Chatbots for retail: everything you need to know


Online fashion can be pretty fast. However, delays in answering customer queries might be holding them back. Whether it’s about the latest releases or product recommendations, consumers want answers quick. 

The answer for brands could lie in the use of chatbots. It might be an ugly name but these software programmes are being used by big brands. Conversations between shoppers and the likes of Burberry, Asos, H&M, and Sephora are powered by chatbots. By simulating human-like discussions online they can deliver instantaneous responses to customers’ questions.

Many shoppers expect LiveChat solutions online and by incorporating chatbots into this conversation it reduces the need for human intervention and delays to checkout. Chatbots can navigate simple questions such as queries about delayed orders or extra product details; thereby making it more cost efficient for brands to implement LiveChat solutions on their websites.

Myclever identifies that chatbots can be exploited in two ways: either to answer consumer queries or as a commerce bot. Aside from answering questions, bots allows shoppers to purchase items directly from whatever instant messenger platform they are using.

Chatbot shopping assistant

Being able to respond to questions quickly is becoming increasingly important as the demand from shoppers for instant gratification continues to grow. Chatbots can help retailers deliver a greater amount of personalisation through the building up a picture of individual customers via the conversation.

Chatbots are becoming more intelligent and allowing retailers to harness personalisation by tailoring conversations to the products on view. This pushes things into the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is being used very effectively by The North Face . It asks customers intelligent questions and hones in on the ideal product for them, which is proving to be major step on from the ineffective filtering and search tools found on many fashion websites –the result being more satisfied customers. After just two months, sales conversions were at a whopping 75 per cent.

chatbots for retail and ecommerce

But is it too much too soon?

In a recent Econsultancy article bot platform KIK’s CEO Ted Livingstone commented

“Part of the misfire with the conversational aspect of bots has to do with the fact that natural language processing and artificial intelligence are not yet accomplished at managing human-like conversations.” It’s not only users not wanting to think, but bots that are unable to (at least with the requisite accuracy).

It is still early days for chatbots and while they can appear clunky by way of their inability to process a broad spectrum of language this will no doubt be overcome in due course and they will no doubt play a big role in retail.

While this improvement takes place chatbots represent a powerful technology for brands to use alongside their existing human communication activities,  As Ted himself puts it, retailers that are considering Chatbots should at the very least, ensure they are “well-positioned to take advantage when the technology takes off.”

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