Bold Brain: AI and machine learning for eCommerce

March 21, 2018

blog_bold-brain-machine-learning

Bold Brain is many different things to many different merchants. This is both great, and troublesome. It’s great because it's so functional and versatile for different business types. It’s troublesome because we hear from a lot of confused customers about what Brain is actually supposed to do.

When surveying and chatting with our customers we’ve found a recurring theme: merchants are installing Brain to make more sales. This makes sense because a lot of our marketing material and even our app store description says that Brain is intended to do just that.

But what we find that's missing from the conversation is the Merchant’s expectations of HOW it’s going to increase sales. So that’s something we want to address now.

At its core, Brain uses the power of machine learning and applies it to automatically make suggestions on how you can offer your products, which, based on the data input, should result in greater cart value and higher conversions. But it doesn’t just magically produce more sales.

One of the greatest misconceptions and resulting frustration with Brain from some of its users is that it isn’t producing any suggestions immediately when it’s installed. Here’s why that is.

Brain for new merchants

First, Brain takes a bit of time to digest all the information it’s being fed. When you install Bold Brain, you are essentially allowing it to look at your store’s historical data, make some sense of it, and then make merchandising recommendations based on that data. This takes time. And depending on how long your store has been operating, how many sales you’ve made, and how many customers you have, it could take anywhere from minutes to hours.

Second, if you’re just starting out with your store, or you haven’t made a ton of sales, Brain doesn’t have a lot of data to learn from, and it can’t be confident in making recommendations because it simply doesn’t know enough about your store trends, and your customer shopping habits.

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 3.34.04 PM

 

But here’s the good news. We’re changing up our Brain algorithms to be able to provide reliable recommendations for stores that don’t yet have enough data from which to base any future predictions.

We can’t tell you the secret, but we can tell you that this is something that makes Brain immediately valuable to Merchants just getting their stores off the ground. We believe that these adjustments will be helpful in generating those early sales so that our machine learning engine can take over and continually refine the predictions we make and tailor them to your unique customers.

New stuff coming

If you're a current Brain user, or have been thinking about it recently but were unsure about where the value lies, here's a brief list of some of the new customer facing improvements and new features you can get ready for:

Product recommendations widget 

Improving the product recommendations widget is one way we can immediately provide value to new Merchants and help get those early sales. Along with our recommendations for “Most Popular Products” and “People Also Bought” widgets (which rely on data input and analysis), we’re adding a few more widget types:

 

Recomendations Widgets Create Step 1 - Widget Type

 

  • Similar Items Widgets show products that might be more what your customer is looking for such as products in the same category, type, or from the same vendor.
  • Recently Viewed Products provides a quick link back to products that the customer has viewed and is already interested in.
  • Recently Added Products show new items available in your store that the customer might not yet know about.

**Scheduled to be available early in the spring of 2018.

 

Cost of goods sold (COGS)

If you’re an eCommerce merchant actively using Brain on your store, you may have noticed a few changes recently.

Our key focus right now is showing merchant’s the value that they’re actually getting from Brain. For example, the dashboard now shows information about your top performing recommendations such as the Upsells, Bundles, and Recommendations Widgets that you’ve enabled from Brain.

If you’ve taken a few moments to input your product costs, you’ll now be able to see not just the sales and revenue that you’ve made, but the actual profits that are coming in.

Adding your Cost of Goods (COGS) is important because it let’s Brain make decisions not just on making a sale, but on optimizing your selling recommendations for profitability.

 

Profit & Margins - Products Edit Cost

 

For example, you might be more profitable selling fewer of a higher margin item, than you are by promoting your current high-volume/low-margin top sellers.

To make this easy we’re planning to a COGS feature that will sync product cost information with Bold’s Quickbooks Online App.

**Planned for release late in the Spring of 2018.

 

Customers and personalization

Another major release coming this spring will be a customer segmentation tool which allows you to provide a truly personalized experience for your shoppers.

Instead of just showing product recommendations for your most popular products, the widget will become smarter and show most popular products that are specific to that customer’s preferences at that time.

If you have a shopper that often returns to buy new shoes, it makes sense to show the newest or most popular shoes that are available, not the most popular shirts, hats and jeans.

As we continue to build out ways to customize the content on your site for your customer preferences, Brain will be able to generate more ideas for creating a completely personalized shopping experience for each customer who visits your store.

Shoppers in a certain geographic region might see featured products that are specific to their location. Some shoppers might be directed right to a collection page that they’re more likely to be interested in.

**Planned for release in the Spring of 2018


Dynamic pricing

Along with smart product recommendations and personalized shopping, dynamic pricing is a key element that allows Brain to deliver the best ideas about how to sell products on your store, and then execute them.

It’s one thing to tell you that you should run a sale on a certain item for a certain customer. It’s a whole different thing to be able to execute that sale automatically without having to go to your store admin to do it.

With Brain Dynamic Pricing that is driven through an integration with Bold’s Discount App, you’ll be able to show a product at a discount to a customer who has previously viewed it recently but failed to purchase, or simply changed the price based on what Brain thinks will be the optimal selling price for that customer.

**Scheduled for release in the Spring of 2018

 

Optimized store management 

Now that you’ve seen into the future of Brain core features, what does it look like when all of these components are working together seamlessly without any intervention?

That’s where Brain’s Artificial Intelligence comes into the picture. Up to this point we’ve been using Machine Learning to make smart recommendations on your merchandising decisions. But with Brain AI, we can begin to optimize your store and take the management out of your hands.

Imagine simply setting rules that you want to increase average cart value on your store; Or optimizing to blow out old stock; Or simply increasing overall sales but maintaining a specific profit margin.

What if Brain could tell you the best times to do each of these things?

What would that be worth for your store?

 

More integrations with Bold apps

By now you may have noticed something about Brain: part of the app analyzes data and comes up with ideas for how to make sales on your store. But it mostly relies on other Bold Apps to execute on those ideas.

We are planning more integrations with our apps to continue adding value to their features and help make sales on your stores. This is why Brain still remains a free app.

If you have ideas for integrations you’d like to see with other Bold Apps, or any additional services, and features don’t hesitate to reach out to our amazing support team, or leave feedback directly in the Brain app.

Take this quick 3 minute survey to contribute your ideas to the Bold Brain roadmap and let us know what's most important to you for optimizing your store.

Help shape the future of eCommerce

Scott Riddell

Written by Scott Riddell

Scott is a chin-scratching gentleman who has a wealth of eCommerce experience. He works as a product manager at Bold, envisioning and shaping new apps that empower entrepreneurs to sell more.

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