With the hype surrounding ChatGPT, “generative AI” has become a hot topic and no industry has been left untouched. But for many small business owners and operators, there isn’t enough time or budget to hop on the latest tech trend, so it’s critical to separate the hype from reality.
Given how quickly generative AI has gained widespread attention , its initial hype cycle may already be giving way to “a second smaller wave of the things that actually work,” according to Brian Hennessey, Co-founder and CEO of the AI-powered product information management (PIM) solution Talkoot. Some tangible use cases are beginning to emerge, particularly when it comes to the content that drives customer experiences online. And a whole host of companies — from emerging brands like Henry Rose to conglomerates Coca-Cola — are putting this technology to work across:
- Product information management, in particular developing product descriptions;
- Search engine optimization; and
- A range of other copy-based tasks including marketing and advertising, customer service emails and social media posts.
Creating Product Descriptions at Scale
In any job there is some element of drudgery, and for ecommerce professionals feeding the always-hungry beast of the internet with product copy certainly tops the list. As ecommerce has become a larger piece of all brands’ businesses, that job has ballooned.
Not only must brands have detailed product copy for their own sites (already a monumental task), but many must also adapt that text and apply best practices for other platforms like Amazon.
Darren Hill, Chief Digital Officer at BrandX, has trialed generative AI for just that purpose and noted that the improvements in efficiency and speed are incredible. In one instance he was able to generate the same number of product descriptions that it would have taken a writer a week to turn out in under 10 minutes.
“[Generative AI] works best for products where you’re not trying to change behavior, you’re just confirming that yes, these are the kinds of shirts that you’ve always worn and love, or for something like trail-running shoes where the behavior and the need is already identified,” said Hennessey. “When you’re trying to change behavior and [introduce] something new that will revolutionize [a category or experience], that absolutely needs a writer to help change minds and get people excited.”
Recognizing that many companies don’t have the staff to create product descriptions at the scale and speed now required for modern commerce, Shopify unveiled a tool to allow its merchants to create AI-generated product descriptions, and a number of solutions already in market, like Talkoot, are continuously working with the latest generative AI tech to evolve their offerings as well.
Jungle Scout just announced an integration with Open AI to create Amazon listings instantly, while a number of other solutions exist solely for that purpose.
Playing New Rules for SEO
One trickle-down effect of having more (and more detailed) product copy is the positive impact it can have on search rankings, according to Hill. “Your product descriptions on a lot of stuff don’t need to be the best, they just need to be different, and that’s where [generative AI] is super powerful.”
Using AI to generate variations in product copy and to update that copy regularly can have a huge impact in beating out the competition online. This is especially critical for brands on Amazon and Google, since both rank recent or “fresh” content higher.
“Just updating your content every quarter will help you rank higher to begin with, but then if you actually match search intent — so [that] if Google recognizes that people are searching for holiday cookie recipes right now and you launch fresh content that says how great your product is for holiday cookies, that will help you rank higher in both Amazon and Google,” Hennessey added. “It’s really about creating that up-to-the-minute, fresh content all the time, which was way too expensive before.”
Email, Social Media and Beyond
While product descriptions are a practical, scalable application for generative AI at retail, Lori Schafer, CEO of the product experience management (PXM) solution Digital Wave Technology, said she doesn’t think it’s the “most compelling” use case. On a recent webinar with Coresight Research she pointed to other, more advanced use cases, such as automating the tagging of product “attributes” (size, color, shape, style, etc.), which is vital to a website’s CX, but “very laborious” when done manually.
Another area ripe for AI automation is the creation of product copy across the entire customer journey. “Every product has a story, and you’ve got to match that to the consumers’ lifestyle so the consumer can imagine how that product’s going to be a part of their life,” said Schafer. “On a website you need a whole lot of content — romance copy, descriptions, videos, images — but you go to TikTok and you need one video, you go to Instagram and you need a picture and a statement. This [technology] can automatically determine which parts of that product story go to which of the various digital commerce channels.”
Michelle Pfeiffer’s ecommerce fragrance brand Henry Rose has done the same in partnership with global ad tech agency Constellation, leveraging the technology to deploy hundreds of personalized iterations of creative assets based on demographics and geographies across Meta, TikTok, Google and programmatic. The results have been impressive — the Constellation-generated ads brought in 83.2% more customers and increased website visits by 73.1%, with a 12.6% improvement in return on ad spend (ROAS).
And as McKinsey recently pointed out, because “striking gold” on social can be a numbers game, the more content you produce, the better your chances of hitting the mark. Not only can AI-generated content save time, but because AI can recognize patterns and trends on social faster than a human, it can more readily create new content that does just that.
This article was adapted from a piece initially published on Retail TouchPoints, written by Ecommerce Editor Nicole Silberstein.