Arvind Rapaka

15 Oct 2021

AI And Online Marketplaces


There has been exponential growth in online marketplaces across the world. Examples: Urban Clap, Uber Eats, Zomato, LimeTray, Just Eat etc. Such marketplaces work as a bridge between the businesses and the customers, allowing customers to order goods/services from nearby businesses and get them delivered to their doorstep.

These marketplaces, apart from having business partners at the hyperlocal level, also have delivery partners. Once the order is placed, the marketplaces will know the order details and inform the appropriate business partner and deliver the goods/services to the customers via their delivery partners.

Big Data technologies, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning (ML) can play a pivotal role in the whole process. Big Data technologies can not only improve the scalability and availability of these services to any extent but can improve the whole analytic capabilities of these services by combining and analysing structured and unstructured data for a unified view of the customers, business partners and delivery partners.

Further on the customer side, AI and Big Data technologies can help in listing personalized products & services, AI-based product recommendations and personalized search.

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List personalized products and services:

AI can help in personalisation by enriching catalogues by segmenting products/services and building an association with catalogues in real-time, and leverage catalogue & product intelligence and customer intelligence to deliver a personalised listing of products and services to the customer. A better list of products and services will lead to a better shopping experience and conversion.

AI-based product recommendations:

AI can help in cross-selling and up-selling of products and services. It does by analyzing the data related to customer’s behavioural patterns, past customers purchase, and similarity of the customer with other customer segments to offer perfect cross-sell and up-sell opportunities that have a high degree of conversion.

Personalized search:

Personalised search engines can tailor specifically to an individual customer’s interests by returning search results for the individual beyond the specific query provided. Also using NLP (Natural Language Processing) for analysing past customers’ comments can be used to induce new customers to buy products/services.

Personalized ads:

AI can help come up with 1:1 personalized ads. One of the important ways an online marketplace stimulates demand is through ads. More are the ads personalized more is their conversion. ML models can crunch a lot of customer data to help design ads and map those ads with those customers where conversion is highest thereby optimize the advertising objectives and get the most value from the ad spend.

On the business and delivery partner side, AI can be used to optimize the cost of delivery. AI can also be used to forecast demand and supply in real-time to estimate the capacity at a hyperlocal level.

Optimize the cost of delivery:

AI can come up with a route optimization solution by optimizing the 1000’s vehicles’ capacity and 1000’s of routes by considering the time window for each delivery resulting in cost-effective and efficient logistic operations. This would not have been humanly possible without the help of AI/ML and Big Data. Studies have shown that shortening of turnaround and timely deliveries can tremendously improve customer satisfaction.

Demand Forecasting:

The more you know about customer behaviour and trends, the more you can control the demand and supply. Online marketplaces by using AI/ML can analyze previous sales, geographies, locations, customer purchasing tendencies, and other demand & supply factors to forecast demand and come up with price decisions that maximize profits and revenues.

Estimate the capacity at the business partner level:

Online marketplaces can help their business and delivery partners acquire a holistic perspective on their customers’ preferences and linking areas of their partners’ operations with the customer data by using AI to aid in inventory management. AI/ML can assist the business and delivery partners in ordering the correct inventory to meet the exact customer demand.

— Arvind Rapaka, Founder & co-CEO
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