Summary (TL;DR): In this article, we’ll explain why a chatbot is essential to an e-commerce store and cover important points like availability, personalization, resources, customer support, brand engagement, and more. Read on to learn more.
Artificial intelligence is transforming how brands interact with their customers and 40% of internet users now prefer to interact with chatbots rather than humans.
It’s not just tech companies that are using chatbots. You can now use a chatbot to buy a coffee, book a plane ticket and make an appointment with your doctor. The annual growth of chatbot use in eCommerce is predicted to be29.7% with the value of the market reaching $9.4 billion by 2024.
Customers want efficiency and accessibility, and online retailers are building apps for e-commerce platforms that feature chatbots to meet demand. But chatbots can offer e-commerce enterprises a lot more than just happy customers. If you want to improve sales and revenue, maximize resources and create outstanding customer experiences, then a chatbot is essential.
The Rise of the Chatbot
These days chatbots and AI are everywhere. Utility providers, social media, healthcare, airlines, and coffee shops are but a few of the sectors that have invested in chatbot technology.
Chatbots are used for endless purposes be it lead generation, answering those frequently asked questions (FAQs), or payments and processing. However, chatbots are mostly used in customer service.
Customers like interacting with chatbots because, when they function effectively, they combine efficiency and conversational marketing. They want to be able to communicate with enterprises around the clock without having to wait in a call hold queue or for a response via email.
Chatbots meet those needs but can also hand over a customer to a human when necessary.
Enterprises also benefit from chatbots because they simplify communications with customers. Chatbots help maximize resources, increase revenues, encourage brand engagement, and lead to a higher customer satisfaction rating.
Users are already familiar with chatbot interactions on social media and in customer service environments. However, as chatbot adoption in online retail increases, customers are also demonstrating a willingness to purchase items via chatbots too.
This makes chatbots a viable and beneficial option for e-commerce retailers if they wish to engage with their customers who enjoy communicating with AI in an online retail situation.
Chatbots in E-Commerce
Chatbots are no longer the sole domain of high-tech companies. e-commerce brands are jumping on board, integrating chatbots as part of their wider marketing strategies to communicate with their customers and increase revenue.
An MLOps company may have always used AI as part of its machine learning engineering, but now, many online retailers have also adopted AI to help them get to know their customers, from their browsing habits to their purchasing patterns. This data can then be used to build a wider picture of their consumer base and help them to tailor their sales and marketing strategies to meet individual customers’ needs.
It’s that personal touch that can make the difference for customers and, combined with their demand for efficient and timely responses, chatbots are the ideal tool to meet the needs of retailers and customers.
Depending on a retailer’s needs, and the needs of their customers, an e-commerce chatbot could be designed to:
- answer FAQs,
- offer product recommendations,
- help a user find more detailed answers to product queries,
- help a buyer to complete their purchase,
- lead generation,
- provide customer support.
Chatbots can be used in collaboration with other touch points such as call centers, social media, and websites to provide multiple opportunities for users to communicate with your brand and improve your website to generate better traffic. They use AI to learn customer preferences and offer visitors personalized experiences.
Why Is a Chatbot Essential in an E-Commerce Store?
Let’s look in more detail at 10 reasons why you should include a chatbot as part of your e-commerce store.
We live in a time-centric world. Standard opening hours are no longer the norm. Consumers want to be able to contact retailers at any time of the day and expect an immediate response.
You could invest in a 24-hour call center, choose a VoIP or landline, and hire the staff needed to run it, but the costs are staggering.
Chatbots are available 24/7 and can answer queries at any time of the day, be it a weekend or a national holiday. Plus, they can be programmed to remember users’ habits and can offer a personalized response, even if they are unable to answer a specific question that may require the customer to be passed to a human.
Customers don’t want to linger in call queues or wait for an email. A chatbot is a perfect solution to provide customer service around the clock.
Combined with answering questions or providing guidance, a chatbot should be programmed to learn from users. This enables them to generate personalized responses and customize future conversations with individual customers.
Chatbots can also use these interactions and purchasing habits to tailor product recommendations for each customer. Amazon is a great example of an online retailer that displays product recommendations based on past purchases and even recommends complementary products for those in your basket.
Chatbots are not limited to a single language. If retailers want to expand on a global scale, they need to incorporate a multilingual marketing strategy.
Personalization of the customer’s journey, from initial inquiry to post-purchase service, boosts engagement while guiding customers through the sales funnel.
3. Save Resources
Employing humans to handle all customer interactions is expensive. Why not install a chatbot to make your customer service more efficient and cost-effective? Avoid wasting resources and you may escape a similar fate as the high deployment cost of the 5G network.
Most users ask the same simple and repetitive questions. Using a chatbot to handle the FAQs will free up your human customer service officers to deal with the more complicated inquiries.
AI can answer multiple calls at the same time, unlike their human operatives, and provide much quicker response times. This saves time and money that could be used to help grow your business instead.
4. Customer Support
A well-designed chatbot enables two-way communication with the user at every step of the sales process.
I’ve already mentioned that chatbots can handle FAQs, and provide personalized product recommendations, but they can also guide the customer through their purchase, answer questions about delivery times and provide after-sales support.
Think of your chatbot as a centralized communication point that can provide a personal service and transfer the customer to a human counterpart if they cannot help. For example, a web construction company could use a chatbot to answer simple questions regarding the pros and cons of Wix versus WordPress, but if they want more detailed answers, they could pass the customer to a human operator.
5. Omni-Channel Marketing
Limiting your customer interactions to a single touchpoint reduces customer engagement.
These days users want everything to be easy and accessible via multiple platforms. Don’t forget that not everyone wants to speak to a human, and many don’t want to have to switch platforms either. If they are using an app to browse products, they should not have to switch to your website, and have to start their search again before they can make their purchase.
You can deploy your chatbot across all your platforms and allow your customers to browse and purchase on the platform they are using.
This omnichannel approach makes it simpler for today’s efficiency-seeking customers to engage with online retailers and streamline the purchasing process.
You can train your chatbot to become an expert regarding every product in your catalog.
Even the best human sales executive may not recall every detail about every product in your catalog, but AI can be easily programmed and will remember it all. For example, a customer may ask about the best free electronic signature software available. Within seconds a chatbot will supply links to all the options available. A human could not possibly collate all that information within the same timeframe.
Chatbots also provide consistent answers. Humans can differ in their responses to questions while a chatbot will provide the same answer for the same question every time.
Simplifying the buying process in this way boosts engagement rates and sales.
7. Brand Engagement
E-commerce chatbots encourage customers to connect with a brand.
If you design your chatbot with a customer-centric focus you demonstrate that you care about your customers and want to make their interactions not only efficient but enjoyable.
A customer support procedure limited to transferring callers to a voicemail service for business is likely to be perceived as a dead-end to their inquiry and consequently their relationship with your enterprise.
Your chatbot can be programmed to engage users with interactive tools such as images, gifs, and audio. These can help make your chatbot stand out from its dull or overly linguistic counterparts and make customer interactions fun and memorable. When customers enjoy their experience with you, they are more likely to recommend you to others.
Make your chatbot a brand ambassador that is designed to uphold your values as well as provide an engaging tool in your communications arsenal.
Not every customer will be satisfied and easy to please. Just like human operatives, chatbots can detect whether a customer is angry and can adapt their approach accordingly. However, a chatbot’s behavior will not be affected if a customer becomes aggressive.
Chatbots do not become defensive or emotional. They will not lose patience after sending an important email, but email tracking shows it has not been opened yet. Neither will they become stressed if they must answer the same question again and again.
This neutrality makes them the perfect employee. Just like human operatives, chatbots can be programmed to convey empathy and add the human touch to their interactions with customers, but they will never lose their temper.
9. Increase Sales and Revenue
Chatbots can be used to increase sales and revenue by:
Speeding up the sales process – chatbots can respond to product inquiries quickly, and the sooner a customer finds the item they are looking for, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Based on keyword searches, chatbots can also include any relevant add-on products and potentially increase the value of each sale as part of an effective upselling and cross-selling strategy.
Recommending products – if you want to promote a particular product you can use your chatbot to make suggestions or recommend items currently on sale.
Personalizing recommendations – as mentioned above, a well-designed chatbot will use customers’ browsing and purchase history to tailor product recommendations as part of their personalized sales advice.
Examining lost sales – Your bot can help you improve your service and exploit new opportunities by analyzing the sales that failed to process. Did a customer abandon their cart because the bot didn’t answer their questions? Are customers asking to speak to a human because their question was not listed in the FAQs? Are you not offering the latest products, forcing customers to look elsewhere?
If you know where you went wrong, you can make improvements to help reduce cart abandonment and boost sales. But how can you learn where the chatbot failed?
10. Feedback and Analytics
Your chatbot can be a valuable source of feedback and analytics that can be used to inform decision-making, diversify your product range, and improve customer service.
Use your chatbot to collect real-time data about user experiences like interaction with the chatbot, product preferences, their thoughts about the sales process, and their overall evaluation of the customer experience.
For example, if you learned multiple users left the chat because you did not stock a certain product, you could decide to include it in your catalog.
It’s important to use chatbot analytics to determine how users are interacting with your bot. Only then can you take corrective measures to ensure the chatbot is effective.
Combined with the right e-commerce platform, the most successful e-commerce bots are ones where retailers use analytics to review and adapt their bot’s performance to ensure it’s working well.
If you want to ensure your chatbot is working efficiently you should utilize user metrics. For example, gather data that shows how many users are new and how many are returning customers. You should also use message metrics that show the duration of the average interaction (this will help you determine engagement).
By choosing the right analytics you can measure the effectiveness of your bot and use the data to help improve your online store.
Don’t Miss Out
Enterprises across all sectors are investing in AI and chatbots to help them meet their customer’s needs. I can even use AI as an outline generator for my next web content article.
e-commerce chatbots can be used to offer round-the-clock accessibility, personalized service, and efficient customer support to help provide exceptional customer experiences.
Plus, e-commerce chatbots also provide valuable benefits to online retailers. Through chatbot analytics, companies can access real-time data to help them generate valuable feedback about the effectiveness of their chatbot which can be used to inform decision-making, increase revenues, and improve customer service.