The growing popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) in retail is now starting to influence B2B buyer expectations.
Many buyers have already experienced AI-based marketing when Netflix or Amazon give recommendations based on their previous buying history and ratings.
Forward-looking B2B companies are looking to machine learning and AI to improve search results, reordering, personalization, and marketing and to streamline business processes.
However, because B2B transactions usually involve several points of contact with people in different roles, the application of AI needs to be more sophisticated.
Your buyers don’t want to search thousands of items in your catalogue. AI is now enabling the next generation of search tools. A mobile app with image recognition, for example, will allow a photograph taken with a smartphone to launch a search. The app can deliver relevant results based on the image and your buyer’s purchase history.
As consumers we are happy to ask Siri and Alexa for answers. Combining traditional text-based search with text to speech and image recognition allows each buyer to search according to their individual preference.
Chatbots are already improving interactions with buyers through realistically simulated ‘conversations’, with the capacity to pass customers over to customer service specialists when they are unable to resolve enquiries.
B2B buyers are looking for fast and relevant search results. AI can help businesses to anticipate a buyer’s needs by analysing their previous purchases to predict what they will need next.
This process can help to automate marketing campaigns and make reordering easier. It can also be used to recommend complementary products and services such as spare parts, technical support advice or extended warranties.
This provides an enhanced experience for the buyer, which helps to build brand loyalty.
AI can also compare a specific client’s buying history with business-wide patterns to optimise the channels and timing or prompts, promotions and sales offers.
AI is now making it possible to extract usable information from the large data resource generated by your ecommerce and other business systems. This can make it easier to identify new patterns of buyer behavior that will help to improve product offers, inspire your marketing and speed up decision-making.
AI can also help to streamline administrative processes like stock control processes with automated tracking and reordering, saving time that can be used on income generation instead.
While AI-enhanced intelligence can help to deliver a truly personalized experience to each buyer, your sales and customer services teams can also use the same information to inform conversations with them. This allows them to maintain consistency at every single touch point with your business.
The same information can be seen and used across all of your integrated business systems, constantly refreshed by their latest purchasing behavior.
It gives your buyers the freedom to self-serve when they want, and to speak with your expert sales and technical staff when they need to.