We’re proud at Shopper.com to be using the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence, to help to save you more. Among emerging technologies, no other has come close to the level of buzz that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has generated.

But are you lost at what AI is? Back In March 2017, a worldwide survey of internet users found that three out of 10 people polled had heard of AI, but didn’t know much about it. So, we wrote this quick 101 guide for our community of shoppers to explain what AI is, and how AI is helping users save money in a variety of ways.

Eager? Read more to find out…

What is A.I?

According to the father of Artificial Intelligence, John McCarthy, the definition of AI is “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”.

And have you ever noticed that companies these days are citing Artificial Intelligence (AI) as its ‘magic mojo’ for success? What’s less common is an explanation of what AI really is, alongside a detailed explanation of how it can provide better user experiences. It’s why people who don’t know much about AI often jump to conclusions. Like ‘Will robots take over our jobs?’ ‘Will there be a machine apocalypse?’ ‘Is humanity doomed?’

Robots? What Robots?

Fear not. While AI is complicated, and it’s constantly evolving, it shouldn’t be confusing or anxiety-inducing. We live in amazing times with driverless cars, drones delivering packages, and chatbots taking our fashion orders. Change is always disruptive, but there are a growing number of AI applications actively improving people’s lives and helping people save smartly with their money.

Basically, AI is the ability of a machine or a computer program to think, act, and learn like humans. Don’t worry about a robot stealing your job, the AI available today is not advanced enough to have the same capacity as a human brain. Computers and AI are great at calculations, like square roots. Human brains, however, are great at parallel processing and sorting information. Could a robot, without being preprogrammed, recognize a cat, tell a joke, or make a jump shot? The ‘human’ part in artificial intelligence, then, is all about the output, or what the user interacts with directly. A chatbot is a great example of this. They are designed to mimic human conversation and act as a customer service agent while answering user’s questions.

Similarly within the world of e-commerce, if you ask your favorite virtual assistant: “I want to buy a white t-shirt”, you are doing exactly the same thing as you were in the online store, only you are speaking, rather than typing, your request. Similarly, When you search for ‘white t-shirt’ on your favorite online store, you are inputting information to an algorithm and then see the output as a set of search results via a search engine – hopefully, there are pictures and websites full of white t-shirts!

The goals of A.I are to…

To Create Expert Systems − The systems which exhibit intelligent behavior, learn, demonstrate, explain, and advice its users.

To Replicate Human Intelligence − Systems which understand, think, learn, and interact like humans.

Like humans, AI systems aren’t born perfect. They have to learn and adapt just like humans: by taking in information, or data, processing it and storing it for future references. So as humans we will play a critical role in the ongoing optimization of AI, to make the user experience as humane as possible.

Think about your smartphone, for example. It’s a digital assistant that can connect you to billions of resources right away. And it’s not just your mobile phone, every single piece of technology in your life is getting smarter. Your fridge can tell you when you’re running low on milk, your kettle can automatically boil when you wake up, and you can order food by chatting to your smart speakers.

It’s amazing to think that your smartphone can now help you with money management. Our finances should be easy to understand, and we should be able to make better-informed decisions about our financial futures. Artificial Intelligence helps make it easier for us to get to know our money better, and if we are given the ability to really see what’s going on with our finances, we are more likely to be better at managing them. So here’s our first way AI can help you save money: automated savings.

Automated Savings

Over the years, people have set up all sorts of methods to ignore the reality that they have a savings account. They say a penny saved is a penny earned, but what is the best way to save? A new wave of smart savings apps and accounts could be the answer.

Take apps such as Digit, an American-based saving app. It sets up a ghost savings account for you, and the result is a surprising amount of money saved after a relatively short amount of time. Every day, Digit checks your spending habits and moves money from your checking account to your Digit account. And crucially, Digit offers to reimburse you if ever your account is overdrawn by Digit.

Digit in action

Other apps such as the UK-based Moneybox and Monzo look at all your spending, and round each payment up to the nearest pound, then put the difference in a savings account. You access and control your accounts through an app on your phone. They’re also backed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and protection via the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

While these apps obviously won’t cover your typical banking needs, it can provide a quick look into your transactions, set budgets, and give you detailed breakdowns, helping you save all that important money. Combined with AI and predictive technology, these apps can really help analyze our spending habits and provides valuable advice. Think of your money-saving apps like a strict financial father. After all, AI won’t become a victim to ways of thinking like: “a few dollars here and there won’t matter”.

But it’s not just money-saving apps that can help you feel at peace with your finances. You can even save money from the comfort of your own home without having to do any work. Imagine all that money rolling in without having to lift a finger! You can now save money computers and smartphones thanks to ‘smart’ devices called IoT’s (Internet of Things). They’re backed by artificial intelligence and are aimed at solving real-world problems with digital interventions — including digital money management. There are IoT for everything, from furniture to food, and toiletries with sensors to measure and send data. This data can be used to help you make smart money management decisions without much effort. It sounds like a far-off, futuristic concept, but it’s here and it’s very exciting.

Save intelligently in your own home

IoT (Internet of Things) devices are nonstandard computing devices that connect wirelessly to a network and can transmit data. Thanks to cheap processors and wireless networks, it’s possible to turn anything, from a pill to an aeroplane, into part of the IoT.

McKinsey estimates that the market size of the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow to $3.7 billion by 2020 and IHS predicts that there will be 75.4 billion IoT-enabled devices installed by 2025.

Just think about that for a moment — 75.4 billion. It’s an incomprehensible number.

But can they help you save and be smart with your money?

The aim of these devices is to make smarter decisions without any human intervention. But IoT creates a tremendous amount of data. Think of it as a huge gushing water pipe, with no clear direction. It’s why AI is needed to go through this mountain of data to create smart tailorable actions.
So IoT devices are less about saving you money directly, but instead help you to reduce energy consumption and enhance energy efficiency which leads to your money being saved.

Take smart home meters, for example. They are designed to conserve energy, save money, and produce less waste. The Ecobee3 Smarter WiFi thermostat manages the heating and temperature of your home to ensure that you aren’t throwing your pennies away. The device is fully integrated with Amazon Alexa and is even capable of recognizing whether a room is occupied or empty, so it can adjust it’s temperatures accordingly. Ecobee3 states that its product can save homeowners an average of 23% on their energy bills. That’s a lot of money, and a very convenient way to save, too!

Here’s the Ecobee 3

Or, you can always opt for the Amazon Echo. At $179.99, the Amazon Echo looks like a pricey toy, especially if you’ve got a smartphone that can do many of Echo’s tasks. But the Amazon Echo has amazing opportunities to save money.
Take the kitchen. The Echo can set up timers in the kitchen, hands-free. If you’ve ever forgotten to set a timer, and a result burned food and wasted money, then the Echo is for you.

Or, if you’re a gym buddy, the Echo can even set up your daily workout. Scrap your workout DVDs. Using third-party technology, Echo can talk and time you through a quick workout. Currently, its specialty is a seven-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, but who knows if yoga or Crossfit may appear on Echo?

This might seems all a bit abstract to you, but let’s establish one thing that IoT and A.I devices provide for you: increasingly personalized experiences. These devices predict your behavior patterns with the ultimate goal of saving you money, by offering relevant information and timely assistance.

We live in a world where attention spans are shortening and digitally-savvy shoppers want the right information to find what they want, when they want it, with the minimum amount of effort. That means e-commerce and the wider coupon industry must continually evolve to satisfy this increasingly demanding audience. And we’ve listened to you guys. We want you at the center of the online shopping experience, rather than the business or products. And thanks to the power of A.I, we can do exactly that.

AI Transforms Digital Discounts

Who doesn’t love a good discount?

According to Invesp, 60% of the public ‘love’ receiving digital coupons, with the estimated number of users of mobile coupon users set to exceed one billion this year. Yet just 2% of all coupons are redeemed digitally. This is an incredible figure, considering nearly every important document is now available in a paperless format, yet, the majority of coupons still need to be clipped from the Sunday newspaper.

As e-commerce becomes one of the fastest-growing retail channels, consumers are becoming increasingly tired of searching for that one golden coupon code for hours. They want to save money and want those savings right at their fingertips.

Our extension can do just that as an easy solution to transition paper coupons, to a more usable, web-friendly format. The browser extension searches the internet for coupon codes during the checkout process, using the best code for each transaction. Not only that, but you can also earn money, too!

Every time a user finds a valid discount code, we at Shopper.com earn a sales commissions paid for by Retail Affiliates (RA). We then share those commissions with the rest of Shopper.com community, and the user (or ‘Coupon Hunter’) who sourced the original coupon. The ‘Coupon Hunters’ commission depend on the popularity of the coupons they have uploaded to the platform. The more a coupon is used by Bargain Hunters, the greater the Coupon Hunter’s earnings.

This is thanks to our extension using machine learning. We call it the “SavingRank” algorithm. It sounds complicated, like Pythagorem’s Theorem. Really, it’s just a way for large data sets to “learn” and create patterns — then, they use what they’ve learned to recognize more of the unknown without being explicitly programmed.

Our algorithm sifts through a number of data points including product data from our online retailers to classify the correct coupons to the products in your basket. This enhances the user experience as invalid voucher codes get eliminated swiftly. Currently, we have more than 250,000 voucher codes matched and ranked against 2 million products from 30,000+ online stores across the globe.

The end result? A shopping experience that speaks directly to you, the customer. You see, the modern shopper is impatient and spoiled for choice. If they don’t find a coupon almost immediately on one site, then they’ll quickly jump off and try another site. Artificial Intelligence, combined with an online personal shopping experience, is the perfect way to address these needs, by delivering exactly what a user wants, without them having to do very much, and often without them even realizing they needed something. It’s about delivering the right coupons, targeted at the right people, at the right time.

It’s a smarter way to apply coupons, without going through the hassle of broken coupons. And you never have to worry about overpaying again.

Final remarks: What’s next in AI?

AI is considered a major component of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and its potential socioeconomic impact is believed to have the same impact as the invention of electricity once had. From money-saving apps to smart-money savings at home, and even our AI-powered browser extension, this technology has reimagined our relationship with money. Artificial Intelligence satisfies today’s demanding shoppers by delivering the right money-saving tools that they need at the right. It powers a user experience that is easy for shoppers to understand. And best of all, artificial intelligence has amazing potential to help shoppers save a lot of money. And who doesn’t love to save money?