As customer engagement and personalisation continue to drive the retail industry, we take a look at what role chatbots will play in its future.
What’s all the chat about?
Simply put, chatbots are an advanced online customer service tool that uses artificial intelligence systems to interact via text. Bots often live inside messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, and have been designed to converse with humans and assist them with queries. Recently, programmers have been able to develop chatbots with stronger conversation abilities than ever before thanks to advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Chatbots are an advanced online customer service tool that uses artificial intelligence systems to interact via text.
With more and more major retailers adopting chatbot technology, the ways in which they can assist both customers and retailers are becoming increasingly apparent. Bots allow retailers to engage in ‘conversational commerce’ (i.e. using chat or messaging to interact with consumers), thus simplifying the journey-to-purchase for consumers.
With the growth of the app market slowing, fewer smartphone users are willing to download individual store apps. Retailers need to find new ways to connect with consumers, which is where Chatbots come into play. Chatbots allow consumers to engage in one-to-one conversations and have their questions answered quickly and easily. Bots can offer round the clock support, meaning consumers can have their questions answered as and when they need from anywhere in the world.
Chatbots get social
In April of this year, Facebook began allowing retailers to create chatbots on Messenger, meaning consumers could connect to their favourite brands via the popular messaging app. Global brand Burberry were one of the first to get involved, running a chatbot campaign via Facebook Messenger that allowed users to watch their London Fashion Week Shows, browse images of the collection and request to interact with a human.
Bringing their London fashion show to life, Burberry ran a chatbot campaign via Facebook Messenger that allowed the audience to have a deeper brand experience. Source: Le Luxe Est Vivant
Since then, numerous retailers have jumped on board, and Facebook now operates over 11,000 chatbots via Messenger, which have the ability to send video, images, audio, GIFs and other files. Now, the social network has announced that brands who are operating chatbots on Messenger will be able to purchase targeted newsfeed ads that drive traffic directly to their bots, allowing them to immediately initiate conversations with users and increase sales as a result.
What this means for retailers
Chatbots are another example of how the retail landscape is evolving every day, and with Google and Amazon already dominating the online retail landscape, physical retailers need to remain competitive.
Although it may seem overwhelming, retailers should embrace these new technologies as a digital complement to their existing customer service strategy. Consumers are always on the lookout for high value, personalised experiences, thus retailers need to integrate their online and offline customer experiences to increase brand loyalty and drive more people in store.
Tech and retail are becoming increasingly aligned, and the chatbot trend is indicative of the fact that consumers are looking for information about products whilst shopping or in the research stage. Online visibility is a must, and Store Discovery Optimisation (SDO) increases that, ensuring retailers and products are immediately discoverable to consumers.