E-commerce is one of the most customer-facing industries where direct personal experiences and social conversations define the brand value. With customers spending more and more time on the browser, messaging apps, and social media, e-commerce sales continue to surge.
It is a fiercely competitive industry, where the ultimate goal is to offer an optimum shopping experience. Aggressive marketing through social media campaigns, direct text messages, and promotional emails have taken over the e-commerce landscape. In the constant quest for innovation and direct engagement with customers, AI (Artificial Intelligence) driven chatbots have provided the perfect answer to conversational engagement with the customer.
Using NLP (Natural Language Processing) the chatbot can understand the customer needs instantly. The Conversational User Interface (CUI) automates customer service using pre-defined intelligent conversations that help answer questions and solve problems. What’s more, the ML (Machine Learning) capability of the chatbot learns iteratively from repeated customer engagements and keeps improving its customer support. The data collected during conversations help to understand customer behavior and preferences, for pushing personalized offers and bot responses. All in all, a win-win situation for chatbot use in e-commerce!
According to a report by Gartner, by 2020 more than 85% of customer interactions will be managed by AI without human involvement. As customers are faced with wider choices, lack of differentiation is creating confusion and delaying purchase decisions. By leveraging AI and a voice-based or hybrid conversational commerce, chatbot applications can revolutionize customer service, improve conversions, make relevant recommendations and offer a superior shopping experience.
The Game-Changers In E-commerce
In today’s always connected ecosystem, consumers look towards the internet for their needs of information, social engagement and purchases. E-commerce is based on this very premise of satisfying the digitally empowered consumer. However, the informed customer also has higher expectations of personalized service and instant 24/7 support. The e-commerce chatbots fill the gap with their ability to instantly simulate conversations and answer queries. Unlike other industrial applications of chatbots, in e-commerce, the chatbot can actually influence a unique or first-time website visitor to opt-in for registration and make a purchase, within all of 10 minutes!
The lightning-quick automated response to casual queries cements a one-to-one relationship with the customer, much faster and efficiently than humans. This power of chatbots in e-commerce fuels customer expectations for the enhanced shopping experience and longer customer lifecycles. Brand value is enhanced and new markets tapped for more and more product categories. Is it any wonder that chatbots have emerged as a powerful game-changer in an industry where “customer is king”?
What Does the E-commerce Chatbot Do?
E-commerce has witnessed the fastest and most revolutionary adoptions of the chatbot. The built-in AI can process a huge flow of information from millions of requests at the same time, for meaningful responses and product recommendations. Historical customer data or conversation data is analyzed to improve conversations and customer experiences. The deep learning technology recognizes pictures/images, product names, reviews, prices and so on, to offer instant comparisons to facilitate the buying process. Data sets are constantly refined for streaming analytics and customer intelligence, to provide the correct answers and satisfy new requests.
Although e-commerce has many options for customer engagement – contact forms, phone support, email, online chat – the chatbot is the most time-proven and convenient channel for instant answers.
From Visits To Conversions
Messaging apps help customers to engage with chatbots and human agents. E-commerce chatbots are another step forward, as they render commercial value. So you will come across the CUI in chatbots for e-commerce being referred to as conversational commerce.
The chatbot query-to-transaction trajectory
From the first moment that a visitor visits the website, the chatbot window opens to greet the customer. This is the primary touchpoint for a visitor checking the website or a repeat visitor on his first step to shopping. The chatbot moves on to ask the visitor what he or she is looking for, and how can the bot help. What’s interesting is that chatbots have their own unique names, and they introduce themselves by their name just as any customer support human agent would do. This puts the potential customer at ease and opens up the flow of conversation. The chatbot maps the customer journey for a satisfactory shopping experience, with the consumers willing to let the technology work for them.
Chatbots Drive Conversions in E-commerce
Chatbots use natural conversations to help speedup up decisions and convert website visits to transactions. Product suggestions based on the AI-powered customer intelligence result in higher conversions rates. By providing a tailored recommendation on actions and spends, and attribution modeling for conversions; chatbots help ensure a visitor or potential customer is not lost. As the entire process is automated, there is shorter time-to-market, resulting in higher customer acquisition and retention.
Conversational Commerce As Marketing Tool
The digitized conversational commerce improves customer experience by interacting directly with the customer at his convenience. Great customer experience equals higher brand perception. Chatbots can also make push notifications based on the conversation – a more personal and effective method when compared to bombarding the customer with irrelevant texts. E-commerce chatbots can deploy the right marketing tools and engage the shopper in real-time across various channels.. By helping the shopper walk the path to sales conversion, chatbots ensure more conversions and sales. Is it any wonder that the chatbot has emerged as the most effective, time-saving and cost-cutting marketing tool in e-commerce?
Longer Customer Life-Cycle
Moreover, the continuous engagement ensures a longer customer lifecycle thus minimizing shopping cart abandonment rates.
Chatbots Drive Revenues
By providing customer assistance for making purchases, and even upselling and cross-selling the product, the chatbots act as salesmen, or should we say sales bots? Based on previous transaction and order history, the chatbot uses conversational intelligence to suggest complementary products that the customer may like while placing the order. With higher conversion rates and lower costs per lead conversion, revenues are higher when using chatbots.
Challenges of Chatbot Implementation in the E-Commerce Industry
Chatbots are the perfect example of AI’s capability to respond to customers based on a given set of rules and functions. With more chatbot integration in e-commerce, the need to have access to multiple touchpoints is being felt. So the newer chatbots are being accessed through text messages, in-chat messaging or built-in messaging apps like the Facebook Messenger. With so many functionalities in e-commerce, you will thus come across dedicated chatbots serving niche demands of e-commerce visitors (we shall discuss this in forthcoming blogs).
E-commerce is a very dynamic platform with dozens to hundreds of products added every day, and categories constantly updated. So chatbots built for e-commerce need to deeply integrate the ERP, and CMS with the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) policy of the company. A chatbot’s ability to instantly find whether a product has arrived in stock that day, trace the status of backorders, track shipment and delivery schedules in real-time, is what makes it stand out.
Insights feed the cycle of conversions. Chatbots are thus faced with the challenge of providing data-driven insights from the conversations and customer behavior. This helps develop marketing strategies, tap new revenue streams or partnerships, recommend new products, innovate systems, capture fresh markets, and feed the next cycle of product development.
To be an effective tool, chatbots for e-commerce should have a technological advantage or an innovative feature that brings commercial value to the e-commerce company when rolled out. The chatbot window should display past messages, as in the What’s App messaging service. Most importantly, the chatbots should offer an easy-to-engage frictionless and contextual experience. It should do away with first-instant hurdles that make a customer feel stifled. For instance, many chatbots today begin with asking the user’s name, email, and phone number. Often this may seem an invasion of privacy for a casual wannabe shopper, who may close the browser or move away to another website.
In e-commerce, there exist many fine metrics that contribute to conversions and sales. The use of chatbots as a tool to power sales thus warrants a bot that understands e-commerce, is well unified with the whole system and can conduct chat with the finesse of a smooth-talking salesman!
As more customers turn to their mobile devices to chat and shop at the same time, a new trend of mobile e-commerce is emerging. Chat technologies like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo have paved the way for a mobile user to vocalize his wants more simply on-the-go. The sky is the limit for chatbot implementation in e-commerce businesses.