In the United States, more than half of all households are expected to have a digital assistant or smart speaker like Google Home or Amazon Echo by 2022, and many people already today use these devices for shopping. In the Nordic region, however, relatively few consumers have purchased or plan to purchase an AI-based digital assistant. Those Nordic residents who do have one primarily use assistants to play music, do research and manage to-do lists.

robot holding a shopping basketYet when it comes to online shopping, the purchasing journey is to a high degree driven by convenience. In the next few years, AI solutions that save customers time and energy are expected to become increasingly common. Algorithms that adapt websites to customers’ preferences and customize recommendations can help to increase customer benefit. AI solutions will probably be the most radical behavioral change in how consumers shop since the takeover of the mobile phone. This means that e-commerce companies will need to be even more creative with how they reach their customers.

For example, soon consumers might ask their voice assistant to order ingredients for “pasta with tomato sauce.” The question is then what pasta and which crushed tomatoes will arrive at home – will it be a supplier’s brand or the retailer’s own brand?
Another more radical idea is that routine shopping could be replaced by algorithms automatically placing a new order on the basis of customer data or information collected by smart home appliances. Whoever controls these algorithms wields huge power over future purchasing journeys.

However, it is worth noting that many consumers feel a sense of anxiety about AI’s entry into more and more spheres of their life. In the Nordics, three out of ten citizens feel anxious about how AI may impact life moving forward, and the pattern is consistent across all age groups. This means that e-retailers must be transparent about what they are doing, work carefully with customer data, and respect their customers’ privacy.

Malin Herzig, Business Development, Direct Link

Source: “E-commerce in the Nordics”, Summary 2018