If you’ve always had some interest in the technology world, and you’ve been around long enough. You’ll remember how odd and gimmicky chatbots used to be.
Chatbots were often presented eye-catching as contenders with the potential to beat the Turing test.
Even though they were essentially limited to:
- Asking vague questions
- Giving vague answers
- And adopting a clumsy tone of surrealism to cloak the fundamental lack of understanding.
It’s fascinating to look back on those times now in light of how dramatically things have changed since then.
- No longer gimmicks
- Chatbots have become staples of the online world,
- Used not for entertainment or prototyping but instead to improve sales and support systems.
These days people know what chatbots can and can’t practically do.
I mentioned sales and support systems, so there’s obvious relevance in the e-commerce field.
Suggested read: Why You Should Have A Chatbot For Your Ecommerce Business.
How Ecommerce Chatbots Improve Sales And Retention
1. Ecommerce chatbots extend sales opportunities to social platforms
The internet is a big place, so it’s tough for specific retailers to get noticed. So you must do everything to expand your sales funnels and hoover in as many leads and conversions as possible.
The more sources they can bring to bear, and the more effectively they can handle them, the better metrics they can ultimately secure.
You can turn to content marketing to ensure people looking for expert advice or product suggestions, certainly. You can use paid ads to reliably drive clicks.
But what’s your distribution method?
Instead of just using traditional channels such as search engines. You can turn to the incredible popularity of social media platforms.
Social audiences are vast and actionable, potentially making them incredibly lucrative.
When you’re tweaking your sales strategy to factor in social media, chatbots can help.
Chatbots can be deployed on social media platforms to drive sales. By interacting with shoppers or even allowing them to buy directly through channels such as Facebook Messenger or Pinterest).
It’s a time of multi-channel e-commerce — having an adapted version of each facet of the sales process for each viable channel. But the ultimate goal is omnichannel e-commerce (having just one seamless cross-channel buyer experience).
A chatbot is perfect for this because it can be deployed across many channels while drawing from the same database. That makes this technology essential to moving online retail ahead.
Suggested read: How to integrate chatbot with facebook.
2. They provide useful engagement on a 24/7 basis
This is a time of international retail and flexible working. So it’s hardly rare for someone to decide they want to buy something in the early hours of the morning.
Factor in the presence of mobile devices that can tempt even those with regular sleeping patterns and you have a recipe for 24/7 retail from both national and international shoppers.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night? Found yourself unable to get back to sleep, and decided to do some online shopping as a distraction? I know I’ve done it many times.
Disposable income plus incredible convenience equals impulse buying.
Before you know it, your alarm goes off and you suddenly remember buying a huge shipment of your favorite dessert — all because you could manage it with a half-working sleep-addled mind.
Suggested read: How did Epic sports automated 60% of customer queries.
What happens, though, when a shopper reaches an online store at such a time and has a question to ask?
No support assistants will be available because it’s outside regular working hours, so there might be no support whatsoever.
This can be frustrating: perhaps only mildly for the shopper who wasn’t that invested in making a purchase, but massively for the store brand because it could have made a purchase but managed to miss out.
Chatbots, though, don’t need to sleep or take breaks.
They can be left to run all day and every day with zero degradation or complaints about exhaustion.
And you don’t need to pay them extra to work overtime.
What’s more, while they can’t keep shoppers hooked with the entertaining conversation?
Ecommerce chatbots can be consistently useful and do things like make dynamic recommendations or provide order updates.
This helps to pick up sales throughout the day.
3. They ensure incredible consistency of presentation
I noted that chatbots can’t be too conversational.
Even with today’s NLP and techniques to make them seem more human, they’re just not capable of convincingly mimicking human speech.
But they can provide incredible consistency when it comes to aesthetics and functionality — two things that make a huge difference to user experience.
For instance, a business can brand the design of its e-commerce chatbot to widely distribute those brand elements.
It can adjust the color schemes of the windows, the language used (how formal or informal it is, how it presents and describes products), and how visuals are deployed.
When a real support assistant recommends a product, they might forget to mention a certain feature.
There is no chance of a chatbot making that mistake.
And when a customer wants to know something, in particular, they’ll know ahead of time whether they can get it from a store’s chatbot.
Because it will have been listed very clearly in the array of functions (usually displayed at the first opening and subsequently made available through some kind of help button in the chatbot window).
Think about how different that is from dealing with support assistants, particularly for big businesses with a lot of employees.
Have you ever used a huge company’s support service?
And become intensely frustrated by having your support ticket passed among numerous people who don’t seem to share information properly?
Suggested read: How to reduce customer service response time?
You call up, log an issue, and wait for a thorough reply.
When it comes, it’s from a different person who must confirm all the details with you — and when you’re done talking, they pass the issue to yet another person who must repeat the process.
Soon enough you start getting angry with the assistants, even though they’re not individually to blame for the process.
Chatbots aren’t just consistent: they ensure incredible continuity of service, with every case tracked carefully and every chatbot instance able to immediately access all the necessary details through user logins or unique ticket identifiers.
The former can provide fast support without having to pay real assistants, and the latter get their questions answered.
Whenever they need help, all without having to address real people. This is fantastic for merchants and shoppers.
4. They can accommodate huge numbers of visitors
Any given support assistant can only deal with so many queries at once, and each one will reduce the speed of their responses and affect the quality of their support.
Bonus: How to automate your customer support using chatbots
Even if someone can type quickly and multi-task like a top-level pro, they can’t manage several complex conversational exchanges at once without making mistakes that can prove extremely embarrassing for the brand they represent (mistakes like getting names confused).
Imagine if you could create an exact copy of that support assistant for every shopper, ensuring undivided attention. You can’t, obviously (even if you could, it would be ethically questionable), but you can do something very similar by using chatbots.
After all, multi-tasking isn’t a concern for chatbots backed by extensive cloud-processing resources.
Such chatbots are capable of doing far more than just working on a 24/7 basis. They are also efficient in handling huge workloads.
Each instance is separate, serving as that exact copy we talked about: another execution of the same program but with a blank slate and zero resource overlap.
Set up a chatbot with the right cloud computing plan and it can scale neatly to accommodate the number of people using your site, drawing more processing power when needed and asking for less when it isn’t.
This is ultimately an efficient way to deal with intense retail periods such as public holidays.
What’s more, they don’t mess up, no matter how much traffic you throw at them. The worst-case scenario is that the demand surpasses the supply you’re paying for, and things start to slow down.
There still won’t be any mistakes such as No confusing names, No typos stemming from trying to type too quickly, No requests misinterpreted as a result of overwork.
This is a solid list of reasons why e-commerce chatbots are so effective in driving sales and customer retention, but it isn’t exhaustive.
In summary, provided you can create high-quality scripts and back them with the necessary resources, there’s no good reason not to use e-commerce chatbots.
So if you’re not using them for your online retail brand, now is the perfect time to change that.
This is a guest post by Kayleigh Alexandra from Micro startup.
MicroStartups is a business community that celebrates inspiring startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a startup making your way in the business world.
At Kommunicate, we are envisioning a world-beating customer support solution to empower the new era of customer support. We would love to have you on board to have a first-hand experience of Kommunicate. You can signup here and start delighting your customers right away.