How Machine Learning Changed the History of Ecommerce
Throughout the history of ecommerce, machine learning has helped online retailers often know what their customers want before they want it. In fact, one article estimated that 35% of the revenue of one of the world’s largest ecommerce platforms came from their product recommendations.1 That’s a staggering statistic when you consider that these were purchases that people made, without intentionally setting out to! It’s the digital equivalent to making that “impulse buy” when you’re checking out at your local grocery store, except on a much larger scale.
The reason behind shoppers’ willingness to buy recommended products is personalization. By using machine learning to analyze the buying patterns of millions of users, common themes tend to show up that group people who often buy the same products. This computation is the heavy lifting, which culminates in a product recommendation listed as “People Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” or something similar.
A Journey Through the History of Ecommerce
In this way, machine learning has automated the item discovery process, where the best-fit item for a person is presented to them, instead of them having to go search for it. But, it hasn’t always been this easy to shop online. There was a time when an online shopper could only find the right item by manually clicking, scrolling, and filtering through catalogs of products. Consider the differences between a person shopping online in 2018 versus 1998:
In this post, we’ve created a timeline of milestones where machine learning shaped the history of ecommerce. Have you noticed any of these features in your online shopping? If so, comment below!
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- Amazon’s Recommendation Engine: The Secret to Selling More Online.
- Boston Computer Exchange.
- The early history of Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
- Our History.
- Collaborative recommendations using item-to-item similarity mappings.
- Alibaba Group.
- Google Launches Self-Service Advertising Program.
- Google: ad revenue 2001-2017.
- The History of Facebook Advertising [SlideShare].
- Netflix Prize: Forum / Grand Prize Awarded to Team BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos.
- Say “Hello” to eBay ShopBot Beta.
- eBay launches visual search tools that let you shop using photos from your phone or web.
- Cyber Monday sales of $7.9 billion top record online sales estimate.
- Alibaba Singles Day 2018: Record sales on largest shopping event day.
- How Machine Learning Will Shape the Industry by 2020.