The new ecommerce site features use Adobe's Sensei AI technology to improve product recommendations and site search. Meanwhile, Adobe Analytics says U.S. online sales grew 32% year over year from Nov. 11 to Nov 23.

Adobe Systems Inc. is using its Sensei artificial intelligence technology to improve recommendations and search functionality for merchants using its Magento ecommerce platform.

The first new feature, called visual similarity recommendations for product recommendations, enables merchants to offer shoppers recommendations of products that look similar to what they are viewing by taking into account color, shape, size, material and more.

Adobe’s Sensei uses visual AI to recognize and process product imagery and match patterns, Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product and platform for Adobe’s Experience Business, writes in a blog post. Because the recommendations feature is visually driven, merchants do not need to collect and analyze consumer behavioral data to use it, making it faster to implement, Adobe says. The feature will be available Dec. 8.

The second feature, which will launch in the first half of 2021, is a live search feature that offers search-as-you-type results that use Sensei’s ongoing AI-driven analysis of shopper behavior to improve over time. Currently, Magento’s ecommerce platform does not offer this feature.

Site search is well-suited to work with AI technology such as Adobe’s Sensei. That’s because AI technology can quickly compare vast amounts of data to see which content leads shoppers to buy. For example, if a search for leather women’s shoes that returned flats before high heels resulted in better conversions, a retailer’s AI technology might show flats first in product page search results.

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Shoppers who use site search are highly motivated to buy, according to a recent study, which supports retailers’ investments in the feature. For example, a 2019 analysis of 40 ecommerce sites by ecommerce platform provider Workarea found that sessions in which consumers used site search were 290% more likely to end in a purchase than sessions where a shopper didn’t use the tool. Consumers also say they want a robust, working site search. For example, 65% of shoppers rated “relevant search results” among their top two most crucial product discovery and navigation features on retailer sites, according to a 2019 survey of 1,000 online shoppers by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights.

Adobe purchased the Magento ecommerce platform in June of 2018 for $1.68 billion. Magento ranks No. 1 among ecommerce platform providers to the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 with 104 Top 1000 retailers using its ecommerce platform.

Investing in ecommerce technology can pay off as more shoppers turn to the web—especially with the one-two punch of the holiday season and an intensifying pandemic keeping gift buyers at home. Adobe says U.S. shoppers spent $58.9 billion online from Nov. 11 -23, up 32% year over year. Despite a slowdown in online spending following election day, shoppers made up the gap, with the last three days growing at 49% year over year, Adobe says.

In a just-released survey of 1,000 shoppers conducted by Advantis and commissioned by Adobe, nearly 70% of shoppers say the surge in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks has prompted them to purchase more online. Additionally, 66% of consumers have already started holiday shopping, while another 20% plan to start over Black Friday weekend. And, even though consumers are aware retailers are offering deals now, 56% of them believe the best discounts will be saved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to the Advantis/Adobe survey.

Specifically, Adobe says online grocery orders have increased 560% in the last seven days (through Nov. 23) over the daily average for October. Last year, growth was 10% when comparing the same time periods. Consumers are also stocking up on essentials yet again, Adobe finds. U.S. online sales of household paper products such as toilet paper are up 365% and first aid kits are up 357% from March 2020.

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Additional findings based on Adobe Analytics data include:  

  • Curbside and in-store pickup orders have grown 115% year over year. Retailers who offer it are seeing 25% of orders fulfilled via those options compared with 15% last year. Additionally, merchants offering these alternative delivery methods are experiencing 32% higher conversion rates.
  • No smartphone slowdowns: U.S. consumers spent $22.8 billion on smartphones from Nov. 1-23, up 49% from the same period last year and amounting to 39% of total web sales for the period.
  • Large retailers with more than $1 billion in annual revenue have seen the biggest gains from the early Cyber Week start, with an over 136% boost in online revenue over the last three days when compared with average sales in October. However, small- and medium-sized retailers also saw a healthy bump, with a 117% increase in sales over the same period.
  •  Adobe forecasts U.S. online sales in November and December will grow 33% year over year to reach $189 billion. It also predicts web sales on Thanksgiving will grow 42.3% year over year to reach $6 billion, Black Friday online sales to grow 39.2% reaching $10.3 billion and Cyber Monday web purchases to rise 35.3%, reaching $12.7 billion.

Adobe Analytics analyzes one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites across 50 merchandise categories, 100 million SKUs and 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S., according to the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 for its findings.

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