AI will continue to redefine the B2B experience: Vivek Agrawal, IndiaMART InterMESH Ltd.

Express Computers

In this exclusive editorial interaction, Vivek Agrawal, IndiaMART Intermesh delves deep into IndiaMART’s AI-driven initiatives, the evolution of e-commerce trends in 2024, and the strategic roadmap for leveraging emerging technologies to shape the future of B2B commerce.

Some edited excerpts:

With IndiaMART’s significant presence and influence in the B2B marketplace, how do you foresee e-commerce trends evolving in 2024, particularly in terms of emerging technologies such as AI-driven voice commerce and automated delivery?

At IndiaMART, we witness millions of sellers and buyers having conversations and transactions across 56 industries and 95,000+ categories, we can anticipate a shift in e-commerce trends that is fueled by the rapid advancement of emerging technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be at the forefront, ready to transform various aspects of commerce, including voice-based commerce and automated delivery systems.

In the coming future, many companies will adopt voice commerce, as the use of voice­ commands powered by artificial intelligence, can make things run smoother and more efficiently. Through natural language processing, businesses can efficiently interact with suppliers, find relevant products & services, and place orders. In times to come, using voice commands will not only enhance the user experience but will also improve productivity by transforming routine operations.

Even though IndiaMART does not manage delivery or logistics directly, e-commerce companies are moving towards automated delivery systems using drones. However, this is yet to be seen in India at scale. These automated delivery systems will change how people expect deliveries to happen and how quickly they arrive. These advance­ments promise faster, cheaper delivery processes, setting new standards for logistics operations but will likely impact B2C industries more than B2B industries.

Additionally, AI will continue to refine the B2B experience, similar to what we do at IndiaMART. Here, AI analyzes the buyer & seller behavior and preferences on the platform, and suggests tailored recommendations for products or suppliers, making the platform more personalized, intuitive, and responsive to the specific needs of the user.

Could you elaborate on the tools and platforms that IndiaMART is leveraging to facilitate seamless online transactions for buyers and sellers on your platform, especially considering the diverse needs of Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Large Enterprises?

IndiaMART utilizes a variety of tools and platforms designed to facilitate seamless online transactions for both buyers and sellers, catering to the diverse needs of Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Large Enterprises alike. Our platform boasts a user-friendly interface, enabling businesses to effortlessly list their products or services and connect with potential buyers. With the strongest network effects of 78+ lakh sellers, 18+ crore buyers, and 10+ crore products & services registered on the platform, a business has a range of choices to choose from according to their specific business needs.

Central to our offerings is also a robust CRM system called Lead Manager, where the user is capable of accessing historical conversations and managing their potential leads with the help of their specific information (including their products of interest, membership timeline, verification details, behavior on the platform, etc.) on the platform, enabling them to customize their proposals or quotations accordingly. The lead manager has been enabling ~ 4 crore replies and callbacks every month ensuring efficient communication between buyers and sellers throughout their business journey.

Moreover, IndiaMART extends personalized support and guidance to SMEs with the help of its sales and service meetings (more than 1.5 lakh physical meetings every month) aiding them in navigating the intricacies of the online marketplace and optimizing their visibility and sales potential.

Through the strategic utilization of these tools and platforms, we are committed to fostering a seamless and inclusive B2B marketplace environment, catering to businesses of all sizes with tailored solutions and unwavering support.

IndiaMART has been at the forefront of transforming the B2B landscape with AI-led innovations. Can you share some insights into how these technologies are being utilized to enhance user experience, precision targeting, and ROI optimization on your platform?

IndiaMART stands at the forefront of leveraging innovative AI-driven solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of Indian Businesses. Through the strategic application of advanced algorithms, we have significantly enhanced user experiences, precision targeting, and ROI optimization on our platform.

A primary focus area has been the enhancement of search capabilities as 65 lakh misspellings and Hinglish searches happen on our platform every month. By comprehensively understanding Indian languages, including common misspellings and even ‘Hinglish’ or other multi-lingual search, we ensure precise search results, simplifying the process for users to find what they need effortlessly.

Additionally, our AI-powered image editing tools have greatly streamlined and enhanced the cataloguing capability for our users. From seamless background removal to automated cropping, these features have made product cataloguing more efficient, elevating the visual appeal of listings and driving higher engagement.

Our recommendation and matchmaking systems leverage state-of-the-art AI algorithms to facilitate more efficient connections between buyers and sellers. By meticulously analyzing user behavior and preferences, we facilitate seamless transactions, leading to enhanced satisfaction and increased repeat users ( more than 53% of users are repeat buyers on the platform). Our conversational commerce capabilities, driven by AI, enable personalized interactions within chats. This fosters deeper connections between buyers and sellers, resulting in more meaningful engagements and improved conversion rates.

Through these AI-led innovations, IndiaMART continues to redefine the B2B landscape, empowering businesses to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

Fraud detection, price optimization, and supply chain efficiency are critical areas for any e-commerce platform. What key strategies has IndiaMART implemented to address these challenges effectively, particularly in the context of serving a wide range of businesses across different sectors and geographies?

IndiaMART has strategically prioritized critical areas such as fraud detection, price optimization, and ensuring a transparent marketplace environment to instill trust and reliability among our diverse range of businesses across different sectors and geographies. While we don’t directly engage in supply chain processes, our focus on creating a secure, fair, and efficient platform remains unwavering.

Fraud Detection: Central to our security measures is a robust fraud detection system. Leveraging advanced AI and machine learning technologies, we analyze buyer and seller behavior patterns and profile information to proactively identify and mitigate potential fraud risks. This vigilant monitoring and regular platform cleansing ensure that only genuine users participate in transactions, preserving the integrity and trustworthiness of our marketplace.

Price Optimization: Recognizing the pivotal role of accurate pricing in decision-making, IndiaMART employs sophisticated data analytics to monitor and rectify price listings across the platform. This effort eliminates incorrect or misleading prices, empowering buyers to make well-informed decisions while selecting suppliers. Our commitment to providing transparent and fair pricing information is integral to enhancing user experience and satisfaction.

Through our dedicated efforts in these areas, driven by cutting-edge technology and rigorous data analysis, IndiaMART not only enhances operational efficiency and trust but also significantly contributes to the overall health and growth of the digital B2B ecosystem. Our ongoing investment in technology and innovation underscores our steadfast commitment to delivering a safe, reliable, and efficient marketplace for businesses worldwide.

Could you provide some specific examples or case studies highlighting how IndiaMART is leveraging emerging technologies such as Generative AI to drive innovation and efficiency in e-commerce operations?

IndiaMART, renowned as one of India’s largest online B2B marketplaces, strategically integrates Generative AI to drive innovation and efficiency across its e-commerce operations, revolutionizing buyer-seller interactions and optimizing platform performance. Here are some specific examples showcasing how IndiaMART harnesses Generative AI to pioneer in various domains, fostering innovation and enhancing user experience:

Enhanced Category Mapping: By implementing Generative AI, IndiaMART achieves remarkable accuracy and efficiency in category mapping. By analyzing product descriptions, titles, and attributes, this technology precisely categorizes listings, ensuring optimal matchmaking between buyers and sellers. Improved category mapping not only boosts the discoverability of products but also amplifies seller visibility, ultimately enriching the user experience and bolstering platform SEO.

Generative AI-driven Suggested Replies in Lead Management System:
IndiaMART’s Lead Management System (LMS) now integrates Generative AI to provide users with suggested replies, expediting and ensuring smooth communication between buyers and sellers. By comprehensively analyzing buyer enquiries’ context and content, the AI system generates tailored response suggestions, enhancing response time and conversion likelihood while preserving interaction quality. This feature significantly streamlines the transaction process, elevating overall user satisfaction.

AI Copilots for Engineering Excellence: IndiaMART’s engineering team leverages AI copilots to streamline development processes. These AI assistants aid in coding, debugging, and suggesting improvements, effectively reducing development time and enhancing code quality. By harnessing Generative AI, IndiaMART accelerates innovation in engineering practices, ensuring swift and efficient development cycles.

Advancing Product Search Capabilities with Large Language Models (LLMs): Integration of Large Language Models (LLMs) transforms product search capabilities on IndiaMART. LLMs adeptly process natural language queries, delivering precise and relevant search results. This AI-driven approach enables users to articulate queries naturally, enhancing search efficiency and intuitiveness. Improved search capabilities empower buyers to swiftly locate desired products, amplifying platform usability and effectiveness.

Through these pioneering implementations of Generative AI, IndiaMART remains at the forefront of innovation, continually elevating user experiences and driving efficiency across its e-commerce ecosystem.

Can you share with us some of the key technology initiatives planned in the next six months to one year?

In the next six to twelve months, we’re diving deeper into AI initiatives to bring about the following improvements in our workspace:

Improving Search and Product Discovery:
We’re working towards making our platform easier for our buyers to find exactly what they’re looking for. Whether it’s refining search results or making product discovery more intuitive, we want the experience to be seamless.

Personalized Recommendations: We’re all about making the experience personalized. Our team is fine-tuning our recommendation and matchmaking algorithms to ensure you get suggestions that truly resonate with specific needs and preferences.

Enhancing Content Quality:
Trust is important to us. That’s why we’re committed to enhancing the quality of content on our platform, so you one rely on the information that they find here.

But it’s not just about technology. We’re also exploring new avenues to connect buyers and sellers more effectively, making the marketplace experience smoother for everyone involved. And when it comes to operations, we’re all about efficiency. We automate processes to speed up execution and reduce lead times, ensuring you get what you need faster than ever before.

All of this will not matter if we do not keep data safe. That’s why cybersecurity is a top priority for us. We’re constantly working to strengthen our infrastructure and protect information, so you can use our platform with confidence. Overall, our goal is simply to make the experience on IndiaMART the best that it can be.