Chatbots weren’t born out of a pandemic-driven need for innovation. They’ve been around for a while. The same goes for conversational marketing as a category, which was made popular to sell companies the idea they absolutely *needed* a chatbot on their website.
More and more businesses are jumping in on that train. The question of whether or not it’s a must-have need is one for some other time, but in a nutshell, it depends. However, if you operate in the eCommerce industry, chatbots offer clear benefits and advantages.
In the midst of uncertain times, eCommerce is one of the few sectors to have prospered in the last couple of years. Online shopping was already popular among buyers, but faced with the impossibility of visiting physical stores, it became the sole outlet for our consumer dreams for a while.
This buying behavior came to stay, and with more people choosing to steer away from stores, innovation must be a constant among retailers.
A good bet is to make use of chatbots. So, here’s all you need to know about them to boost your eCommerce business.
A Brief Intro to Chatbots in Ecommerce
Chatbots allow users to interact with a business through a chat interface. They’ve been used quite commonly on websites and messaging platforms, but they’ve become widespread on eCommerce sites more recently. These bots can be rule-based, following a "choose-your-own-adventure" logic, and sometimes they use artificial intelligence technology.
Chatbots come in different types, including:
- Virtual assistant chatbots: like Siri, they can retrieve information and perform certain tasks such as playing a requested song or placing a call to someone.
- Text-based chatbots: represent a point of first contact for customers and can help answer simple questions.
Text-based chatbots are commonly included in eCommerce marketing strategies, but also to provide customer support and offer product recommendations. They're intended to guide users along their buying journey, from finding the items they want to completing the transaction.
The reason chatbots are seeing wider adoption in eCommerce is, precisely, that they can improve customer service by helping people find what they’re looking for. That provides a more streamlined buying experience and saves customers an unnecessary nuisance.
Of course, not all chatbots are the same.
Some of them, often AI-based chatbots, can hold more complex conversations with users. Others are made for more basic purposes and uses. For example, some chatbots simply use keyword matching to display relevant information to users. On the other hand, some bots have active learning capacities that allow them to pick up data from previous conversations and craft tailored suggestions or in-depth replies.
The tech-savvy consumers of today expect brands to respond to their changing. Not just that, but more and more customers have come to expect to have a chatbot on call to help them with certain queries.
Some chatbots are straightforwardly functional, guiding customers towards whatever it is they’re looking for (or at least as close as possible.) Others are programmed to take on a more playful approach, for example, just conveying a brand's personality or a fun piece of trivia.
Whatever their exact approach is, chatbots are there first and foremost to serve a useful purpose — providing users with the kind of help they’re seeking.
Why you Should Use Chatbots in Ecommerce
As already mentioned, and to put it simply, chatbots can help eCommerce businesses provide a better user and customer experience. But what exactly does that improved experience look like?
Let’s break it down.
Chatbots can enrich and personalize digital shopping experiences with an omnipresent human touch and an instantaneous nature of a conversational back-and-forth.
Now, we know that AI-based chatbots can sound closer to a human than a rule-based one, but even those can mimic human-to-human conversations pretty well, as long as you follow basic conversational rules. In eCommerce, such conversation can include asking for product recommendations or inquiring about payment and delivery options.
Extended & Active Support
Building a bot can hugely improve the quality of your customer service in a way FAQ pages often fail as the experience is close to speaking with a human agent, but available 24/7.
Having a chatbot on your website, Facebook, WhatsApp, or another channel ensures your customers can contact you at any time, from any place, and the communication is never broken (as long as your Internet connection doesn’t fail.)
If we’re talking about pre-sales inquiries, chatbots offer eCommerce businesses a competitive advantage by allowing 24/7 global support, so that buyers aren’t stuck waiting for human support agent office hours if they have a pre-purchase question they need to be cleared.
The same goes for 24/7 post-sales support. Additionally, if the bot is not able to resolve the issue, it can collect the customer’s data, assess the urgency, and send the query to the appropriate department to be resolved first thing when an agent is available. It's a great way to manage and meet customer expectations.
Ecommerce chatbots keep users effectively engaged throughout the interaction.
They can help users discover new products, offers, and functionalities in a non-salesy conversational manner thanks to their data collection, and hence personalization, capabilities.
Ecommerce chatbots are here to converse and interact seamlessly across multiple digital channels while retaining data and context for a smooth UX and better customer support.
This means that a user can start a purchase on their computer and pick it up later on their phone without losing data or the context of the purchase.
With a conversational eCommerce chatbot, you’ll be able to offer users the possibility to complete the buying process in one single chatbot conversation.
Thanks to the several integrations chatbots can offer, you can easily connect them to your other systems — think everything from CRM to payment software — which translates into a seamless, conversational buying experience.
How to Integrate Chatbots Into Your eCommerce Strategy
Now that we’ve established why chatbots improve the user buying experience, let’s have a look at how exactly you can integrate them into your eCommerce operations to tackle common challenges.
There are several use cases for chatbots in eCommerce, and with consumer expectations changing all the time, you need to ensure that your business meets the kind of standards they expect.
Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment is a big issue for eCommerce businesses. That is to say, consumers add items to their virtual shopping cart and then leave without actually completing the purchase.
According to Antony Chacko, WhatsApp Marketing and eCommerce specialist, “[in] any e-commerce company, there is typically an 85% cart abandonment rate. People add [items] to the cart, fill in the form, but in the last two minutes, 85% of people will not buy.”
This happens because people have doubts, but, as opposed to a physical store where they’d be able to ask a salesperson for assistance, there’s typically no one to ask for help in an online store. It’s not surprising that this is such a big concern for online retailers.
So, eCommerce sites need to find ways of encouraging them to take further steps along the sales process.
A bot can help both simplify the sales process, making it easier for consumers and guiding them along the transaction journey, and ensure that fewer consumers abandon their carts without buying anything.
Assisting Consumers and Suggesting Purchases
Even in a perfectly designed and easy-to-navigate website, a chatbot can make a positive difference by taking consumers straight to what they’re looking for.
It’s worth noting that, according to a survey reported by Forbes, more than 83% of customers need assistance in some way to complete an online purchase. Additionally, 75% of them expect to receive help within just 5 minutes from the beginning of the buying journey.
That is to say that a majority of customers not only need and expect help, but they also expect it to arrive without delays. A chatbot can step in to provide this kind of rapid response, since support agents might not be as readily available.
Ecommerce chatbots can also be deployed to suggest purchases to users based on their previous website browsing history. Your chatbot can notify them with call-to-action messages and useful related purchases after drawing on this previously-collected information.
This way, chatbots can help to drive sales and ensure that customers find more products that are genuinely relevant to their needs.
Collecting Customer Data
As mentioned before, eCommerce chatbots can collect data throughout the conversation that helps them personalize it. This is a valuable feature for each individual interaction, but one that helps your business as a whole, too. The more users engage with your chatbots, the more data the bots acquire, which in turn can be helpful in better understanding what users want from your site.
Customer data can provide you with useful and actionable insights, which you can use to adjust your business to better meet customers' needs.
Chatbots collect data from customers anonymously, and this data can help you understand in more detail how users engage your website. Think of how long they spend browsing, what pages they visit, and so on.
With a clearer picture of what your customers want, you can not only guide them towards those items, driving more sales, but also pivot that to your overall website and strategy, creating a better user experience.
Customer Notifications and Diversified Content
Website chatbot pop-up notifications can be used to remind customers that they’ve got an uncompleted purchase sitting in their virtual shopping cart.
However, eCommerce chatbots can also be used to send users notifications about ongoing or upcoming sales and events that your business is holding. This is particularly useful if you’re using mobile conversational apps chatbots. If a customer has already closed your website tab, these notifications are pointless.
By resorting to mobile options such as WhatsApp bots, you can notify them at any time about special sales or new products on a channel where they’ll easily be able to complete a purchase thanks to the previously mentioned integration capabilities.
Not just that, but a chatbot relies on much more than text to interact with users. It can easily share images, videos, or GIFs, making it a more attractive option than, say, SMS, to let buyers know about a certain product or promotion.
In addition to opening up business opportunities, content sent by a conversational app chatbot is much more shareable, making it more likely to be sent from one person to the next. Customers are presented with more engaging content and, if they like it, that content becomes more likely to be sent along to the next person who could potentially become a customer.
This brings us to this very important point — chatbots can be a valuable aid in acquiring more customers.
Pop-up chat bubbles or personalized chatbot surveys can help turn website visitors into paying customers. And, given the immense popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp, mobile chatbots can do the same by interacting with users via the channels they already use on a daily basis — their phones — which increases buying chances.
To Wrap Up
As you can see, there are many advantages to adding a chatbot to your eCommerce business.
They are an easy way to be at the forefront of digitalization and keep up with customers' needs and expectations. What’s more, they can be there at every step of the buying journey, driving engagement, assisting users, and boosting sales and customer satisfaction.
The benefits for business are undeniable, so, what are you waiting for?
Hopefully, this guide has helped give you that final push towards implementing a chatbot in your eCommerce business and provide you with useful information.