Chatbots are Boosting Sales in E-Commerce

Alexandre Soncini
Alexandre Soncini June 21, 2017
Chatbots are Boosting Sales in E-Commerce

What You Don’t Know About Chatbots Could be Costing You Sales & Customer Satisfaction

Think communication streamlined, automated, and operating at the most elevated level. Computerized, without losing any of the human-touch required to empathize with a customer. Efficient enough to handle issues, solve them, and find the root of them. Imagine customer service without needing another human on the receiving end. Enter the age of the Chatbot.

What are Chatbots?

Chatbots are specific types of software that work using artificial intelligence to talk to and converse with people via messaging applications, offering an excellent new channel for customer service communications.

For those using the VTEX e-commerce system, you’re already equipped with the benefit of the Facebook Messenger chatbot included, and it is worth your while to utilize it.

Here’s an example of how customized chatbots work: Jane purchased her favorite perfume from a digital commerce retailer, and at the end of her purchase, she opted to receive updated info regarding the status of her purchase via Facebook Messenger. Several days later, she receives a message on her phone stating that her item will arrive the following day. She is thankful, and then decides to ask via Messenger if a similar product is available. The chatbot “attendant” responds with the unfortunate news that they do not have it in stock, but will notify her as soon as it does become available. Jane appreciated the interaction and the communication, and as efficient and coherent as it was, she has no clue that it was a chatbot she “spoke” to.

In the case of H&M, which offers a chat feature once a visitor lands on their site, it is designed to converse like a friend discussing fashion taste. It then will introduce the visitor to a variety of outfits, based on their personal style. According to H&M, customers have been greatly satisfied with the service, which has worked like a friendly personal shopper. For the retailer, the service has had the benefit of increasing conversions, the ultimate goal, because it is more personal than a targeted ad, and the opportunities to upsell are endless. It’s a win-win in every way.

While such implementation of technology is groundbreakingly new, the technology itself is not. Facebook Messenger, Skype, and others such as Telegram have long been in existence, however with the advent and widespread usage of AI, using these technologies in new ways to maintain a seamless customer service experience has become quite common. Chatbots are the new customer service rep, and experience is showing us how efficient they are.

In April of 2016, Mark Zuckerberg announced the technological platform, explaining that it was going to enable companies to develop their own chatbots and software, and have it linked to Facebook Messenger, with the intention of making it as smooth and seamless as messaging a friend, without the hassle of dealing with a call center.

By May, just one month after the technology launched, Facebook Messenger had acquired over 11,000 registered chatbots! In that time, Facebook has done constant evolutions to further the capabilities and to continue perfecting the technology for the best interactions between companies and their customers.

Additionally, according to a report on Internet trends by KBPC, in just that short time, messaging applications such as these Facebook-powered chatbots have become the preferred method of communication for Millennials, who appreciate the smooth, easy, call-free method of getting their info instantly, the way they are used to.

Facebook is not the only big player in the game, however. Other giants who have gotten in on the action include Google, Apple, IBM. and Microsoft, and they are all contributing massively to the growth of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing. These companies are all over this new technology, and they are constantly developing and refining ways to use them in everyday life to improve processing, while automating factors that can benefit.

Companies that have jumped at the chance of taking advantage of this technology include CNN, 1-800-Flowers, Skyscanner, Original Bank, Vivo, and Panvel Pharmacies and every one has seen excellent results in the improvement of communication with customers. According to Chris McCann, president of 1-800-Flowers, in just a few months of having this technology in play, over 70% of chatbot purchases were coming from new customers, showing a fantastic numerical increase attributed exclusively to this technology. As reported by Éthel Ribas, one of Panvel Pharmacies’ heads of customer service, less than 3 months after starting to use chatbots, the company experienced a drastic improvement in the quality and capabilities of their customer service, without seeing an increase in operating costs. Suffice it to say, chatbots have been a major point of success for those who have started to use them.

For digital commerce businesses that have yet to implement chatbot technology, we believe it’s only a matter of time before it happens. Chatbots are opening up new possibilities for retailers to offer high-level service, in new and innovative ways that create less friction overall. Especially regarding the possibilities that lie ahead with Facebook Messenger, this automated intelligent channel is bringing new business, and nourishing existing relationships with customers for the companies that utilize it.