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Analysis / eCommerce

Ecommerce Thrives On Chatbots, With Lessons For All Verticals

Chatbot

Ecommerce has proven to be a rapid adopter when it comes to chatbots. The segment is tied for second with IT (both on 13% and just behind education at 16%) when it comes to categories of bots built using cloud chatbot provider SnatchBot. The experience of the ecommerce market can provide some good pointers for any business looking to adopt chatbots, as well as for those within the sales industry.

With general interest rising fast since 2015’s discussions on conversational commerce, businesses from the largest, like eBay’s AI-powered ShopBot to the smallest are making use of bots. SnatchBot’s chatbot integrates with eBay, Skype, Messenger and many other platforms.

They talk to customers, help find out what the need and point them in the right direction. Just a gentle nudge from a bot can help boost the conversion of searches to sales and build a rapport with people who might not know what they want. Also, as ecommerce retailers look to use AI to boost customer engagement, the chatbot becomes a better delivery mechanism. Recommendations on a website and email are already largely overlooked by users, but if they get AI-powered recommendations from a chatbot, it provides a new angle and feels more personal.

Most stores use Facebook Messenger based bots to help reach out to their existing followers. The bots can help with choice, purchasing and even returns. That makes them a one-stop-shop for the store, reducing the demand for customer services and providing another way to shop for mobile-first buyers.

As chat moves to voice-based services through the likes of Amazon Lex, there is also the opportunity to talk to the customer in the way they prefer, or is most appropriate. For example, no one wants to shout at a virtual assistant on a crowded train or in the street. Covering all bases helps future-proof any ecommerce strategy.

Your Digital Shopping Buddy

From scripted bots to smart AI and natural language processing (NL) bots that pick out valuable information from a chat, the added value is huge. Bots are getting better at selling and offer more than leaving the customer to browse on their own. That digital concierge could become a highly valuable asset in years to come.

That’s as people start to rely on them, let them instantly handle the transaction side to speed things up and as they provide more suggestions that match what people want. Chatbots can also develop some personality, more like the company Twitter account than a bland shopping page, helping get across the image that the company is trying to present.

These and other ways that bots can help to sell provide clear measures of success for any retailer to test their bot against. With many retailers adopting bots, (estimates reckon that 80% will use on by 2020) those without have to be confident that their audience is not interested in using chatbots, or are likely to risk losing sales in the long term to brands that push their technology as faster, better ways to shop.

Ecommerce Bots Lead To Internal Chat

On the other side of the sales coin, Procurement is also taking a great interest in chatbots. Supply and demand will always meet in the middle, and it is inevitable that data from both types of bots combine to help the business present a joined-up approach to selling.

For example, if something is out of stock, the bot can link in a buyer to the conversation who might be able to find out if something will be available soon. For retailers that sell bespoke or high-ticket items, picking up a sale this way is a step up from a long line of abandoned carts.

Bots can help ecommerce businesses by making them more efficient and effective. Commerce chatbots need to be better tested and well rounded compared to typical conversational bots, with a focus on the sales goal, and providing the customer with what they want. Chatbot failures will do more damage to the business, than the user not being able to check out under their own steam.

Whatever your industry, chatbots are rapidly becoming a key part of the customer- or internal-facing landscape, as a key part of the AI and mobility landscape.

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Chris writes about augmented and virtual reality, chatbots, business, games and anywhere the miracle of technology will take us next.