerce market is even more sceptical about the use of artificial intelligence. They are worried about network security and the handling of personal data. However, the situation is different in countries like the USA and South America. Here, artificial intelligence has been on the rise for years.

Image In the USA and South America, artificial intelligence is already on the rise.

4 types of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence can be divided into four different types.

1. Purely reactive artificial intelligence

It represents the basis of artificial intelligence. Purely reactive artificial intelligence recognises the environment or situations directly and reacts to them. What it cannot do, however: Form memories or draw on experience. Examples of this are the chess computer Deep Blue from IBM, which beat the world chess champion Kasparov.

2. Systems with limited memory

This form of artificial intelligence has limited memory. This means that it can take into account parts of past information. These include, for example, self-driving vehicles, chatbots or personal digital assistants.

3. Systems with their own consciousness

This artificial intelligence develops its own consciousness, recognises itself and others. Furthermore, it can understand thoughts and emotions that influence human behaviour. This form of artificial intelligence additionally has an understanding of feelings, motives, intentions and expectations. This form does not yet exist in the real world today. An example of this is the character "Sonny" from the film "I Robot".

4. Self-aware systems

This form of artificial intelligence can form ideas about itself. It is also aware of its internal states and can predict the feelings of others. In addition, it can form abstractions as well as draw conclusions. For this reason, this artificial intelligence is super intelligent, sentient and conscious. The character "Eva" from the film "Ex Machina" is an example of such an artificial intelligence. This form of artificial intelligence also does not yet exist.

Liability in case of incorrect use or errors of artificial intelligence

Now that all forms of artificial intelligence are known, another very important question arises: who is liable if something goes wrong? Imagine the scenario of a self-driving car that causes an accident, possibly even killing people. The question of guilt is very difficult to answer here. Exactly this scenario occurred in the USA in March 2018. A 49-year-old woman was killed.

Image Autonomous driving is becoming increasingly popular.

[tooltip title="Rechtslage" color="blue"]In the event of an accident caused by a self-driving car, the driver or owner of the car is currently still liable.[/tooltip]

However, the discussions about this are very intensive and heated, so that there will certainly be some changes here in the next few years.

Artificial intelligence in e-commerce

In what form can artificial intelligence be used in e-commerce at present or in the future? Where does it come into play and which industries are particularly suited to the use of artificial intelligence? These 4 forms of artificial intelligence are already being used or will be used in the future in e-commerce.

1. chatbots

Chatbots are also on the rise in e-commerce. They are mainly used to answer customer enquiries and communicate directly with the customer. Thus, they also relieve the customer service in the company. Two birds with one stone. In the near future, chatbots could also become the perfect shopping advisors. First, however, the chatbot has to be fed with data. This enormous amount of data must first be collected.

2. Delivery robots and drones

From 2025 onwards, according to a study by McKinsey autonomous vehicles as a new trend in parcel logistics 80 percent of our parcels are delivered and even to our doorstep. Either self-driving cars, delivery robots or drones can be used for this. In some European countries, pizzas have already been delivered by Starship robots. Delivery drones, on the other hand, are more suitable for more rural areas.

Image DHL is already on the road with delivery drones. (Source: DHL)

3. Recommendation Engines

Through customised offers or dynamic product pages, artificial intelligence can suggest to customers the products they are most likely to be interested in. This is done by using collected data. This involves recording which activities the customer has already carried out on the website. Personalisation can be ensured through tailored offers created through the use of algorithms. Self-learning algorithms also record the customer's reaction and use this for further recommendations. Thus, the recommendations are constantly optimised through the use of artificial intelligence and played out in a targeted manner. It is even possible to make predictions about the purchase of a certain product by a certain customer.

4. Voice assistants

Since Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa came onto the market, voice control, in the form of voice assistants, has become indispensable. Online shopping has become more convenient and simple than ever before. The question "Siri, where is my parcel?" will be ubiquitous in the future and make shipping communication much easier. For the future, it is also predicted that the interest in voice-based services will continue to rise with increasing quality.

Image "Siri, where is my parcel?" will soon be on everyone's lips.

Here we go with the blog series on the topic of "Artificial Intelligence":

Written by



Create new reasons for people to love your brand. Build standout post-sales experiences tailored to your customers. Deliver personalized touch points that grab attention and spark loyalty.

More from the category Research