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Deciding which AI tools to Invest In Based on Cash Flow

Deciding which AI tools to Invest In Based on Cash Flow

by 
Luca Borreani
 | 
December 15, 2023

Partner: Viably | Author: Jordan Watts - Jordan is the Growth Marketing Specialist at Viably and writes about financial technology, ecommerce, marketing, and more. 

Deciding which AI tools to Invest In Based on Cash Flow  

As the capabilities of artificial intelligence expand and a greater number of tools become available for ecommerce businesses, AI services are rapidly becoming a necessity in order for sellers to maintain a competitive edge. In just the last few years AI has transitioned from a relatively cinematic concept of uncanny robots to the learning technologies and algorithms that today provide incredibly complex and useful services for ecommerce businesses. AI tools can save you time and money but they can also help scale your business, drive sales, improve customer relationships, and more. It’s clear that AI has the potential to be a huge boon for your ecommerce business, however, it’s important to understand that like all great tools, it comes at a price. 

AI tools are an investment in the growth and success of your ecommerce business, helping to ensure that you don’t fall behind in increasingly saturated digital marketplaces. While there are useful AI tools available to ecommerce business owners at almost every price point, the most intentional and advantageous services come at a significant cost. In the long run, these AI tools can provide significant return on investment, but only if they’re leveraged effectively after the initial investment. For ecommerce businesses that operate on tight cash flow, this can be a struggle. 

Whether the tools you’re interested in require a large one-time purchase or charge a recurring subscription fee, money that isn’t immediately returning to the business can put serious pressure on your cash flow. That’s why it’s critical to do your research on which AI tools to invest in. In the long run this will help you understand what value those AI tools can bring to your business and to have a funding plan in place to cover the cost. 

How to decide which AI tools to invest in

Just like ecommerce marketplaces, the AI landscape is exploding. This means that, as a customer, you have the advantage of choosing between a wide variety of tools for your ecommerce business. However, it also raises the question: What should your business be looking for from potential AI tools to invest in? 

Before making a decision about which AI tools to invest in, consider the following: 

Challenges 

If you’re looking to add a new AI tool to your toolkit, it’s worth considering what problem you’re trying to solve or what work you’re trying to automate. Although it may seem necessary to have an AI tool for every aspect of your business, if you’re already comfortable and satisfied with results there’s no need to spend more money. However, if your ecommerce business is overspending on customer service representatives then it might be worthwhile to invest in a customer service chat tool, or if you’re dissatisfied with the rate at which you’re scaling you might consider using an AI tool that optimizes advertising. 

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for AI tools to invest in, it should help solve a challenge your ecommerce business is facing. Defining the problem helps you determine whether or not you need AI tools for your business, but it will also begin to help you narrow down your requirements for a new solution that aligns with your business needs. 

Implementation 

A surefire way for money to go to waste in any business is by investing in tools or services that don’t get used. It’s smart to take into consideration how you’ll implement these AI tools and the resources needed for a smooth implementation, before you invest in a solution.  If a tool doesn’t integrate with the methods you’ve been using previously, requires extensive training or configuration, it could potentially decrease adoption. Create a plan for exactly how you intend to use AI tools that you’ve purchased, guaranteeing that you will actually get the best possible return on investment. 

Less intuitive AI tools will also require a greater time commitment for implementation, lengthening your time to value. While some tools may still be worthwhile for your ecommerce business, ensure that you’re confident in the tool and the benefits its features will bring. 

Additional Features 

Although they’re not the top priority, the fancy bells and whistles that come along with a solution can be useful in determining which AI tools to invest in. While your top priority should continue to be finding something that solves your problem effectively and at the lowest possible cost, additional features can help streamline your business, optimize cash flow, or even eliminate the need for another tool– saving you money in another area. 

The Cost of AI Tools to Invest In

AI tools to invest in come at a wide range of price points, from totally free to thousands of dollars monthly. Many of the most useful AI tools for ecommerce businesses are subscription-based services that start with a free version and require upgrades in order to get the maximum benefits and truly grow your business. Recurring expenses like this have the potential to wreak havoc on your ecommerce business’ budget if you’re not careful, making it crucial that you have a plan in place to cover AI tools you want to invest in. 

External Funding 

Many ecommerce businesses operate on razor-thin cash flow margins, meaning that there is typically very little cash actually available for use at a given moment. This means that paying for AI tools you hope to invest in can add an unexpected amount of pressure and even send you into a cash flow negative month. In order to avoid this, it’s smart to start building up a “cash flow buffer” that will help your business stay consistently in a healthy financial state, with capital available for opportunities, like new AI tools, that may arise unexpectedly. 

Funding partners, like Viably, are a great source of supplemental capital that can help you build up this cash flow buffer. With short-term working capital solutions, Viably can provide your ecommerce business with increased and expedited cash flow for AI tools to invest in for your business growth. 

In conclusion, there are many AI tools to invest in, but it’s important to understand which will have the best return on investment for your ecommerce business. Having a funding plan in place, especially with support from external funding providers, for these investments will allow your business to access and invest in the AI tools as necessary.

Luca Borreani
Luca Borreani
CMO & Co-Founder
Not Only A Chat, But a Human-Like AI Converting Visitors Into Buyers
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