How AI is transforming eCom: an interview with Oliver Edholm

AI will create the biggest change in human history. And as far as e-Commerce goes, the possibilities are endless. To explore the new era of e-Commerce, we sat down with Oliver Edholm, Founder & CEO of Depict, to talk about AI-led visual merchandising, the shift towards stories and collections, how to avoid digital sameness, and much more.

Hi Oliver, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi NoA Ignite! I’m the Founder and CEO of Depict. We are a startup based in Stockholm that aims to enable any retailer online with the AI tools that Amazon, Asos, and the likes are using to succeed with commerce online.

I started coding when I was 8 years old, and it has been my passion since then. The traditional route of schooling was nothing for me, so I dropped out and got a job as an AI engineer at Klarna when I was young. While at Klarna, I had the idea for Depict. I saw the huge discrepancy between the AI leveraged by the huge retailers, and how the smaller ones could not keep up.

You are the Co-Founder and CEO of Depict. What is your vision behind the company?

To democratize great digital experiences for fashion retailers. There is a huge gap in the market today, the giants have completely different resources in terms of capital, employees, and engineers to enable great experiences online.

That is why we work with novel AI models to automate the tasks that e-commerce managers and merchandisers face every day. It is so rewarding to see a team of two people in an e-commerce team leverage our product and operate as if they have 10 or 20 people.

"Collection-driven merchandising is our own term for what is happening in online retail right now. The best retailers online are already doing it."

Artificial intelligence is creating the biggest change we've seen in human history. What possibilities will AI unlock for e-commerce?

Where to start? I think AI will change e-commerce completely. We have just seen the beginning so far.

Amazon introduced the recommendation engine 10-20 years ago, which revolutionized relevant shopping experiences online. They were able to develop these algorithms by having huge amounts of data, so there were only a few actors that could leverage these algorithms.

Now, with the advancements we have seen in the field over the last 12 months, there are so many use cases available to anyone in online retail. Areas that are top of mind for us are intelligent inventory management, automated SEO-work, and content generation.

What is collection-driven merchandising, and how is it the future of commerce?

Collection-driven merchandising is our own term for what is happening in online retail right now. The best retailers online are already doing it. If you look at sites such as Zalando, Net-a-porter, and Care of Carl, they lead with stories and collections. Depict’s analogy to understand what is happening is looking at how Spotify revolutionized how we listen to music. The playlist is in focus, it is not the album anymore. The playlist, and the collection, are more intuitive and human.


A challenge with AI will be to avoid the trap of digital sameness caused by auto-generated content and deep fakes. What are your thoughts on the role of human craft and creativity connected to AI?

That is a really good question and something we think a lot about. Digital sameness would be a sad outcome of what is currently happening in AI for retail. Therefore, we aspire to build features that amplify the human touch and intelligence. It should never replace it.

We want Generative AI to assist the artists, not replace them. If you think about it, that is how ChatGPT works today. You, as the art director, have to prompt the model on what it should produce. So to avoid digital sameness, we focus on the production, not the direction. This will enable creative merchandising teams to brainstorm, experiment, and lower the cost of their efforts.

"Multi-modality of GPT
models will unlock vast
amounts of capabilities
for retailers, especially
in the fashion and
lifestyle segment."


Glimpsing into the future, what are you most excited about?

Multi-modality of GPT models, meaning it can not just input text but also images. This feature will unlock vast amounts of capabilities for retailers, especially in the fashion and lifestyle segment.

Before we wrap it up, is there any book or article on the topic you recommend people to read?

Superintelligence has been my favorite book for many years. Nick Bostrom is a Swedish-born philosopher, and discusses the hypothetical scenario where machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence. I think the book serves as a comprehensive introduction to the topic of AI, and is a call to action for researchers, ethicists, and policymakers to take the issue seriously and collaborate on solutions for the future. We want AI to be the best thing that has happened to humanity, and I think Bostrom’s book is essential to guide us on that path.