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Machines have evolved from mindless pulleys on production lines, opening up the labour market, to chess champions and the villains of futuristic fantasies. Artificial intelligence is the source of many a pessimistic prediction but what exactly does it mean for the future of human jobs? Let’s take a look at what it actually spells for the future, and in particular, see what it means for the world of e-commerce.

Let’s start with the basics: What is machine learning?

Machine learning is NOT artificially intelligent robots from the movie-screen becoming self-aware and plotting to take over the human race. In fact, machine learning is not any dystopian sci-fi movie idea at all.

Machine learning is actually much more prevalent in your daily life, it just isn’t dressed up in a typical robot uniform. As one of the many facets of A.I., it is about getting machines to learn from experience, in a similar way to humans, to improve their function over time. This means that we can use it for any of the following:

  • Product Recommendation
    Automatically correlate consumer trends to recommend similar or additional products to customers.
  • E-mail Auto-responses
    Save yourself time by creating order confirmation e-mails or customer service receipts to let your customers know that you have heard them.
  • Auto-correction/prediction
    Spelling mistakes don’t have to mean the loss of a sale - correcting common spelling mistakes, or using a live search allows you to showcase more of your catalogue.

So, why is machine learning important for e-commerce?

We already know from the examples above that these functions can be used to improve the world of e-commerce (examples also span across fields of medical diagnosis and traffic mapping, but that isn’t our concern). Whilst it’s true that these functions can, to an extent, be carried out manually, it takes up a lot of precious time that can be spent elsewhere.

The evolution of machine learning in e-commerce is rapid and means that it can trawl through huge amounts of data in small amounts of time. This means finding common spelling errors or click-history trends that may otherwise be easily overlooked. It also means making smart recommendations to your e-commerce customers without bombarding them with unnecessary links. So, machine learning can actually help by easing your workload and increasing your returns, all while continuously improving its functions in real-time.

Ok, but why is machine learning NOT a threat to my job?

It’s easy to see the phrase “easing your workload” and think that it’s a euphemism for robots easing you out of your job. However, by collaborating with machines, humans do not have to become redundant. Letting machines carry out the tedious and repetitive tasks that can absorb a whole days worth of work, allows you to focus on building your business in other ways.

This isn’t just sweet talk, since there are only so many hands on deck when growing your e-commerce business, or indeed at any phase, by incorporating machine learning you can begin to focus on what really matters. So, will robots take my job? No, in fact they may actually free up my time from mundane tasks, and I can only see that as an advantage.

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