Small businesses can have a difficult time competing with larger firms. They require significant resources for marketing, promotions and other processes that ensure increased competitiveness.
However, technology has come to the small business rescue with the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI refers to using computer systems to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence.
The tasks include decision-making, language development, prediction of sales and trends during a specified period, and personalizing the customer experience.
Kane Georgiou, financial expert, entrepreneur, and owner of The Money Pig claims “A lot of small businesses use AI without even knowing it. And that’s ok, but it definitely needs to be embraced by business owners to stay in with a chance of competing in 2020 and beyond. It’s the future”
While doubts about the role of AI and its potential implications were high during the 1950s, confidence in its use has increased through the decades.
Large companies have used it to increase their market share and emerge at the top of their respective industries. They include giants such as Google, Amazon, the all-time favorite Apple, and the less known but prominent DJI.
The good news is that small businesses can benefit from AI as well without denting their wallets. Here are six ways AI can help your small business grow and develop.
1. Online Retailing (E-commerce)
Online retailing involves selling products using online portals. Unless you have been living in the actual Amazon forest during the last three decades, you will have heard of Amazon.com, and most likely used it to shop online.
While online retailing was previously limited to big businesses, AI has increased the potential for small business growth and development through online retailing.
It’s helping small businesses manage their inventories through categorizing and tagging products with the right labels without human assistance.
Also, AI can recommend customers with products that suit their tastes and preferences by automatically tracking their shopping behavior.
Consequently, AI effortlessly provides personalized services to online consumers. It makes them feel valued as a customer by the small business, which is a basic human need.
Unsurprisingly, about 61 percent of shoppers say they prefer to shop online because of personalized shopping. Small businesses can use free time AI has created to engage in other tasks.
Small businesses could decrease the number of people it requires to carry out some tasks and that reduces payroll costs. They could divert the surplus money to other crucial business processes.
Automated Customer Communications or Chatbots allow businesses to run their service and product-based communications with consumers automatically without needing human customer care providers.
For small businesses or startups that cannot afford human operators, Chatbots are a great option. When you think you are talking to a human being on the other end of the chat, it might be a Chatbot.
Nevertheless, you will never notice and neither will the customer. AI is that good.
Most marketing occurs online in the current business environment. Effectively managing marketing budgets could require significant experience and expertise in deep internet domains, which can lead to an escalation in costs.
For small businesses, AI provides an automatic solution to managing different domains through an integrative approach.
Small businesses can use AI platforms such as Acquisio to manage their online multichannel marketing campaigns.
Channels such as Bing, Facebook and Adwords can be difficult to manage effectively without incurring additional costs.
By automating the process, small businesses can manage their multichannel budgets by using AI’s analytical abilities to determine their overall online advertising performance.
Consequently, they can allocate their money to the best-performing channels. The automated process saves costs and increases revenues.
Why use hit or miss solutions when there is a sure bet that you can reach the target market at a bargain? AI provides a level playing field for large and small businesses.
If you have the AI platform to manage your marketing campaign but an efficient marketing strategy is lacking, AI could provide an automated strategy generation option too.
Sentiment analysis algorithms can find out whether customers are engaging with your brand, thereby providing hints on how the company could develop a more effective strategy in the future.
An effective marketing strategy can reduce the cost per click (CPC) costs. Other cost reductions include lower payroll costs because of a reduced need for additional advertising and marketing staff.
AI is all about cost reduction and every small business could use some additional cash in their wallets.
3. AI-Infused Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customers are a central element of doing business. Developing an effective relationship with customers should help small businesses acquire repeat and loyal customers.
AI provides an integrated environment that can help in managing interactions with prospective and current customers.
Some of the AI functionalities include the evaluation of consumer feedback, analysis of customer reviews and social media posts and other interactions.
The insights gained from the analysis can indicate consumer sentiment, thereby helping in adjusting current marketing strategies to fit with the prevailing market environment.
The cliché “the customer is always right” does not apply to AI-infused CRM because the business can always know what he or she wants beforehand.
With AI, the business can read the customer’s mind and anticipate what they want to see in marketing strategies, products, and services. The new cliché should be “with AI, the business and the customers always agree.”
4. Managing Employees
Employees are the cogs that keep the small business wheel rolling efficiently. AI is applicable in human resource (HR) onboarding and hiring processes, and handling feedback on their efficiency.
They streamline and automate HR to ensure small businesses have the best talent that can push the organization forward.
Compared to large businesses that have an extensive list of potential employees, a large HR department and attractive offers, small businesses have to contend mostly with the breadcrumbs that fall off the corporate HR loaf.
AI can change that for small businesses, helping them identify and recruit diamonds in the ruff that most large companies ignore because of their experience requirements and stringent qualifications.
AI can automatically go through hundreds of potential applications and match the company’s criterion for the job to the employee’s stated qualifications.
AI has proven highly efficient in other areas such as marketing by removing human error.
Because HR is involved in human interactions in a competitive environment, it is the most susceptible to subjective biases, a highly pernicious human error.
AI’s objectivity removes HR subjective bias. Its deployment in HR selection and recruitment processes could ensure small businesses get the best talent while saving on costs and time.
Logistical operations require significant accuracy and precision to ensure that lags in one area of the supply chain do not lead to congestion in other areas.
Also, data such as collection and offload points can be difficult to handle without leading to errors. Logistical errors can damage relationships with consumers.
AI can relieve the logistical headache by putting the logic in logistics. Analytical algorithms in AI can logically sort out and prioritize elements in the supply chain to ensure all products are at their correct location at the right time.
With AI logistics, the only clutter small business operators have to deal with is in their homes.
There is nothing artificial about the stated six AI benefits to small businesses. They are natural consequences of increasing human efficiency using logical algorithms.
They aid in reducing cost and time spent while increasing the efficiency of business functioning. AI can allow small businesses to compete with larger businesses on a level playing field, potentially increasing innovativeness for all involved.