Picture sales as they were before the digital age: print ads and public marketing campaigns enticed audiences to trickle into brick-and-mortar shops or make purchases out of catalogs and newspapers over the phone. At the advent of ecommerce, the possibilities for customer communication expanded ad infinitum. The touchpoints at which sales are made often outnumber the channels wherein products are listed. With so many avenues to choose from, making a purchase from a web-based business can make customers feel like they’re lost in a labyrinth.
The latest solution on the scene is the aptly termed “conversational commerce.” Messaging apps, whether on social media or online stores, allow representatives to reach out to customers in real time and deliver a completely personalized shopping experience. And with a chatbot sidekick, sales teams may be empowered to deliver the very best POS customer experience.
Chatbots as a technology are still in development, but businesses across the digital globe are already reaping its advantages. It’s in your organization’s best interest to implement this helpful feature as soon as possible.
What is a Chatbot?
In briefest terms, a chatbot is a messaging program designed to simulate human conversation. It is typically service-oriented, and most commonly used to support and answer inquiries at certain touchpoints during the customer journey. These touchpoints can include customer service, technical support, and sales and returns, among others.
Chatbots can be set up for cross-platform functionality. Online stores may have a number of in-built automated messengers, or they can be integrated as a feature on your shop’s social media pages.
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AI Chatbots vs Rule-based Chatbots for Ecommerce
There exist two main chatbot types which function under different parameters, and businesses must determine which is the best for their purposes.
- Rule-based chatbots are highly effective and efficient, however are limited in the types of inquiries they can receive, and commands they may respond to. These are best used when it is expected that the customer will only ask more simplistic queries. For example, basic rule-based chatbots will prompt customers to answer “yes” or “no” questions, or ask specific questions which users will answer in 2-5 words.
- AI chatbots are more complex, and are capable of simulating a person-to-person conversation with your customers. Machine learning enables these solutions to read and interpret plain-language customer inquiries, and respond appropriately. AI chatbots may also recognize a customer need beyond its own capacity, and refer or connect the customer to a human representative.
The Advantages of Chatbot Technology for Ecommerce
Think of a chatbot for your online store like a sales floor attendant in a brick-and-mortar shop. Some customers are content to browse on their own, without the aid of an attendant. But for others, this is the key to an enjoyable shopping experience.
One advantage of the chatbot is that it converts an otherwise anonymous and detached ecommerce encounter into a personalized one, making it useful for ecommerce growth strategies. The majority of customers want their experiences with online retail to feel custom-tailored just for them. And a chatbot can help to mitigate the dreariness of scrolling through product lists flanked by generic marketing content by delivering almost-human conversation and assistance.
The other major advantage of chatbots is access, and convenience. People love shopping through social media, be that Facebook, Instagram, or any number of other platforms. And customer connectivity allows online businesses to reach them where they are, with targeted ads and other marketing material.
But more than that, the consumer use of major messaging applications has surpassed that of social media, making it a rewarding and largely untapped resource for ecommerce businesses. And customers are increasingly willing to both receive customer service attention and make purchases through messaging platforms and chatbot proxies, thus expanding the horizons for ecommerce sales opportunities.
Leveraging Customer Service Chat for Sales
In this section you’ll find 3 examples of how real ecommerce businesses are using chatbots to support sales.
This cosmetics giant features an overwhelming number of products, formulated for every skin type, style, and flavor of human being imaginable. That’s why Sephora created a custom chatbot to help customers narrow down their shopping list. Visitors to Sephora’s web page are greeted by a chatbot who invites them to take a brief makeup quiz, including factors like skin sensitivity, color preferences, and the consumer’s makeup essentials. The bot then compiles a list of suggested products it thinks the customer will enjoy.
Along the same vein as the previous brand, H&M has implemented a chatbot which interviews consumers about their style and clothing preferences, and then provides them with a suggested shopping list based on their answers. Customers can compile “outfits” using the suggested items, and even vote on the outfits of other customers, providing everyone involved with a true dressing room experience.
Freddy is this food-box subscription’s customer support bot designed to make HelloFresh consumer’s shopping experience efficient and personal. Freddy’s main function is to assist customers in choosing the contents of their weekly food box. However the friendly chatbot goes above and beyond, reminding customers to complete their order, delivering the latest content from HelloFresh, and even suggesting Spotify playlists to keep customers entertained while they’re cooking.
Last Thoughts: Ecommerce Chatbot
As ecommerce continues to take over the world as the most popular method of shopping, chatbots will find themselves on the frontline of online retail, as the shopping assistants and customer service reps of the digital age.