Host Francois Marchand is joined by Surya Sanchez—Founder of DeepIdea Lab—to talk about how AI is transforming ecommerce and how ecommerce managers can implement AI and automation for their online stores.
- Surya’s background [1:44]
- Founder of DeepIdea Lab
- Automates B2B businesses
- How has the automation of ecommerce business processes transformed the industry, and what are some of the key benefits it brings to businesses? [2:50]
- It won’t be a really big shift – it will be implemented slowly, and will happen behind the scenes for many things. It will be slowly implementing and rolling out processes.
- Processes that have been changed:
- It’ will be’s more about how the business itself is working more efficiently.
- For refunds: you can implement AI and automation to understand the context of a refund request. You can match it with a keyword, or even to a phrase saying “give me my money back”. It will analyze the context of the email and send it to the right team.
- It won’t replace the team completely – it will just become a part of the team.
- How has DeepIdeaLab helped B2B businesses integrate these processes? [6:07]
- They automate invoice generation – when a deal is won you can auto generate the invoice and send it to the client. If you manage assets in a warehouse – you can automatically allocate the assets to the client. You can increase the efficiency of your team and scale your business without having to hire more people immediately.
With automation and AI, you will be able to scale your business up without hiring so many people right now.Surya Sanchez
- What are some practical steps businesses can take to start implementing AI and automation in their ecommerce operations, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources? [9:14]
- Make processes: streamline processes before thinking about AI. You can write SOP documentation about your processes.
- When you decide what’s the best process, then you can start automating it – checking if there are API available. It’s a way to connect tools together.
- How can businesses strike a balance between automation and maintaining a personalized, human touch? [13:15]
- AI won’t replace the human touch.
- We can use AI where there’s a lot of human mistakes. It’s a combination—we won’t be replaced by them.
With AI, we will be able to be more human.Surya Sanchez
- What are some emerging trends or advancements in AI and automation that have the potential to revolutionize the ecommerce industry in the coming years? [18:18]
- It’s just guessing because we never know.
- Shopping through chats
- Surya’s #1 piece of advice for ecommerce managers [21:00]
- Open your eyes and don’t be afraid to embrace new tools. Try to implement new technology because otherwise your competitors will.
Meet Our Guest
Surya Sanchez is an entrepreneur with the vision to make 1 million jobs more efficient. His company DeepIdea Lab offers consultancy to other businesses to leverage technologies to scale up. Process optimization, automation, and AI are part of DeepIdea Lab’s method to improve productivity. The consultancy specializes in connecting systems, such as accounting software and ecommerce.
We will not be replaced by AI, but we will work together, like the human touch and the AI together.Surya Sanchez
Resources From This episode:
- Subscribe to the newsletter to get our latest articles and podcasts
- Connect with Surya on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Check out DeepIdea Lab
Related Articles And Podcasts:
Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Francois Marchand: Artificial intelligence. Yep, that's the big buzzword these days. AI is all the rage. I mean, if you haven't heard of ChatGPT, well, you've probably been living under a rock. I'll be honest, AI can be a scary concept, but you'd be surprised how many of your ecommerce processes and tools are ready to benefit from AI and automation.
Welcome to The Ecomm Manager Podcast. Our mission is to help you succeed in your ecommerce journey with helpful advice from the experts who made it big. I'm your host, Francois Marchand. Now today, I'm very excited to be joined by Surya Sanchez. He's the founder of DeepIdea Lab, a consulting company that helps brands and ecommerce stores and all types of businesses automate their processes with AI.
We'll be chatting about how AI is transforming ecommerce and how ecommerce managers can implement AI and automation for their online stores. So stay tuned to learn more about AI, automation, personalization, and how they fit with your business goals.
Surya, thank you so much for being on The Ecomm Manager Podcast. Today's topic is, it's a big one. Everybody talks about AI. We're all deep into the ChatGPT revolution. And I want to help ecomm professionals make sense of it. And I think you are the perfect person to do that. Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do with DeepIdea Labs.
Surya Sanchez: Yeah. Sounds good. Thanks Francois for having me. So yeah, my name is Surya. I'm the founder of DeepIdea Lab, which is an IT consultancy focusing automating other B2B businesses. So we really focus into, automation AI recently, even though we have been using AI for the last two years. But you know, now with the jump of ChatGPT, it's becoming really a big way, especially for the public.
Everybody's like jumping into AI. I want to include AI in my business and everything. So yeah, I'm happy to talk about it and including automation as well, because it's a big part.
Francois Marchand: Of course. Yeah. There's a twofold aspect to this, aI is a big buzzword right now, but automated processes have been part of software in ecommerce and other areas of business for a number of years.
They're evolving, so maybe we can start talking about transformation of the industry through automated processes and AI. So can you break it down a little bit, how you've seen that evolution happen and some of the benefits that it's brought to businesses, specifically in ecommerce?
Surya Sanchez: Yes, for sure. So I wouldn't say it's like a really big, if like a big chance, like you're not going to shop with a robot, on your side. It will be implemented slowly and it will be behind the door.
We will not really notice. It would just make the algorithm better, like, let's talk about Amazon. The algorithm will be a little bit better and you'll be like, Oh, this, I want a bit more, but it's not like you will talk to an AI in front of your computer with no interaction with human. So it should be slowly running out, implementing the processes.
Francois Marchand: Yeah. Can you give me examples of processes that have been changed in recent years through AI and automation?
Surya Sanchez: Sure. It would be more about the team first. So how the business itself are working is much more efficient. So let's say you have like a refund, instead of copy pasting a snippet, because this is usually how the support in handling requests is, Okay, so notice there's like a refund request.
They will use this template, this snippet, and then send it. Instead of doing that, you can implement automation and AI, even better AI, to understand the context of the request, let's say a refund. And then you can either generate the answer, so that's then AI will reply directly or just point it to the correct team.
So it's like a between human and AI collaboration. Let's say we analyze this email because the refund, if you just want to match it with a keyword refund, but if you say, give me my money back, this is also a refund request. Then we can analyze the content of the email or the message and then point to the correct team and then a human could handle requests.
Francois Marchand: So in this case, we're talking about like email workflows or chatbots or things like that are improved with artificial intelligence. The AI can sort through the information and assign it to the right team. So it helps maximize, the amount of time that's spent on certain tasks, right? But it's not going to replace a customer service team.
Surya Sanchez: No, it will not replace completely. It will be like a part of the team. And if we now not talk about customer service because there are other aspects of ecommerce businesses. Like we are more into a B2B, so B2B ecommerce is not like only one click shopping.
Sometimes you know, you have estimate, you have quotes and stuff, you have relation with the client. You also have a sales team at any way you have to handle, you know, for example you have asset online and you want to get a quote. Then you will fill up a form. And then instead of just waiting two days to have a reply from the commercial team, you can already pre-generate or like pre-reply to the client, like, Oh, thank you for your message.
I understand that you want to get a quote from this asset or this one. So you can really understand the clients and the clients is know that it's like AI, but will feel confident that the request will be replied very fast by a human.
Francois Marchand: Yeah, tell me how DeepIdea Lab has helped implement some of these processes for B2B businesses.
Surya Sanchez: Sure. So DeepIdea Lab, we are focusing to B2B but also generally ecommerce. Most of the time it's more internal process. For example, you have a team doing the sales and then you have the accounting team. And it's very common that, the salespeople are really into selling. And then when the deal is won, when it's done, they really, like move into the next contact, next lead.
And then, it could have a little delay sending the invoice for prepayment. For example, know, the fulfillment, if it's about selling assets online, it will delay. I don't say it will delay depending on the efficiency of the business, but maybe a few hour or maybe a day. And with AI or if just talking about automation can automate the invoice generation.
So for example, when the, we take any CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot, and then when the opportunity or the deal is won, then you can auto generate the invoice and then send it to the client and doing like a really big pipeline. For example, if you manage assets in a warehouse, can, for example, already allocated assets to the clients so it will not be sold to someone else.
And you can really increase the efficiency of your own team. So with automation and AI, you will be able to scale your business up without hiring so much people right now.
Francois Marchand: That helps for, any level of enterprise that needs the extra assistance, but you know, might be in the process of hiring someone.
But they need that extra help right now. You talked about HubSpot integrations. I feel like a lot of the commercial platforms nowadays have a certain or a high level of automation. Is that correct?
Surya Sanchez: It is more or less correct. The thing is, if we talk about HubSpot, it's also a business and they want to push into their own plugging, their own other tool that they sell. For example, they have a sales platform. The thing is, every business is different and you're probably using other software. If you're like into, let's say rental, B2B ecommerce, then you will use a certain type of software. And HubSpot, for example, will not handle this kind of automation because it's very niche.
So there we come and we help connecting all the two together, automating the thing is like the glue between the application, and we do that. And in case we can also include AI. But I really believe if we can already achieve so much with automation, we don't have to include AI from the ground up. We can already do that later on.
Francois Marchand: Right. So AI becomes a bonus, right? It's not the business operation. It's run by the robots that you still need the humans to do all the work? You need the humans to, ideate what the product is, how you're going to sell it, who you're selling it to.
Let's talk about some practical steps that businesses can take to decide do they need to start implementing AI and automation in their ecommerce operations, particularly for smaller businesses that are thinking, Hey, I could probably save myself a lot of work, some money and some time by implementing processes like that.
Surya Sanchez: Yeah. So this is very great to leverage AI and automation, especially for small to medium businesses, because they don't have the resource to hire a full time employees so they want to have like a cheaper AI. The thing is what I would suggest really the steps to go.
It's first like make processes because it's really often, you open this ecommerce store and you just try to sell it and then you have the first sales and then the second one and then you grow, but you didn't really streamline processes. So that's really the first step before thinking about AI, before thinking about automation is what are your processes.
Let's say a process could be get order and then I have to ship it, and then when you ship it, what do you do? Oh, you need a tracking number. Oh, actually this is including the process. So you can really write let's say SOP documentation, standard operation procedure documentation about what's my processes. It's really often happen to us when we work with clients and then we have like a, we do like an audit to the team and we notice that each person from the team is working differently.
Then we have to decide, okay, but who has the most efficient way of working? Because the thing is, we will not automate something randomly. We want to automate the best way. So we will ask everybody from the team, look, you're handling this refund this way. And the other person is handling that way. Which one is the best? We have to decide with the founder, with the management team, et cetera. And then when we decide what's the best process then we can start automating it.
So automating it is checking if there are API available. API stands for application, I don't remember, process interface whatever. But basically it's a way to connect tool together, connect software together, connect your ecommerce to using Shopify, and then you use this order allocation or your tracking number software. So check if you have API enabled. Most of the ecommerce software are using API, of course.
And then after that, you want to think your process, this process is taking a lot of time because a human need to interact, a human need to think, to use reasoning. When you have to think, then it means you can use AI. And some only at that point, if it's about, we have a email that we receive for a quote, you don't really need to use AI in the beginning.
You can make, for example, you get a quote, that's really classic example. You have a form on the website with a quote for asset that you want to get the price. And then you want to save this lead into your CRM. So you don't need to use AI for that. You can just automate when the person register his name or whatever, and then you have it into your pipeline in the CRM so the sales team can, reach out.
Francois Marchand: That makes sense. I mean, there's opportunities, especially with the big platforms to create your own APIs. Now we're talking to, different levels of expertise here. So a small, medium, even an enterprise company doesn't necessarily have someone that can build an API to automate the processes that they've identified saying, okay, there's a gap here that needs some reasoning or needs intelligence, an intelligence process to come into play.
So who builds APIs for businesses?
Surya Sanchez: So, we can.
Francois Marchand: I knew you're going to say that.
Surya Sanchez: Also already the tool usually have API ready to use for if we talk about HubSpot, they have an API that could really be API with a lot of functionality. So most of the time our job is to connect the API together.
Francois Marchand: I see what you mean. Okay. So how can you strike a balance between automating and maintaining that personalized human touch? I think that's what people think about when they think of artificial intelligence is that it replaces the human voice with a robotic voice. That's not what we're talking about here because when we talk about automation, we're talking about internal processes.
Little things that can be done and linked together through machine learning. But people think about AI in kind of a scary way. That's okay, right? So yeah, striking that balance between automation and human. How can we do that?
Surya Sanchez: So in my opinion, we will not be replaced by AI. We will really work together like the human touch and the AI together.
So, for example, if you want to handle a refund, the AI can direct to the correct team and even like pre-fill your email. Because to be honest, if you check how big customer support team are working, it's almost like less empathy than AI. For example, if someone wants to refund that, just copy paste.
And then when you copy paste, even as a human, you don't feel like empathy from the customer. And even you don't really understand the problem because sometimes like yeah, I want to have a refund. It doesn't work. So maybe you don't want to give a refund. Maybe you want to give a, like a guide. How does this work,
so this AI will for sure not do any mistakes. For example, where you have a lot of human mistake, you can use AI to not do this kind of mistake. And it's a combination, we will not be replaced by them. It will be together and our job will be, will shift into a better thing. So for example, I already saw when we implemented automation or AI into company, to be honest, I was a little bit afraid that some employee would be fired because of our work.
But what happened in practice is they were not fired, but the business were able to give to this employee all the tasks. So if we talk about accounting, yeah, we could automate 90% of all the invoices. Imagine if you have accounted to just doing that, and then you have a lot of order, every day, and then we automate that.
What does accountant do? Well, the person is not fired. You will just analyze better and, reply to the customer, take more time, and it will be possible for the accountant to handle in the more human way. So I actually think that with AI, we will be able to be more human.
Francois Marchand: Yeah. I think you just hit on something very important here is that, using the tools to assist, let's say you're a business operator and you have a team of employees in different departments, and you have new AI processes that help them do their work better. That frees up some of their time to do more human work, not just, typing away and filling out forms, for example, or, menial tasks that can just be automated. Then they can do better work.
Surya Sanchez: Yes, exactly. For example, ChatBot could be a good example where you have just a chat. And instead of waiting, a few hours or days for the customer support to reply to you, you have an answer right now. And in the past, chatbots were very, like you have to put the right keyword and everything.
And if you miss a keyword, you just say, I don't understand you. And with now AI, you can really talk like a natural language, like in English or whatever language you speak, even maybe with voice later. And it can really make you understood. As a practical example that makes you laugh a little bit, but this interview was actually handled 50% by AI.
So I got, the question and everything, and then AI replied to you very fast. But then, look, you're not talking to AI now. We're talking human to human. So I could delegate, the human thing about the replaying, the email, the pre-screening and all the calendar thing. Now we can really focus on our purpose, which is like a discussion between two humans.
Francois Marchand: And full disclosure, I also used AI to help me prepare for this interview. I did some research in preparing questions using ChatGPT and refining some of these questions to be more personal, right, more human between you and I Surya. And it's helped me focus my time in other areas where it saved me time.
So AI isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for businesses, even for creators and, producers like us. It's super helpful, so let's embrace it as much as we can. Sure, there's some scary stuff about AI when we get into other areas, but for business processes, creative processes, it can make your work easier.
It can make your work better. And it's going to continue evolving with the help of people like Surya, who's implementing processes for companies, B2B and ecommerce.
Tell me Surya, what are some of the emerging trends, advancements in AI and automation that could, potentially revolutionize ecommerce in the coming years, like things that are not necessarily on our radar just yet, but you hear about happening in the background.
Surya Sanchez: It's a good question. The thing is what I will tell you, it's probably just guessing because we never know, who would guess that ChatGPT would happen this year. This is really something new. What I would say that's in my opinion, maybe we will be shopping through chats.
So for example, you can see that ChatGPT has some plugging, to say, I want to cook for example, personally, I'm a, I'm vegan. So I eat plant based thing and I could ask, Oh, I want to do my grocery shopping for this week as a vegan eater. And then automatically shop the ingredients without me to think, Oh, I need like a zucchini or whatever. Also, maybe you saw the, I read the Apple conference, but we can do something with the Apple Vision Pro.
So that's the augmented reality, maybe in the future, we'll be shopping, with images like visual search or something like this, but more or less to be something in other way that just clicking could be maybe with the eyes, maybe with audio, we don't really know. Sometimes you have technology that is working very well in some countries and some other.
One of the things that AI could really help businesses is to predict that predict analytics. This is not only AI. It could be on the sub machine learning. But to predict like a forecast, what kind of assets I'm talking about Christmas, is there like, when you have a lot of order, do you need something like this that would be more internal to not be like a robot is more like an algorithm helping you in your business.
Francois Marchand: Yeah, I think that's all like wonderful advice. If you're an ecom manager, you want to keep an eye on how AI is shaping up in the business world, with changes that are coming and look at what's happening right now.
Look at processes within your company that you could be automating, that you could be using AI for to improve not just sales performance, but also, your team performance. Look at those gaps, find those APIs that you could be building maybe with the help of someone like Surya or by using, the toolkits that the platforms provide you to build those yourself.
Surya, it's just been so enlightening to talk to you about AI in B2B and ecommerce about what's happening now, what's happening in the future. But what's your number one piece of advice for an ecommerce manager today?
Surya Sanchez: Good points. I think the number one is to open your eyes and don't be afraid to embrace new tool.
So a lot of people are very afraid, to change any process, especially if the business is going well, because we have SEO, you have new software. But try to implement a little bit of new technology because otherwise your competitors will do.
Francois Marchand: That's true. Very succinct, very to the point. Your competitors are looking at those tools. You should too. Surya, where can we follow your work? If we want to get in touch with you, if we want to read about what you're up to or listen to you on, on the internet, let me know.
Surya Sanchez: Yeah. So you can Google me Surya Sanchez on my business, DeepIdea Lab. You can find me on LinkedIn, on Twitter. Yeah, that's it.
Francois Marchand: Thank you so much for being on The Ecomm Manager Podcast, Surya. Again, congratulations on your work with DeepIdea Lab. And we also did a very cool little interview that you can find on The Ecomm Manager website, where we talked about choosing the best platform for ecommerce and how to decide which one works best for you. And I think you mentioned some automation tips in that interview as well. So check that out at theecommmanager.com.
And on that note, I want to thank you, the listener for tuning in to this episode of The Ecomm Manager Podcast. If you liked what you heard today, don't be shy, leave us a review, let us know how we're doing. Use an AI tool if you need to write that review, if it helps you. It's all good, because your support and feedback are much appreciated. And subscribe to the podcast, don't forget, that way you'll be the first to know when we drop a new episode in your feed.
Until next time, I'm Francois, this was Surya, I wish you all the best in your ecommerce journey. We'll see you next time!