How generative AI is revolutionizing eCommerce

The impact of AI on commerce: A conversation with Kelly Goetsch and Dirk Hoerig

Diya Bag
Senior Content Writer, commercetools
Published 06 September 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

In a recent episode of the CommerceTomorrow podcast, Kelly Goetsch, CSO at commercetools and Dirk Hoerig, CEO and Co-Founder at commercetools, delved into the captivating world of artificial intelligence, shedding light on its unique significance today compared to previous iterations. In this blog post, we summarize their most important discussion points and insights. 

How generative AI is revolutionizing eCommerce

Discovering generative AI

Kelly, who has been at the forefront of embracing AI technologies at commercetools, candidly began the discussion by admitting he didn’t initially buy into the  generative AI hype. "I have to admit, Dirk, when I first heard about generative AI, I was skeptical," confessed Kelly. "But once I started experimenting with models like GPT-3 and GPT-4, I was completely captivated. It's like nothing we've seen before."

One of the central themes of Kelly and Dirk's discussion revolved around generative AI, particularly the incredible capabilities of ChatGPT models GPT-3 and GPT-4. Kelly recounted how his initial skepticism soon gave way to fascination as he went deeper into the world of generative AI. He reflected on his personal journey, describing how he lost hours experimenting with AI models and also introduced AI to his family. 

Differentiating AI terms

To ensure clarity and provide a solid foundation for their discussion, Kelly and Dirk took the time to delve into the nuanced terminology surrounding AI. In today's tech landscape, the term "AI" often gets used interchangeably with related concepts like machine learning and predictive analytics; Kelly and Dirk agreed it's important  to emphasize the distinctions between these terms.

Machine learning, for instance, is a subset of AI that involves training algorithms to recognize patterns and make predictions based on data. It's a valuable tool for tasks like image recognition and natural language processing but typically operates within the confines of existing data.

Predictive analytics, on the other hand, involves using historical data to forecast future trends or outcomes. It's widely employed in various industries, including finance and marketing, to make informed decisions and optimize strategies.

Generative AI stands apart due to its ability to do more than merely analyze data as many other AI models do; it creates something entirely new. It possesses the remarkable capability to generate entirely original content, ideas and solutions. It's not limited to making predictions or decisions based on historical data — it can produce novel and creative outputs, which is a breakthrough aspect of this technology. Dirk confirmed, "This has massive implications for commerce."

The power of GPT-4

As the conversation unfolded, the spotlight shifted to GPT-4, a remarkable AI model boasting a staggering 1.8 trillion parameters. Kelly was eager to share some intriguing real-world tests conducted by Microsoft researchers with GPT-4.

These tests demonstrated the AI model's ability to handle complex tasks, such as stacking objects in a stable manner and even understanding obscure programming languages. Yet, the sheer intelligence of GPT-4 goes far beyond previous AI iterations. "GPT-4's capabilities are mind-blowing," Kelly pointed out. "It can perform tasks that were previously thought to be out of reach for AI. This opens up endless possibilities."

AI adoption and the hype cycle

The conversation transitioned to the current state of AI adoption and its position in the hype cycle. Despite the buzz surrounding AI, along with the fact that companies worldwide are investing heavily in it, Kelly and Dirk agreed that we’re still in the early stages of harnessing its full potential, and its true impact is yet to be fully realized.

Kelly shared an insightful quote from Roy Amara: "We overestimate the impact of technology in the short term and underestimate the effect in the long run." According to Kelly, this quote encapsulates the essence of AI's trajectory.

"We're at the cusp of something big with AI," Dirk added, "but we must remember that it's a journey. The real transformative power will reveal itself over time."

AI at commercetools

The discussion naturally shifted toward the company of Kelly and Dirk, commercetools, and how AI is integrated into their operations. At commercetools, AI serves as a valuable tool that enhances productivity across various departments.

From simplifying writing tasks to analyzing data, different teams are harnessing its capabilities to streamline processes and empower employees to deliver better results. For example, the content team uses AI to improve SEO, the sales department leverages it to suggest subject lines for emails and the product marketing team turns to it to summarize reports. "AI isn't just a buzzword for us," Kelly stated emphatically. "It's a practical tool that empowers our team to work more efficiently."

AI-powered product enhancements

Kelly and Dirk further shed light on how AI is intricately woven into commercetools solutions. They discussed a range of product enhancements powered by AI, such as the auto-generation of product data, real-time documentation through Stripe docs and the potential for customers to expose their data through clean APIs.

These innovations simplify processes and accelerate the implementation of commercetools for customers. "Our products are evolving with AI at their core," Dirk affirmed. "It's about making things easier for our customers and helping them succeed in an increasingly competitive landscape."

The future of AI in commerce

In looking ahead, the conversation dove into how AI will impact hiring at commercetools. While AI is expected to streamline many tasks, Kelly and Dirk expressed how it will also create new roles that require a blend of AI knowledge and domain expertise. They both concurred that AI will serve as a ubiquitous tool, enhancing human capabilities rather than replacing them.

"AI will be a companion to human expertise," Kelly predicted, "not a replacement. It's about augmenting our abilities and taking commerce to new heights."

The broader impact on the industry

Finally, Kelly and Dirk explored how AI will impact the broader commerce industry. They predicted that companies excelling in their niche that also leverage AI's ability to simplify integrations will thrive. Clean APIs will be pivotal in effectively interacting with AI, and Kelly and Dirk acknowledged that, as a result, composable commerce will become more accessible, ultimately benefiting both businesses and customers. 

"The future of commerce is incredibly exciting," Dirk concluded. "AI is the catalyst that will enable businesses to innovate and meet customer demands like never before."

Unleashing generative AI's potential

As AI continues to evolve and permeate various industries, its role in commerce promises to enhance productivity, streamline processes and offer innovative solutions to complex challenges. Both Kelly and Dirk are adamant that the future of commerce is undeniably intertwined with the transformative power of AI. In essence, AI isn't just shaping the  direction commerce is headed — it's redefining the very landscape of possibilities for businesses, catalyzing innovation and paving the way for a digital era where the extraordinary becomes the new norm.

Listen to the full podcast here: Dirk & Kelly Discuss the Intersection of AI + Commerce.

Diya Bag
Senior Content Writer, commercetools

Diya Bag is a Senior Content Writer at commercetools. Previously, she has worked as a Copywriter in advertising for a wide range of brands, as well as an Editorial Manager in publishing for magazines and both fiction and nonfiction books.

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