There has been a marked increase in the popularity of online shopping, particularly mobile shopping, in the recent past. According to a report, e-commerce sales are projected to hit $4.8 trillion in 2021. The reason is simple – online shopping is extremely convenient. A study claims that 43% of shoppers make purchases while in bed, 23% at the office, and 20% from the bathroom or while in the car. For businesses, online shops save them the overhead costs of maintaining brick and mortar stores. This enables online retailers to pass on some of the savings to their buyers in the form of discounts and offers, making their shopping experience even more rewarding.
However, merely offering discounts is not enough for businesses that wish to stay in their customers’ minds.
Today, consumers are ready to pay more for a better shopping experience, and 80 percent of users will not hesitate to switch brands after a poor experience. Indeed, that puts a lot of pressure on brands to invest heavily in their customer experience (CX) strategy. But, on the bright side, it also means that companies that focus on creating innovative and convenient experiences for their buyers will attain a distinct edge in the market. This is also the reason why chatbots are becoming increasingly common in e-commerce, with 85% of customer service interactions predicted to happen without human interaction by 2020.
The Rise of Conversational Commerce and the Role of Chatbots
Chris Messina, a former Uber developer, used the term conversational commerce to explain the increased usage of social messengers for customer communication in the world of commerce.
If you are looking for examples, think Facebook, WeChat, or Amazon’s Echo Dot, the shopping giant’s voice bot that enables its customers to interact with the company through voice commands, without ever lifting a finger.
Here’s another example you may have already interacted with. Tmall Genie and Ali Assistant, Alibaba’s AI assistants, process up to 95% of the company’s customer queries in both written and spoken formats. The AI algorithms that power the bots have become smarter over time and are capable of making intelligent product and search recommendations, automate customer service inquiries, and even map efficient delivery routes that have resulted in 10% reduction in vehicle use and 30% reduction in travel distances for the global brand.
Top Benefits of Chatbots for E-commerce Brands
As you can see from the above examples, investing in chatbot technology can give your e-commerce business a unique edge over the competition. Here are five ways in which you can use chatbots to transform your customers’ shopping experience:
1. 24×7 Support
Living in the age of instant gratification, customers want businesses to be available 24/7 and feel frustrated if they have to wait for long or repeat themselves to customer service representatives multiple times. 82% of buyers expect companies to respond instantly, allowing them a response time of under 10 minutes.
Using a chatbot for customer service can reduce your response time significantly. According to data, a chatbot can answer up to 80% of routine questions instantly without tiring out and engage up to six customers at a time.
2. Reduced Costs
Did you know that 29% of customer service positions can be automated through chatbots, saving $23 billion annually for U.S. businesses?
Using chatbots to carry out your customer service activities can save you a significant amount of money in hiring and training human support agents. Powered by intelligent technology, chatbots can go through customer queries contextually, leading them to the next logical step, such as sharing a link to relevant FAQs or connecting them to a human agent. Such a filtering mechanism ensures that simple queries are answered speedily by bots, while your human agents remain free to answer complex questions.
3. Customer satisfaction
When appropriately trained, chatbots can offer intelligent answers to clarify customer queries quickly without the hassle of making lengthy calls or scrolling through FAQs to find the relevant answers. Sometimes, it also happens that a customer is unable to find a product that fits their need. In such a scenario, a chatbot can ask a series of qualifying questions to lead a customer to the right product, saving them time by offering a convenient shopping mechanism.
Another benefit of using chatbots is that they don’t get tired or irritated. Therefore, a chatbot will always be polite and pleasant to your customers – answering questions in the right way to ensure a high degree of customer satisfaction.
4. Personalized Shopping Experience
Chatbots can be used to track consumer behavior and purchasing patterns by monitoring user data. This helps you understand your visitors better and make relevant product suggestions to boost conversions. You can also use chatbots to provide a personalized shopping experience on your site through pro-active conversations.
For example, your chatbot can begin a conversation by asking a series of qualifying questions to understand what a visitor wants from your site. Next, it can suggest relevant products, as well as discounts or offers, directing the visitor to make an instant purchase. A chatbot can also notify customers if an item is out of stock while suggesting appropriate alternatives and keeping them informed of the expected delivery date.
5. Optimize the Checkout Process
According to a study by Baymard, over 25% of customers feel bogged down by a long or complicated checkout process, and 21% of customers abandon their carts as they cannot calculate their costs upfront. In numbers, abandoned carts cost online retailers up to $4 trillion annually. Luckily, a significant portion of this lost revenue can be recovered by using a chatbot to enable customer support during the checkout process. Besides, chatbots can be used to remind users of the items in their abandoned carts, asking them if they wish to proceed towards checkout or empty their cart. Such simple reminders often coax users into completing their purchase, leading to higher revenues for your company.
The e-commerce space is a competitive one. And, to stay ahead, it is vital for brands to invest in emerging technologies that not only improve their CX but also reduce the operational costs. One good option is to invest in chatbot technology that delivers on both the parameters. According to a Grand View Research report, the global chatbot market will touch $1.23 billion by 2025. Oracle adds that 80% of businesses are already using chatbots or plan to use them by 2020 to stay ahead of the curve.
On the customer side, up to 71% of users are happy to receive customer service through a messaging app, while 47% of users are comfortable with the idea of purchasing items through a bot.
Clearly, chatbots in e-commerce have immense benefits and, both users and businesses recognize this. What are your views on the future of chatbot technology and its implications for the e-commerce industry? Share your opinions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.