Over the last few years, the need for instant service has exponentially increased across different industries, including e-commerce.
Changing customer behavior, heavy usage of text messaging apps, and new industry trends have raised many new challenges for businesses to fulfill demanding consumers' needs. Therefore, solutions like chatbots, which help connect with shoppers instantly, have experienced a sudden boost in popularity.
Keep reading this post if you want to get to know e-commerce chatbots better and dig deeper into the benefits that adding one to your store can bring to your business.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is artificial intelligence (AI) software that can maintain a conversation with a human either via text (chat) or voice. It is designed to follow specific pre-made rules, interact with users in a conversational manner, and work independently from a human operator.
In e-commerce, chatbots help customers navigate through the online store, get the information the visitor needs quickly, and even generate leads. They can help find answers to the most common questions, provide product recommendations, process refunds, assist with shopping, and more.
Put simply, a chatbot is an equivalent of a salesperson who greets customers once they enter a physical store. Chatbots can either help you themselves or direct you to someone/somewhere where you can get the information you need.
Why are chatbots important?
With all the options for online shopping and possibilities to choose from so many different brands, customers are no longer looking only for a specific product; they also look for convenience purchasing that product and everything that follows. In other words – the experience that’s worth coming back next time.
By engaging visitors on your website, chatbots can make online shopping smoother and more interactive, actually guiding your site visitors and potential customers through your store and helping them make the right purchase decisions.
Besides, for any extra assistance, shoppers can use chatbots to connect with customer service reps and quickly receive the support they need – which is what today’s demanding consumer expects.
Main benefits of adding a chatbot to your online store
🔸 24/7 customer service. Unlike your customer support team, chatbots never sleep. No matter when a visitor decides to enter your online store, be it 1 PM or 1 AM, they can still get the assistance they need.
🔸 Instant assistance. With chatbots, there are no queues – being a virtual assistant, an e-commerce chatbot enables shoppers to solve their issues instantly without waiting in line to get in touch with a customer service rep.
🔸 Lead generation. Chatbots engage visitors in a conversation and help them make decisions that can positively impact your conversion rates.
🔸 More efficient problem resolution. While customer support agents can simultaneously talk to 3-5 customers (depending on the complexity of the issue), there’s no such limit for chatbots. It means that with the help of e-commerce chatbots, you can serve more customers at the same time.
🔸 Reduced workload for agents. Using chatbots, visitors can resolve many issues on their own. This way, customer support reps don’t have to dedicate their time to recurring or basic questions and can focus on more complex inquiries.
🔸 Valuable insights on customer behavior. Chatbot conversations can give you valuable insights on the most common questions and problems your customers face, what products they're most interested in, etc. Based on this information, you can not only improve your answers but also adjust your marketing and content strategy to best suit your customers' needs.
🔸 Increased customer engagement and experience. The right questions at the right time, instant answers, 24-hour availability, and faster support not only can but will improve your customer experience, increasing the chances of seeing them on your store again.
How to use chatbots in e-commerce?
There are many types of chatbots that can be built to fulfill specific purposes, like providing customer support or assisting while shopping.
To give you a clearer idea of what e-commerce chatbots are capable of, here are 5 popular chatbot use cases that may inspire you to try one if you are still considering adding a chatbot to your online store.
1. Elevate your customer support
Customer service is one of the most obvious chatbot use cases that can significantly add up to your overall customer satisfaction. As shoppers always prefer quick answers, personalized support, and texting, chatbots, that are there for your site visitors 24/7, are vital.
Since using chatbots eliminates the need to interact with human representatives, it can help to elevate overall customer support quality, improve the team's efficiency and productivity.
Chatbots can automate the whole process while agents are busy or out-of-office. Customers still get to resolve most of their issues fast (e.g., get answers to FAQs), and agents don't have to spend their time on such inquiries and focus their efforts on other important tasks.
2. Provide information and updates quickly
Generally, the biggest advantage of chatbots over live agents is faster responses. At least slight delays are always expected when trying to get in touch with customer service teams; however, with chatbots, the delays are not just reduced – they are nearly eliminated.
This way, website visitors and customers can instantly gather the information they need as soon as they open the chat.
Chatbots can be used for providing visitors with such updates and info as:
- Shipping information and order status updates (order tracking)
- Billing and pricing information
- Return policy
- Other valuable resources (e.g., e-books, case studies, research, etc.)
3. Ask for feedback to improve
There are many ways you can ask for customer feedback (and it’s important that you do). Chatbots are one of them, and a pretty effective one, since it’s quick, straightforward, and easy to complete.
Depending on your goals, resources and abilities, you can implement either simple feedback chatbots that offer pre-selected answers or scales of 1-10, or make it more conversational. For instance, create a sequence of more open-ended questions.
What’s great about asking for feedback using chatbots is that the customer doesn’t feel like it just came out of the blue. They’ve often just finished an interaction with your business and get simply asked to share how it went. Since they don’t even need to leave a chat to write their opinion, it increases the chances of succeeding, allowing you to collect valuable insights and use them for future improvements.
4. Facilitate sales and send offers
Some more advanced e-commerce chatbots can assist your store visitors through the whole time they spend on your website. They can interact with potential customers in a conversational manner, understand what they're looking for, and offer recommendations.
For instance, if someone is looking for a specific clothing item, let’s say, a linen dress, a chatbot can continue the conversation by asking about the size a shopper is looking for. Once it receives the answer, a chatbot can provide a list of possible options, enabling visitors to check the items quickly, without navigating product categories.
This way, you can turn a casual site visitor into a paying and, hopefully, returning customer.
5. Reduce the number of abandoned carts
There can be many reasons why shoppers abandon their carts – from complicated checkouts to unexpected costs. Cart abandoned rates vary in different industries, yet on average, nearly 80% of carts are abandoned overall.
Chatbots are one of the “tools” that can help you reduce the number of people who add items to their carts and leave without completing their orders. Depending on your chatbot, it can send reminders to messenger apps, email, or inform shoppers about their carts right in the chat.
For instance, if someone left items in their cart, didn’t purchase, but came back to your store after some time, a chatbot can inform them that the products they are interested in are still in their virtual cart and offer to finish shopping. For the extra nudge, you can add some urgency to chatbots' messages, saying that the stocks are limited or a discount code is about to expire if there is one.
3 chatbot examples from real brands
1. Domino’s Pizza
Domino's Pizza has built a chatbot on Messenger to help visitors go through the ordering process, enable order tracking, and receive customer support.
Although it sounds pretty simple, this chatbot is well-thought-out assistance that can help with basically everything someone looking for a pizza could wish for. It's easy to place an order right on the chat, see its status, and get the basic questions answered if there are any.
Besides, the chatbot sounds friendly and leads a potential customer to checkout in a conversational manner, making it fun and easy.
H&M’s chatbot is there to help store visitors to find products and provide answers to commonly asked questions, like “Where is my parcel?”. It allows you to continue the conversation in chat or send an email to the customer support team right from the chat if the issue is more complex.
If you’re interested in a particular product, this chatbot can help you find it on a website, you just need to tell it what you’re looking for, e.g., linen dress. The chatbot then comes back with several options that allow you to search using a photo from your camera roll, search by keywords/product number, or find out the stock availability online/in-store.
As you can see in the example above, we chose the keyword-based search and tried to type one of the chatbot's suggestions, floral, to find everything that contains a floral pattern.
We then got redirected to this page:
Guiding the shopper through the possible options and answering popular questions, the H&M bot acts as an assistant and adviser, smoothening the shopping experience.
3. Michael Kors
Michael Kors's chatbot, or virtual assistant, helps website visitors with anything their order-related. Once you open a chat, it gives you answer options and provides suggestions based on your choices.
If you’ve already placed your order, you can choose to cancel it, report a problem ordering, track its status, proceed to returns, or contact customer service. If your answer is no, the chatbot offers options that can help you do it, like actually placing an order, conducting a search based on specific requirements (e.g., size), or finding a physical store nearby.
The possibility to simply click a pre-made option to continue the conversion makes Michael Kors's chatbot easy to engage with and helps to get the necessary information literally in a few clicks of the button.
Start reaping the benefits of e-commerce chatbots
Using chatbots comes with so many possibilities that it is barely possible to go through all of them in just one article. There are many types of chatbots that vary in complexity and can serve different purposes in e-commerce as well as other industries.
The fact that more and more businesses are building some kind of chatbots to assist their customers makes it clear that chatbots are becoming valuable in every team. So if you’re considering installing one for your store, that’s a good idea – just think of what exactly do you need and what kind of chatbot will be able to serve your store visitors best.