In the digital world that has seen a shift in people spending more time from social media to messaging apps, eCommerce chatbots have become integral to businesses being able to provide customers with the business-to-customer dialogue that has sorely been missing in yesteryears’ online shopping experience.
The phrase, “There’s an app for that,” has never been more true.
Chatbots are programs that facilitate e-commerce on messaging platforms, simulating the conversations between businesses and their customers. Its technology stems from the marriage of two trends—the ever increasing popularity of messaging apps and the leaps artificial intelligence technology has taken in recent years.
Whether you’re looking to run your own travel agency or sell clothes online, you can use bots to make your business run smoother. And the sky’s the limit when you think about what chatbots can do for you as an e-commerce entrepreneur.
And with the increasing number of bot developers, the technology has allowed for the customization of chatbots for virtually any messaging app, as well as a myriad of functions, an e-commerce biz may prefer.
“I don’t know anyone who likes calling a business. And no one wants to install a new app for every business or service that they interact with. We think you should be able to message a business, in the same way you would message a friend.” -Mark Zuckerberg, F8 in 2016
Here Are 5 Ways eCommerce Chatbots Can Boost Your Online Biz
Sales and Customer Support
Chatbots can perform a slew of functions within a messaging app, as pioneered by Chinese app WeChat, which has made it normal for online entrepreneurs to forego having their own website, and instead just create their own WeChat account. Some of the things bots can do with regard to sales and customer support include:
- Food delivery
- Ticket purchases
- Paying bills
- Booking appointments
On Messenger, for example, fashion brand Spring allows you to stay in-app and go shopping by typing just that: “go shopping.” Its bot then asks you basic questions like whether you’re looking for men’s or women’s items; clothing, shoes or accessories; and even the price range you prefer.
Operator – a portal that allows international shoppers to purchase authentic goods from the US – positions itself as a “request network” that connects users with a network of “operators” that essentially acts as concierges that can perform virtually any shopping-related requests.
As noted by Venturebeat.com, you can just ask for a suggestion on what colorful plant works well in a well-lit room and Operator’s team – made up of in-house employees, in-store reps and brand reps – then respond with recommendations aligned with the user’s query.
Another popular messaging app that’s bought in to “conversational commerce” is Kik—a popular choice among the 13-24-year-old demographic with 275 million monthly active users.
Kik provides a basic look at how chatbots serves as sales and customer support, asking you a number of rudimentary questions and creating a personal profile of your preferences from your responses. The bot can even create an outfit inspiration based from those same choices.
Research and Analytics Assistant
With the continually increasing advancements in chatbot technology, thousands of chatbots now populate the digital world. But, as with any online marketing tool, measuring its effectiveness is almost as important as the tool itself—and this is where Dashbot – a program that provides “actionable bot analytics” comes in with their promise of increased user engagement, acquisition and monetization. In essence, it’s the Google Analytics of bots.
Additional functions of Dashbot include:
- Providing actionable data in the form of text, voice, images, locations and other content
- Ability to sense customer frustration (through voice), and interject a human agent when needed
- Ability to segment audience based on usage metrics, and use those to send applicable promotions
Personal Marketing Assistant
There’s a reason Shopify purchased Kit – a virtual employee that performs concierge-style tasks. From creating Facebook and Instagram ads (complete with accurate audience targeting) and posting new products and promos on your Facebook page, to sending ‘Thank You’ emails and creating business reports for a quick glimpse at sales figures, Kit is a virtual employee that is allowed to take care of the small, yet tedious tasks that take away from entrepreneurs’ much-needed time and focus.
Send Subscription and Automated Messages
Similarly, bots can take care of the above tasks –furthering it by sending regular, and more personal messages (as opposed to emails, which have a tendency to be ignored). This can also include a call-to-action, where they can make a purchase right within the chat.
And of course, it wouldn’t make sense to be able to do all that you can with a bot within an app and not be able to complete the transaction by being able to pay within the chat.
Snapchat and Facebook are pioneers in this regard, with the former launching virtual wallet – Snapcash.
Snapcash allows users to store their card information on the app and send money to contacts through messaging. Facebook, for its part, has allowed for the processing of peer-to-peer payments, integrating a similar feature in Messenger.
Although traditional online marketing techniques is still as essential as ever in earning your first 1 million dollars, your business should also be on par with the developments in technology and your customers’ trends.
As exciting as the recent developments in chatbot technology have been, its capability will only expand as more and more people opt in to the idea. The way bots can make you feel like you’re talking to a personal contact, as opposed to a business, is its most magnetic draw.
The shift from spending time on social media to messaging apps is presently being called a trend. And while that may be the case, at its core, the development rests in people’s age-old yearning and preference for actual, personal conversations—which could make the trend, here to stay.