In this podcast episode, we explore strategies for optimizing conversions and boosting revenue through the use of an personalized, AI-powered conversational shopping assistant. Our featured guests are the co-founders of uprate.ai, Priya Samant, and Thomas Arul.
On the Show Today You'll Learn:
- How to enhance e-commerce customer experience with AI.
- Distinguishing features of dynamic chatbots and their advantages over traditional systems.
- Effective implementation of AI sales assistants across various industries.
- Understanding customer behavior and preferences with AI.
- How AI sales assistants influence conversion rates.
- Adapting to the rise of mobile shoppers in e-commerce.
- Exploring successful use cases of AI sales assistants in different e-commerce niches.
- How can merchants leverage AI during the holiday season to boost sales.
About Our Podcast Guest: Thomas Arul and Priya Samant
Thomas Arul, Chairman & Co-Founder: Entrepreneur, investor, AI, and Blockchain advocate. Former Managing Partner/Co-Founder of Expicient Inc. Acquired by Publicis Groupe in 2015. Board Member/Lead Investor at Nextuple.com, Tie Angels. Managing Partner/Co-Founder at Boston Catalyst Partners (BCP). Board Member for Tie Boston.
Priya Samant, CEO & Co-Founder: Tech entrepreneur, AI expert. Strategic advisor fostering India-US relations. Director of the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly at the UN. Passionate advocate of AI-powered resolutions. Impact Advisor for Cause and Culture-based Bollywood movies. TiE Boston charter member.
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Claus Lauter: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the e commerce coffee break podcast. Today, we want to find out how a sales assistant can help you when it is based with AI and how it can increase your conversion rates. Now that's a big topic because AI has become a very big part of every person's strategy.
And there is a tool that really can help you. And I had a look at it and it's really impressive.So with me, I have the founders of uprate.ai, Thomas Arul and Priya Samant. They are experienced tech entrepreneurs with a deep expertise in AI and have developed uprate.ai, a AI driven sales assistant. This tool not only facilitates the conversation of website visitors into active buyers, but also maximize product additions to the shopping cart.
And that's what every version wants. So let's welcome them to the show. Hi,
Thomas Arul: how are you today?
Priya Samant: We are doing well. Thank you so much for
Thomas Arul: us. Thank you for having us.
Claus Lauter: Give me an overview. Why a AI sales assistant makes such a big difference in the customer
Thomas Arul: experience.
Priya Samant: many years ago.
I was an entrepreneur myself in this space. And while my products were selling, through a one of a very big, national retailer, I also had, a presence on Shopify. What I envision what my challenges at that time where when I was talking about my brand, when I was showcasing the story of my product, the sales were very high, but that was not the same experience when, on the store.
So fast forward with the evolution of AI and with the tools that are available right now, what we felt is, and because Thomas and our other executive team also comes from the retail tech background. We thought that Through having the AI sales assistant. If you're a hustler in the Shopify ecosystem and just starting out or you're a small business, a medium business to enterprise.
If they have this assistance, then, the knowing about their brand to a larger audience and different territories around the world. As well as, elevation of their shopping cart would happen, as well as the customers would get a tailor experience. So it's a dual balance between augmenting the revenue through elevation of shopping cart and giving the tailor experience to the customers.
Thomas Arul: So from my background, and I've been an entrepreneur for almost 20 plus years, I've worked with a lot of retail and startup. We built actually the first mobile app for Staples, BJ's, this is like 2010. So with AI coming in, we saw the real power of how it can help retailers, especially the merchants. And Shopify is one platform where there's millions of customers.
We want to see how we can leverage the power of AI. And for a merchant to get into AI is very hard. So we want to be the conduit of that. How do they can get a personal sales assistant? Not only, the best thing about the sales assistant is it's very easy to install. It takes less than five minutes.
They can just go to the app store, click on install and what the AI assistant does it and they can train what the name of the ASL again, I want to call it Lisa and they want to call it as a personal shopper. We have one using it for pet grooming. We have one for selling candles. We have one for selling wines.
One is sommelier. One is a bartender, whatever character you can give to that. And also give a backstory for that and click install within few minutes. It learn all the products, some of the customers have 6, 000 products. It learns all the products. It learns all the pages in Shopify and it's ready to work within less than five minutes.
And the most important thing is that as a merchant. I'm always wary of installing something and, how it behaves, because AI sometimes hallucinates and stuff, but we have trained our models to only talk about your product, your company based on your information. And you can also set what to talk, what not to talk.
What are the different prompts you can give? Hey, if it's, someone is selling wines, they can say, best car, best wine. Someone is selling, candles, these are my favorite candles, top sellers. Someone is selling clothes. They can specify what prompts to give. And most importantly, they can preview how the AI response.
In Shopify app store before they even deploy it. I install it. It learns the product, learns all the pages and hey, you want to test it. You want all the employees to test it before you want to make it live to see all your customers. You can just chat, preview the chat, talk to it, ask any questions.
And if you don't like some of the questions and answers, you can always train the model. So that is what we have.
Priya Samant: Yeah, and just adding to what Thomas said is, I would love to give us just a very recent story of one of our customers. He was sharing. So we were there at the event. And he was so proud of the AI sales assistant because he was showing it to other folks.
They're saying that. This is the assistant and I'm happy to share because they have beautiful candles that they share, Kavala Studios, they are a Metro North Boston based company and they made this beautiful candles and they have their AI sales assistant that is helping them talk about, their brand and also helping them with the sales.
Thomas Arul: I
Claus Lauter: want to dive a little bit more into characters. I think that's a really good point. You mentioned you have a sommelier, you have a bartender, and I went to your website and checked it out. And it's really impressive. I really like it. Tell me, how do you facilitate different characters towards different stores, different brands?
What's the best way to, to approach this?
Thomas Arul: Absolutely. So I think one of the thing is that we want to give the flexibility to the merchant. So we have these. Pretend pre trained characters, the sommelier or bartender, but if a merchant is doing something, which is different, they don't have the character, they can create their own character, with the new version.
They can upload their pictures in some of the, one of the, some of the, we had given pre trained characters, but a lot of our customers say, Hey, you know what? I want to upload me as an avatar because I'm the sales in the face of the company. And they can upload that. They can give a backstory to them and give a backstory to their products.
And also our product learns from their Shopify pages. There could be two types of pages. One is a public pages. What people can come and see about contact, the returns, company information also. If there could be hidden pages that you want the AI to understand. Hey, this is other, company, something like you want to talk about a specific product.
One camera company is working with us. They have, 5, 000 reviews of all the cameras, the customer. So they want to put those hidden pages such a way that our AI can understand that and talk about it. So the characters are pre trained. Right now, what you see is the picture version of it.
We have a. GIF version of it shaking and we also we have plans to have a video version of it in the near future.
Claus Lauter: Yeah. Mentioned in the beginning, when you were talking in person to customers, you could explain much better and you had much higher conversion rates. Now with having a AI sales assistant, do you have some numbers to that show in regards to conversion rate or on time on site, how does that impact the user
Thomas Arul: behavior?
Yes. So we
Priya Samant: actually have analytics that actually tell that how many products got added to the cart and all that stuff, like how many chats were, driven. Our, AI sales assistant. So all those analytics are actually available in the admin page. It's such an easy navigation.
So even if you're not very, technically savvy person, anybody that manages your admin will be very, very easily able to navigate and actually learn those numbers. And then tweak the characters to make sure that, they actually talk the language that the brand wants to share with the public.
So one thing,
Thomas Arul: yeah, just to add the statistics shows that Shopify, 1 percent conversion rate that we want to increase that at least by a hundred percent to give it to. Two to five or three percent. So that's what we are striving for. And a couple of things, what happens in the real world is that sometimes when you do a search for a product, you make a spelling mistake, you don't get the product also sometimes, there's specialized things you want to do, like, and, Hey, I want a red with black stripes, a lot of the products can't do it.
And we just the beginning, we have features where you can just pay. I saw this picture of someone wearing this specific desk. Can I have this dress? They can upload the image. And using AI, we can search for that image in the catalog. So a lot of the new features are coming. One thing is that there's really two types of company in my mind.
One companies that are going to use AI and succeed, or other companies are going to watch other companies using AI succeed and they go down. So AI is changing so rapidly. It's so exciting because we want to have a specific area called the sales assistant. There's a lot of chatbots. Which are much more customer support driven, but we want to get into AI chatbot.
So one of the challenges we saw is early when we started, having a chat, just a bot, to talk, people are hesitant to click on it because they were thinking that, Hey, you know what, it's a customer support. So based on a lot of feedback, we are making them interactive. They come, the avatars come live, they talk to you, then they go back.
And if you want to interact, instead of just being a chatbot, we. want to give the face of the avatars as. Placeholder in all the Shopify merchants so they can click on it and talk to it. Theta can be an AI picture, it could be their brand, it could be themselves. Most of these Shopify customers, entrepreneurs were like an a I wanna create a brand.
And they're the face of a company they like. What we wanna do is if you walk into a store, you get an experience, they greet you, they ask you how you are, and they talk. Complete, they know the product in and out. What is that? What is not in stock, the product details, that same experience. We want to give it online in Shopify.
And this wouldn't have been possible six months back or last year. And with all the improvements in AI, we see that there's a huge potential for this, and this is happening as we speak. And it's much faster.
Claus Lauter: No, I definitely see the advantages there everyone had a disappointing experience with a static chatbots.
These chatbots are around for a very long time, but as I said, Thomas, they only can do certain things. And if you have a typo in there, they won't understand you. And with a personal assistant, if you walk in a store if you're very unspecific, they still will understand what you're looking for, or they might get an idea and come back with The right recommendation there.
Talk me a little bit into the setup. You said I can even have my own face, which I hopefully no one will do, but my own face as an avatar, how does
Thomas Arul: that work? It's very simple. All you have to do is, go to, our Shopify app store, install our app. Which is uprate. ai, and once it'll ask you to, it'll start looking and learning all your products.
So you might have 500 products, a thousand products, it learns the products, it learns about your pages of the company. Then there's a place to set up a couple of things. One is that you can set up. The avatar, we can choose whatever we have, or you can say, put your picture or your avatar and we automatically convert them into a GIF to be more interactive.
Then second one is that you can give a name for your avatar. You could call Lisa or whatever name you can create a name for the avatar. Give a background story for the avatar. The background could be the company CEO or whatever information and talk about the brand and also upload information that you want to talk to customers.
As well as set up those prompts, the first prompts, Hey, some of the customers said best sellers, top sellers, or if someone is selling wine or alcoholic and Hey, this is the best scotch or scotch from France or French wine, all this stuff can be prompted. And also what we're realizing is that.
AI is very smart and prompting again. The secondary prompts could be based on the conversation that is happening. So one of the things is that when you come and start talking, like I can introduce myself as Thomas and I have some questions. We make sure that the AI knows what you're talking and continues the conversation.
Early chatbots, you talk, you lose the conversation. Here, say, example, I have a party, and I want to order, wine and spirits for my party, which is like, what do you recommend? My budget is 3, 000. So it knows that, okay, it recommends these.
Things you say can add to cart. And what about this stuff? You can ask questions and keep on conversing if it knows you. Hey Thomas, these are the things you can suggest. For one example is we have company that's sellings. I can go say my wife needs theses And that this occasion that keeps on talking to you, and it can be like 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 conversation. It knows the history behind it, and you can summarize the history. The most important thing is that. Merchants don't have the visibility right now of what customers are getting. The customer might come and search for something, but here what we're not only,, including a sales assistant.
And on the shop online store, but also analytics, like how many people added to cart, whatever they're asking for. And also we are going to give recommendations to the merchant, Hey, most of the customers are asking about discount code or something. Why don't you provide this as a prompt? So we can even, we want to replace all the forms by something conversational.
Hey, like right now we see you can go click an email, subscribe. To our newsletter to get a 10% discount or discount code. So what happens is you take the chat off and go to the mail, they might come, they might not come back. So we wanna stay there, keep the conversation going, say, Hey, you know what, send me what's an email.
So it'll automatically give them code to them and continue the conversation. So there's a lot of insights a merchant can get from chatting with upgrade.ai. So it will hold
Priya Samant: the customer throughout to make sure it's augmented for the merchant, the revenue and the conversation.
So they can do whatever they have to do fine tuning at their end. So this is going to be, representation of them 24
Thomas Arul: seven. I like the point
Claus Lauter: that you with the analytics, you can find out what your best salesperson, which is hardworking for 24 seven is actually doing and what the outcome is so that you can fine tune it.
Now, I saw that there is also a hands free mode. How does that
Thomas Arul: work? what we want to do is, percent of the shoppers are mobile. They're using mobile phones to shop. So we want to give them an hands free experience where they can just open and talk to it and get their conversation. So like how you do with Siri or Alexa, we want to give that more as part of the Shopify app system
Claus Lauter: ecosystem.
Okay. That sounds great. Are there any kind of specific industries on these or verticals that work very well with sales assistance?
Thomas Arul: That's very good question. So one other thing is that what we realized is AI is so smart, such a way that we have tried this. Every different scenario from, liquor shop to a fashion boutique to a makeup store to someone selling candles or someone selling cocktails or someone, it seems to be working some customers who are selling expensive used watches.
It works. So AI is smart, and you have to just train that with your pages. And you say, the most important thing is that The role that you want that to play, that is very important. So like when you're configuring, if, say suppose I'm just saying you're selling, furniture.
So you just say, I'm, this is a furniture sales system. Then automatically with the power of degenerative ai, it acts as, acts a furniture sales system. So one of the good examples, one of our customers. So one of the prompts was, is familiar one customer tried, Hey, I'm a alcoholic, what should I buy?
So immediately the first version was saying, Hey, you know what, I'm sorry to hear your alcoholic, these would recommend these wines. So then we told the model if something comes negative, don't try to sell, stop being overselling. So all these things were configured in parameters and it beautifully, all the industries we tried within five minutes, it start working and there's a part of AI and that does something which is really never seen.
Priya Samant: it's showing a lot of empathy also, which is very important because some of the brands, actually, especially if you're in children's clothing tone should be very different than what, the general selling of say apparel or other products happened.
So through tuning and through making them understand, they beautifully represent online. And that's the power of AI.
Thomas Arul: I
Claus Lauter: find myself asking, or when I ask chat, GPTI put a please in there. So I think that's working in both directions. The empathetic part of it, just being friendly, even it's, if it is ai.
How does the onboarding process look like? Are there any kind of homework emergent has to do before they can get started?
Thomas Arul: No. It's very simple. Just go to, in a Shopify app store. Click on operate, search for update.ai. Click on it. Download it. It'll automatically, load the pages and products and most importantly Preview that, preview that in your app store, in the Shopify app store ecosystem to change the color of the chat to your brand, change the personality, the image, the avatars, and give some background story.
Then once you're comfortable, ask some questions, make sure that it. It's what you wanted, 90 percent of the time it will work, 99 percent of the time it will work, but 1 percent chance, Hey, I want to make sure that I talk about these products or I want to recommend these things. We can also configure that, then it's scripted.
And most of our clients are live within less than five minutes.
Claus Lauter: Now the holiday season is coming up, busy season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all the other holidays coming up. How would you, implement this to increase your holiday sales on your
Thomas Arul: store?
Priya Samant: Oh, absolutely. This would be the perfect time for the Shopify merchants to become early adopters of upgrade.
- So we have a basic plan. We have a standard plan and then the enterprise plan with basic you. So you get to agents through a sales assistant that can help you. But what we are offering is the early adopters or the first hundred early adopters that we will have. We want to. Help them this holiday season to augment their revenue through our upgrade.
We're shopping, experience through our sales assistant. So we will be actually upgrading them for free until December end so that they can. To see the value of what they are, operate AI sales assistance is offering them. We will actually work with them throughout this journey to make sure that they are successful in their, , selling so that, it can show what we have, what innovative, product sales assistant we have developed and what impact and value it's adding to the merchants.
Claus Lauter: that's an awesome offer. I think that a lot of people will take you up on that. Where can people find out more about you
Thomas Arul: guys?
Priya Samant: So they can visit, operate. ai is where, our information is there. Also in the Shopify store, , app store, if they go and search for operate. ai, they will be able to find us, but my email is very simple.
It's. P R I Y A at Upgrade. ai. They can reach out to me or they can reach out to Thomas at Upgrade. ai. We will be available to respond to them and make sure that they are successful, and answer any questions if they have regarding the app.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Before we come to the end of the coffee break today, is there anything that you want to share with the listeners that we haven't covered yet?
Priya Samant: No, I think Thomas can add also, but, as we all know that we have to embrace AI and we as a company are in the retail space where we are catering to all the industry verticals that are within the Shopify ecosystem. So we are here to help you make your holiday season very successful. Make you all understand the power of AI and how it's going to benefit.
And we are AI sales assistants. So we will be making sure that our product offers a dual balance, which is augmenting of revenue for the merchants. through the shopping cart elevation and tailored experience to the customers. Through the chatting with our sales assistant, that is why we say it is chat to commerce, chat
Thomas Arul: to cart.
And just to add, I've been working with retailers for 25 plus years, typically to, this is a holiday time. They don't want to touch their systems and, because they're busy but Fundamentally, this is with AI. It is everything. It just takes less than five minutes.
There's no integration required, nothing. It just takes less than five minutes just to install it and they can preview and see it beautifully working. So there's, it's like amazing how AI can learn your product, learn your company, learn about your, information brand and start acting less than five minutes.
A lot of retailers say, you know what, I'm just blackout because we want to focus on holiday, but this can help you augment your sales and increase your sales. we have a chat bot for support. So what we're saying is great. Keep that. But install Upgrade. Upgrade can be just a avatar of your phase or a brand somewhere in the center or wherever you want.
And also it could be part of your search too, you can have it you can see the difference how they can help. Any customer navigate, answer your questions, and most importantly, talk to your customer with your own brand and improve your sales and add more items from chat to cart.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, I would recommend every listener to go to your website.
I was on your website and I found one of your sales assistants, a chef. I started my professional career many, many years ago as a chef, as a cook. So I found this very interesting. This now has become, artificial intelligence on that side. And just keeping in mind that a year ago, there was no chat GPT.
We're just a year in and we have come so far and I'm really think that there is so much potential, and so many advantages for merchants and shoppers and using AI that they definitely should. Try it out. And Thomas, what you said earlier, there's only two groups. The ones that are using AI are the other ones looking at it and dying.
That's pretty, pretty sure I'm a hundred percent with you on that one. Cool. I would put the links in the show notes. Then you just one click away and hope that a lot of listeners will check it out and thanks for your time today.
Thomas Arul: Thank you. Thank you so
Priya Samant: much for having us. Thank you.
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