Explore how AI is reshaping e-commerce merchandising, emphasizing the indispensable role of human touch in the age of automation
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AI merchandising tools have become must-haves for e-commerce merchandising teams. While some brands are still sorting category pages manually and others just live with ineffective sorts that show out-of-stock items in valuable spaces — the most successful brands are leveraging AI-powered merchandising solutions to optimize pages for engagement and sales.
However, it's important to understand that e-commerce merchandising is not on a trajectory for total automation. Instead, expect a symbiotic relationship where AI assists, but humans provide critical oversight. It’s a future where merchandisers act as AI prompt engineers fine-tuning and customizing results for optimal performance.
Sure, that opinion may run counter to the AI hype train. Many believe the machines will automate our lives and workflows, removing humans completely from many processes — particularly mundane ones such as merchandising e-commerce sites. But the Entaice team believes that AI won’t replace e-comm teams. We’ve been working with AI long before Chat GPT took the world by storm — and we know that e-commerce merchandising demands human interaction.
Consider the nuanced world of AI image generation. If you ask an AI image generator to “create a sad picture” you’ll probably get a generic looking image that doesn’t even belong on the wall of a 1-star hotel lobby. Ask it to create an image in an impressionist style that evokes a somber mood using a specific shade of azure — and you’re more likely to get a picture you’d actually hang on your wall.
Similarly, in e-commerce, the human element is indispensable. While AI can manage straightforward tasks such as moving out-of-stock items from top positions of a category page, there are countless intricate decisions that require human judgment. What if you have dresses in multiple sizes but some sizes are not available? How do you account for different colors or different attributes of the same or similar products? What happens if you mistakenly have too much of that item in stock and need to move the product quickly?
The answers to those questions must be answered by e-commerce leaders. With merchandising systems handling the time-consuming task of physically sorting and resorting pages, e-comm teams can examine performance results like clicks, adds to cart, and sales to determine the proper strategy. They should have the ability to override AI merchandising systems to pin products in key positions or group products in aesthetically pleasing ways.
AI is the assistant. The human runs the show.
In e-commerce merchandising, change is constant. Sandals no longer sell as summer resides into autumn. The CEO really wants to promote a new line of dresses. You mistakenly manufactured too many sundresses and must sell them before the summer season ends. An AI system can't intuitively grasp why a CEO suddenly wants to prioritize a particular product line, nor can it fathom why a specific product, despite being in stock, should be deprioritized. Human intervention is needed to align the system with business objectives.
Retailers must have the ability to choose which promotional items are positioned in the most coveted real estate on category pages. They need to quickly remove items that aren’t selling. They need to group products in ways that are aesthetically pleasing to their customer bases. They need the ability to pin items in valuable positions.
To satisfy ever-changing business goals, merchandising systems must allow humans to turn the dials and make necessary updates.
Remember playing Xbox or Playstation in the mid-2000s? If you wanted to change a setting — like button configuration in Madden football for example — you’d be forced to wade through menu options to make the change. Any gamer from that era will tell you it was daunting.
The lesson for AI merchandising tools is simple: offer customizability without complicating the process. But the best solutions don’t force e-comm teams to make countless decisions before turning the AI loose. The ideal merchandising solution strikes a balance: it offers customization without overwhelming users with choices. It should enhance the user's capabilities, not become a cumbersome task.
In the age of AI, e-commerce doesn't call for humans to be sidelined but instead empowers them to lead the process by making strategic decisions. As with ChatGPT and prompt engineering, the future of e-commerce is not about machines replacing humans, but machines elevating human potential.
Discover how Ramy Brook boosted conversion rates by over 13% using Entaice for merchandising its extensive product range. What sets Entaice apart? It amplified Ramy Brook's e-commerce capabilities without compromising the brand’s unique aesthetic. Dive deeper by reading the case study here.