Using chatbots in eCommerce is nothing new. Online stores were the earliest adopters of automated interactive messaging applications from as early as 2011. The bots bore the promise of making shopping easier by solving a lot of headaches for online retailers, from providing quick answers to customer FAQs to generating leads to offering product recommendations.
Like all new technologies, chatbots had to undergo their adoption life cycle. By 2016, the hype around AI chatbots was at its fever pitch, and the technology had passed the acceptance and integration stages.
Many sources began predicting a strong future for AI chatbots. Well, their predictions have held true, and the chatbot bubble has never burst. We are now in the full use stage, and you may be considering using eCommerce chatbots.
What do you need to know? Today’s article covers potential use cases of AI chatbots in eCommerce. Let’s get started:
What is an eCommerce Chatbot?
Chatbot e-commerce may be described as a conversational robot that can engage in a conversation with a human to facilitate various sales processes.
While the earliest chatbots for eCommerce followed topical response decision trees with rule-based algorithms and unidirectional communication, the infusion of various artificial intelligence technologies continues to make bots smarter at interacting with people.
First and foremost, Artificial Intelligence (AI) gives AI chatbots the ability to think and reason intelligently, making two-way communication a reality.
Machine learning powers chatbots to learn from experiences — to build better models and come up with better predictions.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) imparts the capacity to simulate human linguistic abilities in AI chatbots.
When considering implementation, e-commerce sites can choose between text-based (messaging) bots or voice bots, which are AI conversational apps that leverage speech synthesis (text-to-speech) to generate spoken speech.
The innovation of voice bots represents a big shift in the industry. It opens up new possibilities for people without access to interactive messaging chatbots on websites or social media apps through their smartphones. They can simply access automated support by calling a number, just as they would contact the support center. The use of voice further bridges the gap between human and automated support as it inclines to the way people like resolving issues — which entails speaking to a real live agent.
The technology has progressed from where it was, and true human-like conversations without following a defined logic tree are now possible. It’s becoming user-friendly, with innovations such as introducing emotional overtones in synthesized speech.
What are some possible applications for AI chatbots in eCommerce?
Cases of Using AI Chatbot for eCommerce
An eCommerce chatbot is an intelligent assistant that can help out with many aspects of running an online store in any industry. It can help out on two main fronts that many businesses struggle with: customer engagement and customer support. This will allow your business to sell more, offer around-the-clock support, retain and re-engage existing customers.
With voice AI — which is fresh and more useful — you can delight buyers with instantaneous human-like support. Here are some use cases, but you can imagine more applications depending on your particular set of challenges:
Personalised shopping and product discovery
Consumers prefer personalized experiences from e-commerce websites, and according to a Google marketing survey, 90% of leading marketers believe that personalization can boost the business's bottom line. For instance, using AI in eCommerce can allow businesses to offer intelligent recommendations. The bot can leverage collected user data or ask questions to ascertain the customer’s preferences. This is akin to shopping at a brick-and-mortar store — where an attendance asks a series of questions to figure out the customer's tastes or needs before recommending products or services in the catalog.
A chatbot eCommerce app can even make product discovery quicker. Rather than having users scroll through multiple product pages to find suitable items, the AI chatbot can find what they’re looking for, shortening the path to purchase. An intelligent bot can similarly answer questions on the fly about product availability or questions about the return policy for each particular product.
When it comes to the choice of bot for product discovery, it may be preferable to have a text-based AI chatbot, particularly if it has to suggest multiple options or variations. Having the items neatly displayed in the chat makes them easy to retrieve, and users don’t have to remember each exact item that was said before. Still, voice bots may be offered for users that don’t necessarily want to type out each reply or for websites dealing with a limited catalog of specialty items.
Customers return over 20% of online purchases (some sources put the returns figure at 30%) compared to 9% of inventory purchased from brick and mortar stores. Why is the return percentage significantly higher with online stores? In fashion, the most common reasons given by customers include size issues 52%, change of heart 12%, style 8%, not as described 5%, and defective 5%.
An eCommerce chatbot can address return prevention in many ways, including:
Guiding customers towards the most suitable items based on their size selections or preferences;
Alerting customers about the presence of items with different sizes being wrongfully added to the cart;
Providing installation guidelines or reminding customers of system requirements. The latter can prove useful in the electrical goods niche where significant returns arise from customers not understanding how to install the products or the base requirements.
AI chatbots may also prove helpful in mitigating returns by offering customers an offer to exchange purchased goods with other relevant products. Currently, returns cost retailers and manufacturers about $100 billion per year.
Management of ordering
AI eCommerce chatbots and conversational apps may be instrumental in automating various order management tasks. For instance, they can ask customers to upload receipts after payment to the business’s bank account for order processing. Many chains have already implemented AI chatbots in the order process, where customers can even make their orders on Facebook messenger and other platforms.
Dasha.ai examined a hypothetical case where a conversational voice may be used for order confirmation to ensure that the business has the correct details for the delivery. In this case, the AI can perform this repetitive process cheaply without boggling human agents with trivial tasks.
Instant responses to customers FAQ
An e-commerce chatbot can offer an immediate response to frequently asked customer questions. And this represents the leading reason why eCommerce sites use chatbots. According to a TIDIO survey, 59% of respondents cited that giving their customers answers quickly was the primary reason they set up chatbots. Other leading reasons included saving time with automated customer service and making their websites more interactive.
AI chatbots may go further and give unique non-scripted responses for novel queries. Voice bots may offer voice assistance 24/7 with a much faster two-way communication flow than what chat or email can offer. In some cases, users may even find that dealing with the voice bot is much easier. It will be keen to ask all the right questions following best practices and rules. The bots can even listen and ask for further verification.
While AI chatbots may not entirely replace support agents, they can allow for a hybrid approach towards customer care. For instance, the AI chatbot can give the user the ability to escalate their case to a human agent at any time. It can also screen calls or gather essential facts about the problem, making the human agent's job more efficient.
Conversational e-commerce describes the use of conversational interfaces to interact with customers. It's an attempt to bring more conversations to online shopping that is often devoid of any human interactions as customers predominantly shop for items from static pages.
Using eCommerce AI chatbots and voice bots gives businesses the chance to immerse themselves in conversational commerce. They are one step closer to replicating the in-store and in-person shopping experience on the Internet.
As eCommerce sites reap the benefits of more engagements, sales, and increased satisfaction, spending in conversational commerce channels is expected to grow. By 2025, spending worldwide is anticipated to reach $290 billion, up from $41 billion in 2021.
Lead Generation Through eCommerce Chatbots
Lead generation typically entails creating interest for products from engaged users or striking up an ongoing conversation with interested shoppers. For instance, an intelligent chatbot may greet new customers on the website and ask qualifying questions to measure the visitor’s purchase intent. Based on the responses and conversation flow, the AI for eCommerce may even offer the customer a chance to speak to a human agent.
For customers who are not ready to buy but shopping around, the bot may capture their contact information for a chance to contact them later with relevant discounts or seasonal promos.
Chatbots may even facilitate the appointment booking process. The bot may qualify and capture leads across the business's marketing channels, from the main website to the social media channels.
Research shows that online stores generate the most leads from chatbots at 77.4% compared to 7.5% for service-based businesses.
Driving Sales Through eCommerce Chatbots
Driving sales is a big reason for using AI chatbots, and there is already evidence of the effectiveness of chatbots in this regard. In a survey, business leaders revealed that chatbots had increased sales by 67% on average.
In a 2019 study by Temple University and Fudan University professors, the researchers discovered that chatbots increased sales up to four times higher compared to inexperienced workers. The performance was seen in the portion of users who were not informed that they were interacting with a bot. In the segment informed of the use of AI, sales decreased as much as 80%, as customers felt that they would receive better support from a human. That doesn’t effectively mean that AI chatbots can hurt sales, only that there is still the need for awareness and the development of more helpful AI bots.
Now, eCommerce chatbots can help with many aspects of selling. They can offer product recommendations and match customers with the right products, avoiding frustration.
The intelligent support agents can quickly answer product queries on the size or color, which may impede shoppers from finalizing the purchase.
Cart abandonment rates are sky-high, with as many as 7 in 10 shoppers never finalizing their purchase. E-commerce chatbots can drive sales through cart recovery. It may entail sending out reminders to customers about items left in their carts. The bots can watch for exit intent signals to offer timely coupons or rewards.
With attention spans at an all-time low of 8 seconds, it’s increasingly common for customers to get distracted during the shopping process. AI chatbots may speed up the customer towards the payment gateway simply by asking customers if they are ready to pay and helping to capture their details in a conversational way.
Post-Sales with eCommerce Chatbots
An eCommerce AI chatbot can facilitate after-sales processes to delight buyers looking for further help after purchasing the business's products or services.
Happy customers are more likely to make another purchase, which can help reduce the cost of acquiring new customers that may be 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing clients. For instance, the AI bot can help resolve issues revolving around the delivery status, returns, or exchanges. It can ask questions about the delivery of items and ask if customers are satisfied with their items. If they are happy with the experience, the AI chatbot may encourage them to leave reviews. It can even sort out issues with their loyalty card replacement or re-engage shoppers with personalized bonuses and seasonal greetings.
Building the Best Voice Conversational Assistant on Dasha.ai
Businesses can embrace ready-made solutions for their AI chatbots or build their own. Some of the best eCommerce chatbots include:
If you have a messaging chatbot, your eCommerce business can similarly consider venturing into voice commerce with conversational AI virtual assistants. Because each use case may be different, you may need to have a voice bot developed.
Dasha.ai offers a platform for developers to build voice bot conversational apps. It provides a single integration with everything they need, rather than leaving them to pierce together various services and integrations to create intelligent support assistants.