Publication: IOL Business
Date: 2023-06-02
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The worldwide artificial intelligence (AI) industry is predicted to exceed $300 billion by 2026 and commerce and finance are expected to be the two key industries driving development.

Because technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, small and medium-sized shops should consider how they might leverage AI and automation to stay ahead of the competition.

This is according to fintech company Capital Connect's chief executive, Steven Heilbron.

He noted that, owing to platforms like ChatGPT, AI technologies are becoming more accessible to even tiny businesses, offering the opportunity for nimble firms to boost productivity and efficiency in their enterprises.

AI refers to computer systems that mimic the human brain's problem-solving and decision-making skills.

It comprises technology that mimics the human ability to decode and categorise visuals, comprehend written and spoken language, and find patterns to develop predictive models and forecast conduct.

“AI is no longer only for corporates and big tech companies that can afford to employ massive teams of cloud engineers and data scientists.

‘’We have seen the barriers to entry crumble, with the tools becoming much more user-friendly and affordable. This creates opportunities for small and medium-sized retailers to innovate at high speed – enabling them to create better customer experiences and reduce costs,’’ said Heilbron.

In our daily lives, we already engage with AI systems through virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa, recommendation engines on sites like Netflix, and the complex algorithms that ride-hailing companies such as Uber use to calculate routes.

However, although using AI in a business used to require deep technical knowledge, months of work, and substantial experience, the technology is becoming more accessible to everyone.

Here are some of the ways small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can consider using AI, according to Heilbron:

Personalised recommendations

Retailers can use AI-powered recommendation engines to personalise product recommendations for e-commerce customers based on their purchase history and browsing behaviour.

Targeted advertising

An application of AI already common in SMBs is the use of machine-learning algorithms on platforms such as Google and Facebook. These algorithms automate the purchase and placement of adverts and help advertisers to target the right audience with the right message.

Creating marketing content

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can help retailers create engaging social media posts and other marketing content (including text, images, and video) faster.


AI-powered chatbots on e-commerce sites and social media platforms can help SMB retailers to provide customer support around the clock. Chatbots can answer common customer queries, provide product recommendations, and even handle basic transactions.

Inventory management

Predictive analytics and forecasting algorithms can help retailers to better understand demand patterns and adjust their inventory accordingly.

Pricing optimisation

AI can help SMB retailers to optimise their pricing strategies by analysing data on customer behaviour, competitor prices and market trends.

Customer sentiment analysis

Retailers can use AI-powered sentiment analysis tools to monitor social media and review sites for customer feedback.