Market leaders such as Amazon, eBay and Netflix are using artificial intelligence (AI) to take their customer experience to a whole new level. Meanwhile, many small-business owners still believe their web sites’ live chat will be enough to serve potential buyers.

AI has changed online commerce by enabling brands to make sense of their data and put it to good use with smarter algorithms. In this age of conversational commerce, artificial intelligence is critical to providing a personalized experience. Businesses without an AI strategy are almost certain to perish. According to Forrester, insights-driven businesses will “steal” $1.2 trillion per year from their “less-informed peers.” Related: Why Small Business Should Be Paying Attention to Artificial Intelligence Until a few months back, only bigger companies could afford the sizable investments required to implement AI.

That’s no longer the case. AI is becoming more accessible to businesses of all sizes. In the next few years, AI will continue to expand its reach throughout organizations. Early adopters already are reaping the benefits.

If you’re not one of them, now is the time to start.  Here are four reasons you (and every small-business owner) should incorporate AI-enabled technology in your sales and customer-service strategies. Virtual assistants, smart mirrors, visual search, chatbots — no matter the size of your business, AI is the future. Some experts predict that by 2020, 85 percent of customer interactions will be handled without a human. It won’t happen overnight, though, even if at times the technology seems to advance that quickly.  A recent Forrester survey revealed 58 percent of businesses have considered AI technologies, but 12 percent actually put AI into practice. In that gap lies a huge untapped opportunity.

Businesses that adopt AI technologies wil vault ahead of their competitors. The takeaway: AI-driven personalization is the future. Read more from…

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