Rithum is a young brand in 2024. However, it is made up of a portfolio of established names in software and artificial intelligence (AI) in ecommerce. The company, which rebranded in December, was previously known as CommerceHub. The new name debuted as Rithum announced the acquisition of the AI startup Cadeera.
Aarthi Ramamurthy joined the company as chief product officer before the name change in 2023. This year, as chief product and technology officer at Rithum, she will play a leading role in bringing its offerings into their first year under the new brand. A veteran of the tech world, Ramamurthy previously held roles at companies including Facebook (pre-Meta), Netflix and Microsoft. Now, she is entrenched in online retail — and especially AI in ecommerce.
What does Rithum do?
Rithum’s offerings already included legacy brands such as ChannelAdvisor and Dsco. They encompass product listing management, marketing, sales and delivery, inventory management and more.
Among retailers in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s database of the largest North American e-retailers by online sales, 157 use Rithum for channel management. In addition, 45 retailers in the Top 1000 use Rithum’s fulfillment software. 41 use it for online advertising, and 24 use it for search engine marketing.
Ramamurthy fielded a range of questions from Digital Commerce 360 about Rithum’s future following the rebrand, as well as how it sees AI playing a role in the future of ecommerce. She corresponded via email.
Digital Commerce 360: I want to start with the recently announced changes – CommerceHub becoming Rithum, and the acquisition of Cadeera. What did Cadeera bring to the portfolio of AI capabilities in your offerings? What else have you added over the past year?
Aarthi Ramamurthy: With regard to AI and the new capabilities the technology brings to our business, the end goal is always focused on the customer and what we can help them achieve. In the age of adaptive AI and advanced chatbots, customer expectations are exponentially increasing. To succeed, retailers must become even smarter about how they onboard and sell products across multiple marketplaces, personalize offerings for consumers, and facilitate seamless delivery.
Over the past year, we’ve integrated AI into the Rithum platform to help with tasks like automatic channel mapping, including inventory compliance and error correction. For example, we can take a brand or supplier’s product data and leverage AI to automatically map it all internally and have a normalized source of truth. From our normalized schema, we can then map the data to any marketplace’s specifications at the click of a button, shortening the time to market for brands to go live on any marketplace.
With Cadeera specifically, the company’s technology provides Rithum with a multi-modal AI platform that brings together capabilities across computer vision, language processing, and machine learning, to help automate and scale manual processes like product onboarding, search, and discovery. This technology will also be used toward streamlining tasks like product content generation and image validation. Additionally, Cadeera’s capabilities will enable AI-powered supplier and product recommendations.
Focus on AI in ecommerce in 2024
DC360: What are you most proud of in terms of AI capabilities that have been developed there since you joined the company? And what are you most eager to build out as you look ahead?
Ramamurthy: We’ve made significant progress in the past year. I’m extremely proud of the new capabilities we’ve introduced, from automatic channel mapping to scaling product onboarding across marketplaces, this year was a major milestone in Rithum’s AI journey — and it’s only the beginning. We’re being pragmatic about AI’s capabilities and limitations and leveraging the technology to solve well-established customer problems focused on time to value for our sellers.
We’re very excited about what’s to come over the next few years. We have a robust strategy where we expect to leverage AI in several ways. First, we’ll continue to invest in supplier onboarding and launch experience, shortening the time to go live by leveraging Cadeera’s technology.
Second, given that Rithum is the largest commerce network on the planet, we will leverage AI to make network discovery and matching a seamless process. What this means is, we will build out systems that accurately predict what sellers (and which categories of products) a specific retailer needs to be connected to, and make the discovery and connection a straightforward process.
And finally, we will invest in solving for inventory management for retailers. Stocking the right inventory at the right fulfillment centers so that the products can reach the customer on or ahead of customer expectations is a big priority for retailers and we plan to roll out products to help with this.
What AI means for retailers
DC360: Whether it’s reducing time spent on a certain cycle or improving the quality of a certain experience (on a retailer’s backend or for a customer), what are the most tangible ways you see the AI in your technology stack having an impact for retailers?
Ramamurthy: For Rithum, AI has always gone beyond the hype. We think about AI in a very customer-centric way. Ultimately, everything we do that involves AI boils down to customer benefits, such as driving faster time to market, reducing costs, and increasing customer revenue.
Beyond channel mapping, AI within Rithum’s technology stack enables our customers to identify how quickly merchandise can be delivered based on real-time insight into matching inventory levels with customer fulfillment centers. Capabilities like this help keep product costs within the threshold that retailers want.
Additionally, AI is helping to curate the perfect product catalog for brands and retailers. This has major implications for environmental conservation. Eliminating unwanted inventory means reducing waste, which is a major issue in the fashion industry. More than just increasing profits from high-demand items, AI can be a catalyst for a healthier corporate carbon footprint.
Impact for online retail professionals
DC360: Which professional roles at retail companies do you see benefiting the most from your AI-powered features?
Ramamurthy: On the seller side, we expect the onboarding and revenue teams to see direct impact, since our AI-powered onboarding process cuts out a lot of unnecessary time spent manually onboarding sellers to marketplaces and gets sellers live and selling products faster.
On the retailer side, the merchandizing teams will reap the most benefit in the immediate term since they will have valuable insights on which sellers and which products to onboard in order to profitably grow their business.
DC360: Do you have any best examples of specific retailers using AI-enabled features in Rithum products right now that you could point to?
Ramamurthy: We are using AI when we onboard new suppliers to a retailer, which is no small feat. For example, a supplier might categorize a product’s (such as a shirt) color to be indigo, while the marketplace that the supplier onboards to might only accept the color blue. That’s an AI use case – how to transform product attributes and match them. In this case, the technology would be simple algorithmic AI at work.
There are also applications for machine learning. For example, the system might discover that in Q2, puffer jackets will be especially popular. Then it can automatically alert the retailers, figure out the supply for those items and onboard the suppliers.
Then there are large language models, made popular by ChatGPT. In this case, we are using LLMs to mine data, including data that’s poorly structured. The LLM can also distill input from customers on what they’re seeking or what feedback they’re providing.
Speeding up onboarding
DC360: When you speak about speeding up the ecommerce lifecycle, which steps or processes have you seen impacted the most by AI?
Ramamurthy: The onboarding process — specifically onboarding onto large public marketplaces as well as retailers, has traditionally been an unoptimized process, and is time consuming, leaving valuable revenue on the table. This is the area that will and already is having the most impact.
DC360: For retail and ecommerce generally, where do you think AI use will be most pervasive in the coming year?
Ramamurthy: AI will be a game-changer for ecommerce — and it is happening faster than many realize. Its two most likely impacts are first, the customer shopping experience to provide a more personalized, curated experience. Second, AI has the ability to meaningfully reduce the operating expense for retailers of all sizes by increasing speed to site for new products and reducing the manual effort required with today’s methods. We expect that these trends will combine with asset-light models like drop shipping and marketplaces to help retailers better serve their customers, more rapidly adjust selection, better personalize the ability to serve customers, all while growing sales and margins.
We continue to invest in and accelerate our capabilities in this area and look forward to significant expansion of AI across our entire platform.
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