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E-commerce players to fight next war with Artificial Intelligence

Karan Choudhury/New Delhi 13 Jan 18 | 10:50 PM

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In an ideal world, Mayur Datar, chief data strategist, Flipkart, wants his company’s app to understand every need of the users even before they know it. Be it buying a pen or a refrigerator, Datar wants his app to figure out everything starting from what the customer requires to how much loan would that person need to buy the same. This is exactly what Datar hopes to achieve in 2018.

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Knowing very well that the fast maturing e-commerce segment in India is making a gradual shift from just discounting to a more dynamic and receptive shopping experience, Flipkart, and their biggest competitors Amazon and Paytm Mall, are all trying to bolster their back-end tech, making their artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) platform stronger and future-ready.

According to industry experts, around $2.5 billion might be spent by the three players on AI and ML in 2018. While Amazon India, with backing from its US counterpart, is already doing a lot in area of precision analytics, AI and ML, Flipkart, which managed to fatten its wallet last year, is acquiring companies in Silicon Valley as well as working in collaboration with software giant Microsoft, tech major Tencent, as well as its biggest investor SoftBank Group to take on Amazon with its “India specific" AI and ML platform.

Paytm Mall, which is the other major investment of SoftBank in India, is relying on tech giant Alibaba Group as well as its data science team based out of Canada to take on the other two.

The e-commerce AI stack

Amazon India: Large team based out of India as well as US

* AI to be used for more local languages on its platform, also improving local dialect understanding of Alexa

* More targeted advertisements for users

* AI to gauge the daily needs of customers and give recommendations accordingly

Flipkart: Team of 25 data scientists, teams based out of US and more acquisition of AI and ML firms

* Improve backend inventory planning, assessing credit worthiness, more dynamic and precise app

Paytm: Data science team based out of Canada, Alibaba tech

* More personalised AI

* Checking credit worthiness

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