Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed the landscape for small businesses, offering a crucial competitive advantage in areas from customer service and marketing to overall operational efficiency.

In a one-on-one discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s America’s Top Small Business Summit: Ready. Set. Scale., Kristen DelGuzzi, Editor-in-Chief at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke with Matt Madrigal, Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Shopping at Google, about the current trends and opportunities in AI. Here are some key insights from Madrigal on AI’s potential for businesses, how Google’s AI tools can help elevate the customer experience, and how this technology is ushering in a digital revolution.

[Read More: Missed the Summit? Catch the replay here.]

AI holds great potential for all businesses

Artificial intelligence gathers information from examples, which means generative AI technology “actually creates something entirely new from the examples that it sees and the information it has exposure to,” said Madrigal. This ability to create represents a huge opportunity for small businesses.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 2023 report reveals that 23% of small businesses are already embracing AI, with 82% of them citing improved efficiency as a significant benefit. Madrigal emphasized the accessibility of AI tools as being readily available to help small businesses, debunking the myth that AI is only for those with colossal budgets.

“I think there is a misperception out there that AI can only be used by big businesses,” said Madrigal. “That couldn't be further from the truth because [there are] so many awesome AI-powered tools specifically to help small businesses.”

Google's Product Studio, for example, provides an accessible solution for enhancing product imagery and marketing materials, even on a tight budget.

According to Madrigal, Google's commitment to organizing information positions it as a central player in the digital ecosystem, facilitating connections between businesses and consumers. This encourages healthy competition and ensures businesses of all sizes can carve their niche in the market.

[Read More: Traditional AI vs. Generative AI: A Breakdown]

I think there is a misperception out there that AI can only be used by big businesses. That couldn't be further from the truth because [there are] so many awesome AI-powered tools specifically to help small businesses.

Matt Madrigal, Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Shopping, Google

Small businesses can elevate customer service with AI

According to Madrigal, the key to applying AI to customer service is defining the problem, determining success metrics, and implementing AI to achieve your specific goal. One specific way to implement AI is using a chatbot designed to manage customer inquiries. These chatbots have become a common tool for small businesses for their success in streamlining operations and enhancing client interactions.

AI-driven chatbots provide timely responses, handle routine inquiries, and ensure customers have a positive experience. It can be likened to having a virtual assistant dedicated to customer interactions, available 24/7. This not only boosts efficiency but also leads to more satisfied customers, which is crucial for small businesses aiming to build lasting relationships and a strong reputation, he said.

AI is the backbone of the digital revolution

Beyond the efficiencies of AI, small businesses have the opportunity to tap into uncharted territories. For instance, AI-driven predictive analytics can help forecast trends and consumer behaviors, guiding inventory decisions. Machine-learning algorithms can analyze historical data to optimize pricing strategies, ensuring businesses don't under- or over-price their products.

AI also aids in personalized marketing. By studying individual customer preferences and purchase history, businesses can tailor marketing campaigns, improving customer engagement and conversion rates. This level of personalization was once a privilege of large corporations but is now attainable for small businesses.

Additionally, AI holds the potential to simplify online retail and create immersive shopping experiences.

“Whether it's better imagery [or] more immersive, life-like shopping experiences, I think [AI] really has the promise to continue to simplify, for example, online retail in a way where … it fulfills the promise of e-commerce from the beginning,” said Madrigal.

As AI's capabilities continue to expand, small businesses that embrace it stand at the forefront of innovation, well-positioned to adapt and thrive in a world where consumers seek convenience and quality.

“[AI] gives huge opportunities for businesses to succeed … to thrive,” Madrigal said.

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