People want online shopping to offer them something better than offline shopping. It has to be easier, more customized, and cheaper. Also, online users are concerned about many issues related to shopping on this new medium. They want security and peace of mind. They want to know that when they type in their credit card number, and press “enter,” that they will actually get exactly what they paid for, and exactly what was promised.
What are the implications of the widespread use of ShopBots and related types of autonomous agents in electronic marketplaces? How will the species of Intelligent Agents evolve? Looking ahead several years into the future, ShopBots will evolve into economic entities, interacting with billions of other self-interested software agents, including PriceBots, which are agents that set prices in order to maximize the profits for companies (just as ShopBots seek prices that minimize costs for consumers). When sufficiently widespread adoption of ShopBots by purchasers forces sellers to become more competitive, sellers will respond by creating PriceBots that automatically set prices so as to maximize profitability PriceBots will utilize price setting methods to combat the growing community of ShopBots, in a full-fledged agent-based economic war.
With time, the ShopBot will even allow you the option to remove the step of buying or shopping from your life. The rich behavioral information gathered by your LifeBot will allow it to begin to anticipate you needs and offer you options before you are even aware of the need. For example, you know that you purchase toothpaste roughly once every two months. As the ShopBot learns more about your purchasing behavior, it recognizes this pattern and begins to send a reminder to you before you need it again. You are also given the option to have the ShopBot automatically purchase toothpaste on a bi-monthly basis.If you choose to change brands, the ShopBot can provide you with options for another brand that will meet your needs based on your past purchases, and the database of information that it has.
Having determined many aspects of your personality, the ShopBot can send you a message when a new product hits the market. For example, your current car is two years old, which is the same age each of your previous cars were when you bought a new one. The ShopBot can pro-actively locate a few cars that are top-of-the-line. It sends you a message stating its about time you considered buying a new TV, it offers some suggestions of brands and features that you might like, and it finds a buyer for her old car. With the click of one button, your entire automobile upgrade is transacted for you in a ShopBot-enabled solution that removed all the time-intensive shopping she would otherwise have endured.
ShopBots will be caught up in a paradoxical dynamic with the customer. As the customer increasingly uses the ShopBot to find values, the ShopBot will get better at finding the types of products the customer desires, making the experience more personalized, thus convincing the customer to use the ShopBot more often. ShopBots will target merchants that meet the needs of each shopper’s profile, and will offer information other than just price (availability, features, comparisons, etc) so that customers receive a total value understanding of the products listed. The number one key driver for online shopping is getting the best price. ShopBots allow for ready price comparisons across global boundaries, and consumers will gravitate toward the best value. As prices in more affluent nations decline, developing nations will experience prices that rise toward a common mean.
Author: David Jurus