Machine vs human merchandiser: AI-powered e-commerce optimisation

The idea that AI can remove the heavy lifting of online merchandising by carrying out millions of calculations, and make decisions in near real time whilst constantly learning, is a big claim.

What’s needed is evidence that letting go of manual intervention and allowing the computer to ‘get on with it’ is going to make the customer journey smoother and increase conversion and sales.

>See also: Using AI to transform e-commerce

And the evidence is in…but first the method: In an A/B test conducted by leading Nordic beauty retailer Kicks, a home page was manually produced by merchandisers using their experience and knowledge. This page was pitched against an automated page completely delivered by Apptus eSales using AI and machine learning.

Stunning results

The results are that the automated version received an eight times higher click-through rate than the manual version, eight times more add to baskets and where the manual version generated one sale transaction, the automated version succeeded in generating 101 sales transactions.

According to Jenny Vesterlund, e-commerce manager at Kicks: “It was not long before the results unambiguously spoke for the Apptus eSales version, we saw a strong increase in all indicators; click through rate, percentage added to the shopping cart, number of purchases, conversion rate and average order value.”

>See also: How Tesco is using AI to gain customer insight 

Letting go

After a few days Kicks decided to completely abandon the manual approach and hand sales generation over to Apptus eSales. “We’re looking forward to doing even more testing and use of automation in the future, especially now that we’ve seen how well it can work,” concluded Vesterlund.

Based on this case study, AI in online merchandising really can make a difference compared to a manual approach. Seemingly, there is no need to take a leap of faith, just a step in the right direction.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...