With the help of ChatGPT and other conversational AI services, including Google’s Bard, the hype around generative AI has soared over the past few months, with industry experts quick to point to its fast-paced adoption and its potential to significantly revolutionise the retail industry.
From generating product descriptions and dynamic pricing to improving data quality and automating redundant tasks, AI has been monikered as the silver bullet technology that promises to slash time-to-market, quadruple employee productivity and deliver larger-than-life and compelling customer experiences that supercharge sales. And while these claims may technically be possible, there’s an implicit caveat and significant prerequisite that AI bandwagoners often gloss over: your product information needs to be optimised and up-to-date before you can start to take full advantage of generative AI (Gen-AI). In short, your Gen-AI capabilities will only ever be as good as your product record.
Magically generating product descriptions in an ecommerce site or marketplace without centralised, complete, and accurate product attributes will only lead to failed product experiences, poor customer touchpoints, and ultimately a damaged brand image.
When it comes to training language models and leveraging AI algorithms, scattered and incomplete information poses significant challenges as AI technology is only as effective as the data it receives. That is why Akeno took the strategic decision to acquire Unifai, the market-leading AI platform for data collection, cleansing, categorisation, and enrichment pioneered by the industry’s leading experts in AI and machine learning (ML).
This acquisition will revolutionise Akeneo’s Product Cloud offering, infusing intelligence and cutting-edge technology to further elevate product experiences for brands, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors globally.
Despite the frenetic hype surrounding AI, Akeneo has taken a pragmatic approach to working with customers on how best to leverage AI for PX by providing direct access to more than 20 AI apps available on its App Store. These apps focus on three steps in the process of activating product experiences:
1. Product data collection and cleansing – companies still struggle with collecting, categorising, cleansing, and completing core product data; these AI apps apply deep learning to automate this process.
2. Product information enrichment – companies that are leveraging a PIM to centralise complete, accurate, and properly categorised product data are in a good position to leverage Gen-AI apps to help them generate romance copy and formatted product descriptions.
3. Product content translation – once companies have enriched product descriptions in their PIM, they are now able to leverage apps in this AI category to translate and localise their content for additional market reach.
Unifai stands out as the most adopted of all the Akeneo AI for PX apps, reflecting the immense value it brings to the first and most critical phase of product information activation. Unifai solves three core challenges in the product data collection and cleansing step:
1. Supplier data onboarding – cleansing, normalising, and enriching supplier files into PIM systems (like Akeneo) in order to increase productivity, speed time-to-market and increase product searchability.
2. Supplier pricing integration – turning supplier pricing files into PX-ready data feeds through a uniform and centralised workflow feeding simultaneously ERP and PIM software, thus increasing productivity and reducing errors.
3. Marketplace seller onboarding – cleansing and enriching supplier data into marketplace back-office systems, which helps marketplaces with their seller data onboarding, reduces manual errors, and accelerates time-to-market.
Unifai has already made a significant impact in the industry. Joint customers like Rexel, a B2B distributor, achieved an 80% reduction in manual efforts and a 3x time-to-market acceleration. While sporting goods retailer, Intersport, drove a 50%-time reduction in product data processing. By integrating Unifai’s AI/ML capabilities alongside Akeneo’s supplier data onboarding solution, a typical customer can expect to achieve 50%-time savings with 98% accuracy in data onboarding processes.
To further help businesses protect their brands from AI stumbling blocks, Akeneo will also be leveraging this acquisition to create the first-ever AI for PX Centre of Excellence. This initiative will openly share with PX professionals the best practices for applying AI to PX, the pitfalls and the latest innovations to ensure the creation of convenient, tailored experiences that drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately, revenue growth.
Contributor: By Kristin Naragon, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Akeneo.