Chief Technology Officer, VP of Technology, IT Director – the list goes on, just like the ever-growing list of responsibilities for these tech leaders tasked with managing eCommerce experiences. The solution? Let’s jump in and explore.

Tech leaders are expected to navigate an eCommerce terrain that’s becoming increasingly complex. It’s like they’re steering through a constantly evolving digital maze, with 74% of them in roles that pull them in every conceivable direction. They’re also facing a barrage of challenges: a shortage of IT professionals, clunky legacy systems, ever-looming cybersecurity threats and ongoing post-pandemic adjustments. It’s a tightrope walk as they work to tackle it all while still delivering an exceptional buyer journey. This is why choosing the right AI-powered product discovery vendor is critical, particularly in intricate sectors like B2B. It’s a transformative move that will make a tech lead and their team’s lives easier by automating a wide range of tasks, meaning focus can be placed on providing better customer experiences and with fewer manual and technical resources. Even non-technical and non-IT professionals can make changes with the right vendor. 

But how, exactly?

AI-powered product discovery provides laser-accurate relevance in the choppy seas of product data and customer preferences. This technology goes beyond bringing order to chaos, though – it’s what customers now expect and demand, with remarkably on-point product suggestions and more. Whether you’re a CTO or IT manager, this means shifting from drowning in data to strategic planning with a clear mind. 
To get a broad look at what specific tools are on offer, we’re going to explore the standout modules you’ll find in a top-tier product discovery solution, including smart recommendations, optimized search, ranking rules, analytics and tailored customer information. We’ll also delve into selecting the ideal vendor, the nuances of integration and the role AI-powered product discovery is poised to play in the near future of eCommerce. 

Let’s start with AI-powered product recommendations

Recommendations are fueled by AI, designed to meticulously analyze clicks, shopping carts, purchases and historical combined sales data to deliver the most relevant product suggestions. It can be combined with personalization to provide an even more tailor-made customer journey. Crucial for eCommerce tech leaders, recommendations are dynamic and adapt in real-time for each customer, identify subtle product links and align with individual tastes. It’s especially useful for upselling and cross-selling, and while the AI can do most of the work automatically, businesses can also apply their own strategy, such as prioritizing higher margin alternatives or specific brands if they have a special contract with a distributor. These items can be displayed strategically across touchpoints like the homepage, product pages, pop-ups and the cart to drive conversion rates.  
And importantly for a tech lead with a keen eye on their tool budget, recommendations tend to pay for themselves within a short span of time, yielding a healthy ROI thanks to the simple delight of a customer getting more than what they bargained for, in the best way possible. 

What does this mean for me? 

  • AI recommendations enhance product relevance, increase sales and AOV, yield a strong ROI, and simultaneously reduce data management complexity for tech leaders. 
  • High-quality AI tools from trusted vendors automatically refine recommendations across product categories, eliminating the need for manual optimization and ensuring consistently relevant results. 

What does it look like in action? 
Let’s take PBS Holding Group as an example. The leading paper, office and stationery product distributor implemented FactFinder to deliver self-optimizing product recommendations on each product detail page. These recommendations are not static but evolve based on real-time analysis of individual customer behaviors, such as their clicks, items in shopping carts and overall sales data. This dynamic approach has led to a more personalized shopping experience for customers and streamlined the sales process.  
“Previously, this was solved completely differently,” explains Anja Hochmeier, Head of eBusiness, Marketing and Solutions. “I am very happy that we now have an automated solution.”  
Get the full story. 

Optimized product visibility with AI-driven search and ranking rules

A good search functionality, powered by AI, forms the backbone of delivering relevant product results. It offers error-tolerant, language-independent searches, supports long-tail queries, and swiftly handles large product databases. Importantly, it significantly reduces the occurrence of zero-result searches, ensuring users always find meaningful options. This leads to increased sales, reduced bounce rates and better customer satisfaction overall.  

Complementing search, ranking rules provide tech leads the flexibility to strategically adjust product visibility. Businesses can strategically position products, boosting some to appear prominently in search results while burying others to de-prioritize them.  

What does this mean for me? 

  • Provides the most relevant search results for any query automatically and avoids zero results. 
  • Offers flexible product ranking options to align with specific business goals and seasonal trends. 
  • Enhances product discovery for customers, leading to improved sales and higher customer satisfaction. 

What does it look like in action? 
MEVACO, specializing in metals and perforated sheets, exemplifies AI-driven ranking in action. They faced challenges with their previous search solution in their online B2B operations. By integrating a more sophisticated search and navigation engine, they enhanced search accuracy and functionality, particularly for specific product IDs crucial to their business. This resulted in 94% of search terms being successfully found, signaling that their customers were finally finding the products they were looking for – thanks to AI.  

“After a smooth integration, we’ve only had to create one ranking rule and manage the synonyms and filter configuration weekly. We leave the rest mainly to FactFinder’s AI-based algorithms.” – Christian Mertens, eCommerce Manager. Get the full story. 

Leveraging analytics for better business insights 

We strongly recommend choosing a product discovery solution that has built-in analytics – it’s a powerful and strategic growth asset for any business. Connected analytics offer data-driven insights into customer behavior and market trends, guiding long-term strategies like market expansion, product line optimization and tailored marketing campaigns. You’ll want something that: 

  • Simplifies KPI monitoring with visual graphs. 
  • Captures and analyzes individual customer session interactions. 
  • Provides insights such as session-based views and average click position. 
  • Enables customized reporting. 

Generally, an ideal analytics tool will empower tech leads to react swiftly to changing demands, utilizing an intelligent assistant to monitor data and detect peaks or unexpected events. 

What does this mean for me? 

  • Intelligent analytics offers strategic insights for business expansion and optimization. 
  • Aids in formulating long-term growth strategies based on data-driven insights. 

What does it look like in action?  
A B2B manufacturer uses analytics to strategically refine their online presence, focusing on two distinct but interconnected areas: product performance and search request patterns. For product analysis, they investigate the top 10 and bottom 10 performing products. For instance, if a product is often viewed but rarely bought, it might indicate pricing issues or a lack of customer appeal, prompting pricing adjustments or reevaluation of its market fit. On the search request front, the analysis helps pinpoint where manual optimization is needed, revealing gaps in the product assortment. This dual-focused approach provides a comprehensive view, allowing the manufacturer to fine-tune their product offerings and search functionality. 

Delivering customer-specific info seamlessly 

As a tech lead in B2B, being able to display customer-specific information is crucial for enhancing user experience. This technology can display complex pricing tiers and other essential information within search results, navigation and filters – tailored to each and every customer and your unique business agreement. It allows for real-time inventory and price changes without callbacks to third-party systems like ERP or PIM. This means simplified interactions and optimized purchasing processes for greater customer satisfaction. It also displays multiple prices per user (e.g., with and without VAT), providing transparency that business buyers crave, and allowing for personalization down to the level of departments within the same organization. 
What does this mean for me? 

  • Aligns with B2B market standards for transparent, individualized pricing. 
  • Enables displaying unique information for specific customers or customer groups. 

What does it look like in action? 
Let’s say a procurement manager at a B2B retailer logs into their company’s online platform. They are instantly met with pricing and products meticulously tailored to their company’s specific agreement and purchasing history. The platform dynamically adjusts, showcasing items relevant to their department while a colleague from a different part of the business experiences a distinct, equally personalized display. This advanced system streamlines their shopping, highlighting frequently bought or specially offered products and personalizing promotional content for each item. By eradicating manual price checks, the process becomes more efficient and responsive. 

Ensuring seamless integration of AI product discovery

This deserves its own section because of how critical it is to ensure your chosen vendor can help you integrate without a hitch. There’s no excuse for not providing a smooth and hassle-free experience. Product discovery modules are designed to be powerful yet flexible, easily fitting into different types of business setups and technical environments. This means you can upgrade your eCommerce experience without needing to overhaul your entire system. It’s about enhancing what you already have with a smart, adaptable addition. 

What does this mean for me? 

  • Choose AI tools like FactFinder that integrate seamlessly into your system, aligning with MACH principles for flexibility and modularity, enhancing your eCommerce operations without disruption. Learn more. 
  • Ensure seamless integration is something your chosen vendor can guarantee. At Factfinder, this is extremely important to our success.  

What does it look like in action?  
DENIOS, a leader in occupational environmental protection and workplace safety, undertook the integration of FactFinder’s AI-based site search into their B2B online shops. This strategic move was crucial for improving the digital shopping experience in their expansive eCommerce environment. The integration process involved customizing the solution to handle DENIOS’ extensive and diverse product range, ensuring that both new and experienced customers could efficiently navigate and find products. This step not only enhanced the search functionality but also aligned with DENIOS’ digital expansion goals, showcasing the effectiveness of integrating advanced technology in a complex B2B setting. See what Janine Schiltmeier, Content Marketing Manager at DENIOS, thinks in the full story. 

AI’s role in the future of eCommerce 

AI is the present and future of eCommerce, with predictions pointing to a 59% boost in sales from AI-driven recommendations. This isn’t just an upgrade, it’s a complete overhaul in how we approach shopping online. By tapping into AI, businesses are starting to set the trend and situate themselves as innovators, a hugely attractive prospect to both tech-savvy clients and the average shopper who benefits from experiences that feel almost tailor-made. But with the pressure mounting not only to ride this wave but to lead the charge, the time for action is now. To help you get started in selecting an ideal vendor, we’ve included some key features to look out for in the next part of the article. 

What does this mean for me? 

  • AI is central to driving sales and enhancing customer experiences. 
  • Embracing AI now is crucial to remain competitive and relevant. 
  • Now is the time to start shopping for a vendor. 

What does it look like in action? 
Seefelder, a leading wholesaler for fittings, assembly technology and tools, knew that embracing FactFinder’s AI-driven product discovery was a critical step in future-proofing their business against a digital-first tomorrow. As a result, they now receive a massive 78% of their orders online and enjoy 23x higher organic visibility. Their future plans include expanding on the topic of product recommendations now that they have access to a rich library of customer data. See what Achim Schneider, Head of Digitalization, has to say in the full story. 

Choosing the right AI product discovery provider

While the race is on and the clock is ticking to adopt an AI-driven product discovery solution, it’s not something that should be rushed into. When selecting the right provider, it’s crucial to look beyond just technological prowess. Key factors include scalability – can the solution grow with your business? Customer support – is there reliable help when you need it? Also, consider the ease of integration with your current systems and the flexibility to adapt to evolving market needs. The right vendor should offer a balanced blend of advanced technology, scalability, dedicated support and seamless integration capabilities. This combination not only ensures a long-term, fruitful partnership for your eCommerce goals but also maximizes the ROI, making it a financially sound investment. 

What does this mean for me? 

  • AI tools from reputable vendors automatically optimize the online customer journey boosting sales and conversions, while reducing the need for manual data management. 
  • Ensure the provider offers a future-proof solution, keeping your eCommerce strategy ahead of evolving trends.  

Next steps 
As a tech leader in the throes of the digital age, harnessing AI in eCommerce is your #1 strategic edge. Now is the time to pivot from being overwhelmed by data and complexity to leveraging product discovery’s power for streamlined customer-centric operations. This is the turnkey solution to unlocking stronger conversation rates, increased revenue, better online experiences and market agility. Your next move? Evaluate the market’s best AI product discovery tools for your ecosystem, focus on integration ease and finally start tapping into AI to elevate your eCommerce landscape. And perhaps most importantly, make your work life a whole lot easier.  

Need help?

FactFinder’s very own Product Discovery solution is a prime example of what we discussed in the article. It’s easy to set up and makes finding the right items incredibly simple. It’s all about enhancing the shopping experience by putting the right products just a click away.  

Want to try it for yourself, or have a few questions? Click the button below to learn more.