As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to focus on the multitude of factors that will impact the renting industry in the forthcoming year. With the application of technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and big data, the online renting industry, in particular, is likely to go through a major transformation over the next few months. We have already witnessed the power of AI; how it can be harnessed to enhance both customer experience and attract more traffic. However, we expect to see more online rental marketplaces incorporating artificial intelligence into their platform for enhanced efficiency. While the technology is still in its nascent stages, let’s take a look at how AI will revolutionize the online renting industry in 2019.
As per a Gartner report, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human. Looking at the rise of chatbots, the prediction doesn’t seem too far off. From e-commerce websites to food-delivery apps, these AI-based chatbots have now become omnipresent. Programmed to communicate with the customers in a personalized way, they certainly help in enhancing the user experience. When it comes to online rental platforms, chatbots can help customers find the right product or service, check availability, and connect to the service personnel in case of any further queries.
E-retailers have been using AI-based product recommendation engines for a while now. In fact, Amazon sales went up by 29% after it started recommending products to its customers. Not only Amazon, but several other players in the e-commerce industry are also utilizing artificial intelligence to identify their target audience and better cater to them in a more targeted fashion. Therefore, it’s time that rental platforms follow suit. Personalized recommendations, without a doubt, can take the online renting industry by storm. A common example we see at RentSher is that someone booking a party equipment also needs party services and vice versa. With AI becoming more advanced by the day, it also has the potential to anticipate consumers’ needs, a factor that will prove to be enormously beneficial for businesses in this sector.
Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa; AI-integrated voice assistants have become a major hit among 21st-century consumers. More than 50% of all internet searches will be conducted through voice commands by 2020, predicts a ComScore report. Needless to say, the online renting industry can utilize this growing trend of users relying on voice commands to its advantage. Similar to how voice assistants are now used as online shopping tools, they can enable customers to rent a product or service by just using their voice. As some online rental marketplaces have begun toying with this idea, introducing the option of voice search can be the game changer for this sector.
While the rapid progress of AI and machine learning has raised some alarms, we must embrace the change and adapt to the technological advancements. It’s no secret that AI will dominate the online shopping as well renting industry in the years to come, with new innovations taking place every other day. It may take some time to reach its peak phase, but the AI revolution is already taking place.
(The author is the CTO of Rentsher – a leading online product rental marketplace and an aggregator for event service providers, electronics and medical equipment.)