Amazon is a sales powerhouse. The company generates billions in revenue every year selling to both consumers and businesses. This B2C behemoth entered the distribution space when it launched its online B2B marketplace Amazon Business in 2015. This service offers specialized product listings and bulk purchasing options catered to small- and medium-sized businesses. In 2018, Amazon Business pulled in $10 billion in sales. By 2023, forecasts show sales could reach as high as $52 billion.

Amazon has an unprecedented sales conversion rate of 13% — seven times the industry average. How do they accomplish this? Their success is primarily driven by cutting-edge AI that is constantly working to keep customers engaged and enhance the customer experience. Amazon has optimized its product recommendations and search results with AI to promote personalized, relevant products to its customers.

So, how can distributors get a piece of this success? With the help of AI-powered technology, distributors can leverage Amazon-like product recommendation and search engine strategies to even the playing field.

How Do Amazon’s Product Recommendation and Search Programs Work?

Amazon’s AI software tracks customers as they move through the site, gathering information about product preferences and purchasing trends. It then uses this information to make relevant upselling and cross-selling suggestions to users. Unlike most e-commerce platforms, Amazon has implemented this recommendation strategy across its website – from the homepage to product listings to checkout.

Amazon provides product lists on its homepage based on what the AI determines a customer is most likely to buy. These suggestions are generated from various metrics, including browsing history, past purchases and similar purchases made by other customers. Once the customer clicks on an item, Amazon provides lists of similar items commonly purchased alongside what the customer is viewing. After the user is ready to checkout, the system will give last-minute suggestions that customers can easily add to their cart.

Recommendation titles are eye-catching and persuasive. They include:

  • Frequently bought together
  • Similar products
  • Featured items you may like
  • Recommended for you
  • Customers also bought
  • Inspired by your shopping trends

Amazon’s ability to suggest relevant products to the right customers has driven roughly $50 billion in incremental sales, accounting for approximately 35% of all purchases.

Search relevancy is another power player for Amazon. According to LinkedIn, the company has more than 800 employees dedicated to search relevancy programming and research. As a result, Amazon’s search results are astoundingly accurate and result in a 42% click-through rate. Comparatively, only 16% of Walmart searches result in a click. Amazon’s search engine is worth about $10 billion per year, and that number is growing.

How Can Distributors Utilize AI-Powered Recommendation and Search Technologies?

AI is a powerful tool that can enhance your sales strategy. However, there are several key differences between the B2C and B2B sales environments. For example, whereas many B2C customers are prone to making impulse buys or one-time purchases, B2B customers repeatedly reorder the same or similar products. In addition, B2B buyers are more likely to buy items for specific projects. For AI implementation to be successful, distributors must take these differences into account and make adjustments.

AI can boost productivity, sales, customer relationships and revenue. However, for it to be successful, distributors must connect their various sales channels. By combining inside sales, outside sales, customer service, marketing, counter sales and e-commerce, distributors can gain a 360-degree view of each customer. Afterward, every interaction will result in a better understanding of a buyer’s preferences and purchasing behavior – enabling your sales reps to make highly targeted pitches and your e-commerce site to make highly relevant product suggestions.

By implementing AI strategies to both your e-commerce site and sales workflows, you can provide customers with a personalized shopping experience across all touchpoints. Some of the benefits of AI-powered technology include:

  1. Productivity Boost – With the help of connected data and AI-powered recommendations, your team will see detailed information about customers and their purchasing preferences. With this technology, sales reps can then make more relevant upsell and cross-sell recommendations and offer advanced reordering services. As a result, AI can benefit every member of your sales team.
  2. Highly Satisfied Customers – AI technology can significantly improve the shopping experience for your customers. Enhanced recommendations alongside consultative selling will streamline your customer journey. As a result, buyers will not only be more satisfied with their experience; their personalized recommendations will also encourage them to spend more and buy more frequently.
  3. Higher Profits – A personalized e-commerce experience and a more efficient sales team will result in happier customers and higher profits. A recent McKinsey simulation predicted companies that adopted AI early would increase their cash flow by 122% by 2030.

How Can Distributors Implement AI Into Their Sales Strategy?

The purpose of AI is to improve your revenue and support your sales team – not replace sales reps altogether. Although 85% of B2B customers want to repurchase products digitally, most buyers still prefer to interact with real humans when selecting new products or services.

The combination of knowledgeable salespeople and decades of experience gives distributors a distinct advantage over Amazon. With the right AI software, your sales reps can enhance their skills by quickly finding which customers to contact and what products to recommend – all without losing their personal touch.