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  • Writer's pictureBhagyeshwari Chauhan

Chatbots for Retail: How retailers are using chatbots to boost customer engagement

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

In present age, technology is developing at a pace faster than our ability to keep up with it. 

With technologies like embedded analytics and web scraping, the marketplace has now become

a lot more competitive than it was 50 years ago. Retailers have been exploring newer technologies to build competitiveness and woo customers. But implementing a new technology is not an easy task. It requires a huge amount of resources and commitment to function effectively for your business. Hence, many professionals hesitate when it comes to leveraging chatbots for retail.

Before we dive deep into how beneficial a chatbot can be for a business, let’s learn exactly what are chatbots and how they can be advantageous.

What are Chatbots?

To put it simply, chatbots are programmed robots that behave like humans and interact with the customers visiting your website to stimulate conversation like a human through the use of artificial intelligence. Instead if having your customers go through the process of using filters to narrow down their search to a specific product they want, chatbots can intervene and give helpful suggestions to make the customers believe that they are interacting with a real retail associate.

Many chatbots are already found on websites like Subway and Fresh Direct, as well as in branded Facebook pages. Facebook recently confirmed that people have already created 33,000 chatbots for it messenger app so far.

Businesses are winning with Chatbots

Chatbots are an excellent way to build your brand, especially because they can provide tailor-made responses according to the expectations that the customers have in your brand. Chatbots not only lower your cost, in the long run, they are also extremely quick and efficient in their responses.

Here are some example of companies that are nailing it with their chatbot strategy-

  • Slackbot– Full of witty responses and personality, Slackbot is one of the most well-known chatbots out there. The company has expanded on this concept and launched an external API, empowering developers to build their own bots for Slack, by accessing Slack’s app directory, custom made to their needs.

  • Facebook Messenger– Not wanting to be left behind in the race, FB also launched an API, making it easy for customers to make purchases from their favorite brands. The company first integrated peer to peer payment with its messenger in 2015, and then went ahead to launch a full-scale chatbot API, enabling businesses to create an interactive eco-system for their customers.

  • Macy– A simple bot names StoreHelp is created to help you locate items in your local Macy’s store. Optimised mainly for mobiles, it works seamlessly and also provides product suggestions and answers simple questions.

  • Alexa– One of the most amazing bot personalities is Alexa, on Amazon Echo. It uses voice recognition and chatbot technology to create a seamless user experience anywhere in the user’s home. The flexibility of this bot makes it possible for users to get several mundane tasks done right from the comfort of their homes.

  • Kit– A smart virtual employee, is a bot that acts as an assistant to merchants for their many days today marketing tasks. Instead of using an app for every different task, it can interact with these apps on your behalf to do things like- creating Facebook and Instagram ads with accurate audience targeting, posting new products or sale notification on FB pages, sending personalized thank you email to customers and many more.

7 big areas where chatbots are helping companies

Chatbots for Retail: How retailers are using chatbots to boost customer engagement

Companies have finally started getting value out of their investment from chatbots. Companies like Marriott right now 3 different chatbots and they are working on more. After some major positives, 1-800 Flowers s developing chatbots for each major channel.

As the hype around chatbots keep increasing, there are 7 major areas where chatbots have been the most helpful-

1. E-commerce and Online Marketplaces

Online retail sites having started using chatbots in a way that has given their profits a huge boost. 1-800 Flowers reported that 70% of its messenger’s orders came from new customers. Similarly, Sephora increased their market appointments, via their Facebook messenger chatbot, by 11%.

There is a very large list of examples of how chatbots are transforming the retail industry.

Retailers have started using chatbots as a substitute for emails since they have higher open rates than emails. Bots are also being used for sales funnels, to segment customers and sell products. Companies have also been using bots to successfully tackle issues like abandoned carts, lead generation and personalized and predictive analysis.  

2. Customer Service

According to Mckinsey, companies have saved as much as 29% on customer services by deploying bots. BI services have estimated that saving from bots will equate to $23 billion from annual salaries.

Bots are being used for smart handoff. Customer services follow a ratio of 80-20 when it comes to the type of questions being asked. 80% of the time, it’s the same question repeated. By automating the most frequently asked questions, live operators will only have to take over when a bot can’t answer a particular question.

FAQ automation is another way of speeding up the process and making it more efficient. No one really reads an FAQ, instead they mail the company asking the same questions. Here bots have an opportunity to streamline the process by taking over and reverting to emails which can be answered by FAQ.

3. Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality

Bots are a huge hit in the hospitality and travel industry. They offer a great high-end user experience at a less price. Few companies that have benefited hugely are Marriott, which has seen an 85% growth month over month since the bot tech was launched on FB messenger. KLM increased customer interaction by 40% and helped 15% of the customers get their boarding pass via improving Net Promoter Score.

Bots in this industry is a hit due to some very specific reasons. Firstly, they create an engagement ecosystem, which quickens the problem-solving process. Like any customer can check via a bot if Marriott has room availability during a particular season. Secondly, bots allow for personalization. One way customers select hotels is by comparing prices. This puts the hotel in an awkward position of having indulged into a price war. With the help of bots, hotels will be able to offer the best price to a customer by grouping a number of features together based on a person’s preferences.

4. Banking, Financial Services & Fintech

Major players in this industry now rely on chatbots. JPMorgan has managed to save over 360,000 hours of manpower by relying on bots for replying to automated emails, solving simple IT requests etc. Swedbank’s chatbots handle around 40,000 conversations a month and solve 81% of the issues.  

There are many ways the banking industry is leveraging chatbots. One of them is smart messaging. Bots can help by warning customers about issues and dangers about their bank accounts. Companies like HiCharlie is taking it a step further by warning the customers about various fees and charges. Bots can also be used to give personalized tip and suggestions. For example, Bank of America’s bot can look into your account and tell you what to do with your money.

5. HR and Recruiting

Much of an HR’s work involves solving a primary problem and make an employee’s life at the company better. And bots can assist at every step of the way. Maya, a chatbot automates steps like sourcing, screening, and scheduling and saves 75% of the team’s time. SAP, another bot, helps streamline tasks like employee lookup, time logs, pending hours etc.

According to a survey conducted by the Society of Human  Resource Management, 38% of HR responsibility are the challenges they face in maintaining a high level of employee engagement. This becomes a problem because most of the HR systems are old and dated. Bots solve this problem by becoming the middle layer by integrating the old system with the new tech.

6. Chatbots as assistants

A group of chatbots is already underway which will serve only one purpose. It’s best to treat these bots as service providers that can be hired to do a task for you. These can be internal or B2B.

Internal chatbots are on the rise and have the potential to completely change the way we work. Currently, 45% of all job-related tasks can be automated using the existing tech.

Bots like RossIntelligence can do legal research for law firms automates tech projects by hiring managing developers for your project.

7. IOT and Voice

Voice is quickly becoming a huge hit and Alexa currently owns 70% of the market share. By 2020, it is predicted that there will be 128 million smarts speakers sold, Alexa alone will be generating $10 billion in revenue. The reason Alexa is so successful is that it can help you do all your mundane tasks very quickly. It can help you book tickets, shop for gifts on Amazon, order food and much more.

There are a number of ways to monetize voice. You can do it the good old-fashioned way and sell products on it. Or you can build a skill and charge a subscription fee.

Bots are changing the way we function in the market. Want to know more about how a chatbot can help boost your business? Contact us at Datahut, your big data experts.

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