AI is hot, but where do we stand as an industry? We asked 300 eCommerce decision makers on the current adoption of AI in their business to find out.

When ChatGPT launched at the end of November 2022, you could spend the first few weeks showing off its capabilities to randomers at parties, terrifying the travel bloggers in the midst with the speed at which it could generate an article on wherever they’d been, and were loudly reminding you of.

But sadly, this didn’t last. By the end of 2022, everyone, from leading tech gurus to the most isolated hermits, had ChatGPT on the tip of their tongues, using it for anything and everything, like writing copy and analyzing code. Now, fast forward several months and we have Gartner reporting that we’re at the peak of generative AI hype, plus an IBM survey revealing that investors and boardroom execs are pushing companies to use AI even more.
But how does all this impact eCommerce as an industry? Well, we asked 300 of Europe’s leading eCommerce decision makers and we’re excited to finally reveal their insights.

What’s the impact of AI adoption for eCommerce? 

AI and eCommerce are becoming fast friends, with a recent Capgemini study showing that retail places only second after High Tech in the adoption of generative AI. But it’s better to run the numbers in these situations and show you precisely how AI adoption is impacting the industry: 

  • 70% state that AI had a major impact on their current eCommerce success 
  • 97% see a positive impact of their AI investments on revenue  
  • 76% see a positive impact of their AI investments of +11% revenue or higher 
  • 96% state that they have already automated part of their eCommerce operations using AI 

The top three areas where AI has improved eCommerce results are: Customer Support (1), Search and Recommendations (2) and Automation (3). These results clearly indicate that eCommerce decision makers see the positive impact of adopting AI technology, but exactly how much are these industry leaders investing in emerging AI technology? 

What are your peers investing in AI technology for eCommerce? 

The average investment in AI technology for eCommerce in 2022 was between €100,000 and €500,000. Of course, this heavily depends on the size of the business, with 64% of companies with 500+ employees investing more than €500,000. Interestingly, the current economic headwinds are not a reason for most decision-makers to cut investments in AI technology, and 86% state that their investments in AI are actually increasing compared to 2021. 
The table below shows the distribution of investment amounts in AI across the 300 decision makers:  

Where do we stand on AI powered onsite experiences? 

Looking at online stores, the top features that are already AI-powered are: search (51%), personalization (44%), recommendations (42%), and some form of shopping assistant chatbot (42%). 

The highest average increase in revenue can be seen after investing in AI-powered merchandising (+25%), search (+22%), and personalization (+22%). With these results, it’s not surprising that in the next 12 months, decision-makers plan to invest in powering many of their onsite features with AI. More details can be found in our trend report. 

AI will only become more relevant in the eCommerce value chain 

With the latest innovations in AI (especially generative AI), the intelligence and therefore practical business applications of the tool are destined to skyrocket. As of now, the top three areas where eCommerce decision makers want to incorporate LLMs into their value chain are: support, marketing, and onsite experience. 

Said decision makers are the ones who predict that generative AI will become ever more relevant to the eCommerce value chain:

“I think they should manage almost all of the value chain. External people will have to revise and correct flawed results every now and then, though.“  

I think it will be responsible for like 80% of the eCommerce management.”

And out of the 300 industry leaders surveyed, 62% state that the size of their eCommerce teams will only increase if they continue to adopt additional AI technology. This goes against the general belief – or, rather, fear – that AI will replace jobs in the near future. But to echo the most common counterargument to this theory, emerging technology always brings with it a new host of job titles. In the context of AI, recent examples include Prompt Engineer and Language Model Trainer. 

The AI arms race is on

We have seen the positive impact of AI for eCommerce businesses for quite a few years now, and with the latest innovations in a technology that’s taken the world by storm, more intelligence features and more efficient automation are becoming increasingly critical to the eCommerce value chain. 
Additionally, online businesses can now, for the first time, truly deliver on the megatrend of individualization with authentic, 1:1 personalized experience. From end to end, customers will feel like every touchpoint is tailored to them, from the initial ad to product delivery and beyond. 
And with LLMs being able to understand natural language, we’ll also see search and shopping behavior undergo major shifts in the online world. Users will start to describe their abstract problems instead of just searching for keywords, and you can bet that the expectations on their favorite platforms will be sky-high when it comes to guiding them to the perfect product. 
Both survey findings and the general feeling in the world of business highlight that early adopters of generative AI and AI savvy companies in general have already benefited from significant efficiency and revenue gains. This, coupled with the increasing pressure from investors and boards to adopt AI technology – and the threat of being left behind – will be driving greater investments in AI for years to come. 
Truly, the AI arms race in eCommerce is in full effect, and there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.