So you just received a pair of dress shoes you bought online, you unboxed it and notice that there were two left shoes. What most people would do next is to go through the tedious process of trying to contact customer service where they would either get put on hold or wait several days for a single email reply. In most cases, when you get put on hold you would be talking to someone overseas who does not even work for the company you wish to complain to about. After seemingly an endless amount of holding time, you finally got done talking with the customer service rep and you start to wonder if you should ever purchase an item from this brand again.
Which is where having chatbots would be highly beneficial. In a world of conversational commerce, chatbots would be able to provide customer service 24/7. This will not only save labor cost but also streamline the customer experience. When communicating with chatbots, customers will be prompted to input a series of information where the chatbot would then respond with answers that are designed to solve the issue that customers have. The trends in the fashion and apparel industry demonstrate that chatbots are necessary, as there are already a lot of success stories from the brands that we know. However, using chatbots also has some cons because they are still a very new artificial intelligence technology and it will take a few years for chatbots to become flawless.
Trends in the Fashion and Apparel Industry
As consumers become more conscious of the way we look, the fashion and apparel industry is booming. There are increasing amounts of designers that make their own apparel and they could separate themselves by providing better customer service.
We are currently in a world of endless commerce, brands are starting to dish out steep discounts throughout the year, and not just during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which results in a world where constant 24/7 conversation platforms between brands and consumers are necessary.
Retailers are starting to shift their focus from stores to e-commerce, as large department stores all around the world are shutting off their retail stores as they found that most of their sales are coming from online shoppers. For example, Macy’s plan on closing 68 stores while Sears also plans on closing 42 stores in early 2017 alone. Although e-commerce in the fashion and apparel industry and growing rapidly, a lot of companies do not have a strong online support system such as when there is a problem with an online order or when there is a problem with the stock count.
How Chatbots are Impacting the Brands You Know
Chatbot Fashion Advisor
Imagine a world whereby sending a few messages to your favorite clothing brand you can not only find out the story behind how the company started but also get a rating on how your outfit looks before purchasing the product. All of this is suddenly made possible with chatbots. Chatbots can provide customers with a one to one customer service experience where the chatbot will exchange messages with the customer when the customer asks a question.
Levi’s shopping bot acts as a virtual stylist which allows the customers to find their desired pair of jeans by asking for the customer’s desired fit, wash and even compares the fit with other jean companies. Levi’s chatbot is available on both their facebook messenger and their website which makes it accessible for different kinds of shoppers. This one-to-one service comes close to replicating how a retail experience is and demonstrates how chatbots can save a lot in labor cost while providing a more convenient way for shoppers to buy.
Burberry chatbot is one of the most sophisticated technologies among fashion brands. They not only provide their customers with a chance to buy pieces from their latest collection through their chatbots, but also allows you to connect to a customer service representative, a consultant and store locator. Burberry also does a great job at using their chatbot as a marketing with how they send push notifications to their loyal customers to watch their latest live fashion show through a link provided by their chatbot.
Aerie by American Eagle Outfitters is another clothing brand that has been successful with using chatbots. It makes a lot of sense for them to implement this new technology because their target audience is usually 15-24 year olds. Aerie specifically selected Kik as their chatbot platform allows users to browse products based on personal preference. However, they are able to provide a unique feature in the THIS or THAT option. There were immediate results within weeks since they launched their Kik chatbot which acquired more than double the monthly users across all of Aerie’s social media platforms.
Pros and Cons of Chatbots in the Fashion Industry
Even though chatbots are being successfully implemented for a lot of fashion brands such as Burberry, Levi’s and Aerie, they are still a product that will take a while to perfect. Chatbots are very helpful in providing simple answers and suggestions based on the way you design and structure your chatbot. However, when you input information that the chatbot does not recognize the chatbot will become confused and you will end up in an endless loop of questions and answers. If you’re lucky you’ll be transferred to a human assistant, however most chatbots don’t have this feature.
However, there are a lot of advantages to having a chatbot for your fashion business. By implementing a chatbot, a company has a chance to save money, increase brand awareness and expand their customer touchpoints because of the Chatbot’s ability to provide answers in a timely manner without having to learn new information.
Cost-efficient. Deploying a chatbot is way more cost efficient by enhancing customer service and support so they can impact larger numbers of customers at once.
Pre-Trained. Chatbots come pre-trained and are ready to tackle customer inquiries on day 1. Whereas you would have to train a customer service representative to answer questions or respond in a certain way.
Increase brand awareness. Chatbots provide brands an opportunity to reach customers on various social media such as Facebook messenger and Kik. It’s up to brands to build a satisfying customer experience to directly to online commerce.
Strengthen customer engagement. Chatbots not only introduce first-time customers to a brand but it can also link customers to different brand-related events or entertainment such as how Burberry links their customers to their live fashion shows. Chatbots can make a user’s online shopping experience more engaging and fun.
Instant Answers. Chatbots are able to answer questions more quickly compared to an in-store employee. They can strike up a conversation with any customer about any issue at any point during the day and they only give out bits of digestible information at a time.
Although chatbots are still prone to errors and are clearly still in the developing stages, they are slowly becoming more mainstream in the fashion industry. Chatbots are proving to be a way for companies in the fashion industry to get a leg up on their competitors with the way chatbots are able to provide 24/7 customer service and increase brand engagement. In a world dominated by continuous commerce and the use of artificial intelligence, we can only expect that chatbots will soon be our go-to stylist in the near future.