December 16, 2021
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4
minute read

How Robust Intelligence Can Help Secure the E-commerce Industry This Holiday Season, One ML Pipeline at a Time

Perspectives

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the face of e-commerce - especially this holiday season.

As people around the world celebrate in the midst of COVID-19, retailers must grapple with many uncertainties regarding their e-commerce holiday retail strategies. 

With business moving increasingly online, companies are forced to innovate new strategies for generating revenue and optimizing operations. 

In this shifting landscape of e-commerce, AI and ML have become even more commonplace tools across nearly every business vertical and are deployed to make fast decisions, automate tasks, increase sales, and drive profitability. 

These changes are especially impactful in the retail world, where understanding consumer behavior and trends helps companies better meet demand. Currently, big-name e-commerce brands like Amazon and eBay use AI and ML to target and tailor outreach according to consumer preferences. Similarly, Levi’s Chief of AI shared (here) that ML modeling has helped increase revenue by automatically recognizing patterns in data to make predictions for consumers and market trends. From chatbots to image searches to recommendation engines, AI and ML are revolutionizing the way retail companies expand their digital marketplaces.

Of course, COVID-19 has only accelerated these changes.

Since the first lockdowns last March, when business operations around the world were forced into virtual spaces, e-commerce has exploded. Most projections show that December 2021 will be the biggest holiday season in history for e-commerce. 

“We’ve seen a lot of people actually starting their Christmas shopping in the month of October, which is fundamentally different than we have seen traditionally in the past,” said Ryan Kelly, vice president of global e-commerce at FedEx, on December 7th, 2021. “What you see is a lot of messaging about shop and ship early, pulling sales forward, pulling promotions forward. A lot of retailers have really leaned into that this year.”

According to FedEx, overall e-commerce will increase by 13% from the record 2020 holiday season, to a startling 3.4 billion packages shipped. Think about that - nearly one package for every two humans on planet Earth.

Despite its many business advantages, however, implementing AI can be a somewhat expensive and hazardous endeavor.

Due to the black-box nature of many ML models, silent errors and model misbehaviors - attributable to problems like data drift, corner case inputs, misclassifications (etc.) - are often hidden to developers and model maintainers, and many companies lack the necessary expertise to effectively firefight these issues.

It’s clear that AI will drive revenue growth, but how can companies make it safe when business is booming - like this holiday season?

They can talk with our brilliant team at Robust Intelligence (RI) and discover solutions for building robust and trustworthy ML pipelines. 

RI eliminates AI failures by detecting model vulnerabilities and automatically preventing bad outcomes. The company does this via our two flagship products – an AI Firewall, which works by wrapping around an organization’s existing AI model to scan for contaminated data, and the Robust Intelligence Machine Engine (RIME), which performs automated stress testing on a customer’s AI models by inputting basic mistakes and deliberately launching adversarial attacks to see where existing weaknesses lie. 

Major e-commerce stores juggle tens of thousands of transactions daily, many of which are card-not-present (CNP) procurements – purchases which are far more difficult to verify than exchanges where the card and cardholder are present. 

AI and ML technologies allow companies to analyze and integrate hundreds of transactional data points and detect patterns that may constitute fraud. When an AI algorithm identifies an abnormal order, it’ll either automatically block it or refer it to a human for intervention.

As more and more e-commerce businesses adopt AI and ML solutions, especially this post-pandemic Christmas and beyond, Robust Intelligence can help play a major part in securing the future of business and consumer safety.

Within the e-commerce realm, RI has partnered with a number of the major companies in the cards and payments industry, including companies like PayPal and Intelligent Wave, Inc. (IWI - a payment fraud detection company in Japan).

Just as companies like IWI adopt AI to better optimize their customer journeys, generate new leads, and provide enhanced customer experiences, RI’s RIME platform helps detect and navigate any holes or gaps along the AI/ML platform. 

Ultimately, AI technology is likely to have an enormous and beneficial impact on the e-commerce industry in the coming years. It will change -- and arguably, improve -- the way that consumers find products online, and how businesses leverage online growth.

Without secure infrastructure, however, even the best AI/ML solutions can lead to significant risk for e-commerce giants trying to keep their finger on the pulse of software innovation - and across its current partnerships and beyond, Robust Intelligence is here to help secure the e-commerce industry in the artificial intelligence revolution.

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