Why Your Ecommerce Store Needs A Chatbot… Now
In an increasingly globalized environment where companies are struggling to offer products/services in different time zones with localized flavors, the cost of maintaining live customer support can be prohibitive — yet with UX standards continuing to improve, customers expect more than ever before. How can you meet this demand?
Well, while there are companies that opt for the massive financial commitment of providing 24-hour customer service, there is a much more efficient option that allows you to field customer complaints and queries no matter where they are or when they need help: a chatbot.
Through installing and configuring a chatbot, you can provide an always-on support service that doesn’t need human attention at all times, allowing you to operate much more efficiently. And that level of convenience makes chatbots perfect for ecommerce. In fact, I’d say your ecommerce store needs a chatbot — and I’m going to tell you why.
Chatbots improve UX and CX
Navigating an ecommerce website of any size can be tricky, with a plethora of choices on offer than can easily lead a shopper to become confused or even overwhelmed. A chatbot can help restrict these choices within a defined range, and recommend alternative products/promotions to match the customer’s interests without needing them to make decisions.
Some companies use chatbots to take their overall user experiences to the next level — instead of displaying all possible choices, they configure their sites to begin conversations with the visitors and direct them accordingly. This kind of conversational chatbot is by far the most ambitious type for an ecommerce site, with many UX challenges to overcome, but technology gets more advanced every year. Soon enough, those challenges will be gone.
Chatbots never sleep
Chatbots are available 24/7, and never need time off. They can also seamlessly multi-task with no disruptions or slowdowns. A single chatbot can channel customer queries in a structured manner, help companies promote certain products for their marketing campaigns, and make customers aware of offers and promotions when relevant.
A report from Drift suggests that most customers prefer effective chatbots for their 24-hour availability. Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular on Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, Kik, and other messaging platforms, and many brands are using them to improve communication with their audiences.
Chatbots improve brand loyalty
Chatbots are also very effective for improving brand loyalty. Bots that offer personalized suggestions (in a non-spammy, non-pushy way), acknowledge the shopper’s intent, and appreciate their choices tend to boost customer allegiance to the brand.
A chatbot can give each customer the ultimate personal shopping experience — answering their queries straight away, doting on them, suggesting different products, and sometimes even throwing in a compliment or two.
And since they know they’re not dealing with real people with personal opinions about their purchasing preferences, customers can be more open and specific about their requirements. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
Chatbots are the future
With people increasingly using messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger instead of dedicated social networking websites like Instagram, messenger chatbots are becoming greatly more convenient for shopping. In fact, 37 percent of all consumers — and 48 percent of millennials — are open to receiving recommendations or advice from chatbots.
Think about the dangers of being left behind. Ecommerce design is becoming increasingly homogenized (as reflected by the website flipping trend, with a range of businesses for sale in the online marketplace without much to separate them), and coupled with common supply chains making profit margins difficult to shift, it heralds a difficult path ahead for stores that have so far relied on having solid fundamentals or good prices. Your store needs a unique edge
Here are some ecommerce sites that are using chatbots to change the way users shop:
eBay launched Shopbot, a chatbot that allows customers to look for items at the price they want. By answering simple questions and filling out details about the product, eBay will find you the perfect item in a matter of seconds.
Using Shopbot has since proved to be a more efficient way to search for a product than actually browsing through the actual eBay website. Customers are more inclined to go directly to the chatbot, as searching for their desired product is a time-consuming process. Shopbot drives customers to not only buy more but also purchase additional items they don’t really need.
American Eagle Outfitters
American Eagle Outfitters (a lingerie company), decided to launch a chatbot called Aerie in the winter of 2016. First rolled out on Kik, it has been a huge success with AEO’s target market which mostly consists of late-teens and millennials.
The “Aerie Real” campaign for providing positive body imagery without any filters or retouching was a huge success, and it was closely tied into the chatbot, which was also equipped to give helpful tips about sizing and fitting for all types of customers.
Later, AEO came out with a second chatbot — the AEO Holiday Gift Guide Bot, which prompted customers to take a quiz and find their ideal presents for the holidays. Questions asked whom they were shopping for, their gender, and what their interests wee.
Yes, it’s true! Even high-end fashion brands use chatbots, and Burberry has had a chatbot for Facebook messenger since 2016. This high-fashion luxury brand uses its chatbot to give customers the best tips and advice on the latest fashion trends.
Burberry’s “see now buy now” chatbot is an innovative concept in the high-fashion industry. It not only allows you to browse the newest collections Burberry has to offer, but it also invites you to watch runway shows live and thus get invested in upcoming products and collections.
When there’s an upcoming fashion line shortly to become available, the chatbot will notify customers and start to build up hype. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Burberry’s customer awareness has been on an incline ever since the chatbot came out.
H&M has a useful chatbot for Kik that helps a customer create a personal profile for his or her style. The data taken from various photo questionnaires and quizzes helps the chatbot create a comprehensive style with the products that the customer is most likely to be interested in.
The ecommerce site wins sales through the chatbot giving helpful fashion advice and helps customers stay on trend using the data collected. The chatbot can also create personalized outfits for a customer, encouraging them to buy more products than they planned to.
While makeup is a commodity that is best bought after being sampled (especially with the advice of a Sephora associate), Sephora’s chatbot on Kik asks personalized questions about customers’ makeup preferences, and picks the perfect products to suit. The chatbot mimics an in-house sale associate, sharing videos, photos, and useful tips.
Sephora also launched a virtual makeup artist called the Sephora Virtual Artist on Facebook that allows people to try on different lip colors by taking selfies and uploading them. After selecting the item, the chatbot enables the user to purchase the product via the Sephora app.
A chatbot is no longer an “additional” resource for ecommerce sites — it has become an essential component. Its simple and intuitive technology lures customers to come back for more. Setting up a chatbot to collect accurate personalized data is a one-time investment with relatively-low incremental costs and a big return on your investment.
After all, chatbots not only drive sales but also learn from customer interactions to make the ecommerce experience more user-friendly. If you want your ecommerce store to stay relevant in today’s marketplace, the conclusion is unavoidable — you need a chatbot!
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.