It was not that long ago when people used to abhor talking to automated systems. Do you remember the days of “If you want xxx, hit 1 on your dial. If you want xxx, hit 2 on your dial, etc.” Customer service for companies was a battle to get to a real person and seemed like a timewaster and a wall to keep you from the help that you needed right then.
Companies having real people helping out right from the start could use this as a sales point of differentiation to attract new customers in marketing campaigns. These days, however, the AI available and in use is quickly changing this and consumers are receptive to this new and smarter automated customer service that often includes chatbots.
It has gotten to the point, as the chatbots have gained capabilities, where many consumers prefer to interact with a chatbot because they get solutions faster and can avoid a real person.
This sea change has been studied by a company who monitored how chatbots and AI are used now and how it will be used in coming years for retail businesses. That company is Juniper Research.
Their results showed clearly that the AI and chatbot phenomenon is more than a novelty. Indeed, in the coming years, those that don’t adapt and integrate these tools will fall behind.
So Just How Can Chatbots & AI Help Your Retail & E-commerce Business?
Watching the video above, you can see just how these chatbots and in the case of the SMART Chatbots adding in a 3-D avatar with your message can help all retail and e-commerce businesses.
These days more and more shopping is done online. This means that you have to have a well-designed and mobile responsive website as this is a key factor drive more sales.
Once you have the website in place, having such a chatbot built in on the site can then help keep the prospects on your page and turn them into paying customers.
Every business can use this technology, and here are a few common ways it is being used right now to leverage and boost bottom lines for companies:
- Customer Sales Representative – When you have pre-built responses ready, the chatbot can quickly answer many customer questions while they are shopping. This keeps customers interested and they are more likely to follow through with their purchase because they are getting an immediate response. It is like having a sales representative right there with them as they would get in a brick and mortar store.
- Tracking and Upselling Previous Customers – If you have a return customer, the chatbot can review what the customer has bought previously and make recommendations for more related products. This will also work for items they may have in their cart too. These are items that they otherwise may not have considered. The best time to sell them more is when they are already sold on something.
- Additional Sales By Retargeting Abandoned Carts -It is a fact that many customers will leave the page for one reason or another, but still have items in their cart. A gentle reminder sent automatically to their email or via a push notification can often be just the push they need to come back and complete that purchase.
- Flash Sales, Instant Discounts, Gaming Freebies, and Loyalty Campaigns – Chatbots and AI can provide all of your return or first-time visitors an “exclusive” discount code or limited time offer. This can help close the purchase they may be wavering over and it feels like they are getting a special and personalized deal.
It all amounts to having more data to help your customer through the purchase process. You can improve the organizations understanding of demand forecasting and customer intent with chatbots and AI on several levels (i.e. an individual customer or a group of customers). This then can help you personalize your messaging, better meet consumer needs, and get the right offer to the right person at the right time.
What Is The Future for Chatbots?
Going back to that Juniper Researcher’s study, it clearly shows some trends that all online marketers need to pay attention to. In a nutshell, chatbots on websites will only become more advanced as time goes on, and they are not a fad that is going to fade away at all.
Rather, they are going to become the norm, and shoppers are going to expect to have access to them when they shop online.
Here is where they are at now with retail sales: By the end of 2019, retail sales from chatbot-based customer interactions will likely hit over $7 billion, and that is just the start. The numbers going forward are even more startling.
They have forecasted that this sales number will almost double every year over the next 3 years as AI and the chatbot algorithms continue to become better at anticipating consumer needs.
As of 2023, they expect chatbots will be assisting customers to the tune of nearly $112 billion in purchases. (That is nothing to sneeze at nor can you afford not to get a piece of that!)
There is another factor that is less evident but just as important. You will realize more sales, but you will also cut down on your overhead, as you will need fewer people to provide customer support and service. Chatbots and AI can provide major cost savings for retail business owners.
The numbers they found are startling in this area as well. When you automate customer service interactions currently being handled by live customer service representatives, they estimate that retail businesses will save $7 million in 209, and by 2023, the cost savings are expected to rise exponentially to a whopping $439 billion.
So here is my question…
Do You Think You Can Afford NOT To Invest In ChatBot and AI Technology?
The people who carried out the study at Juniper don’t think you can…
They state that those retailers who choose not to adapt are putting themselves at real risk:
“ Retailers will face an AI adoption race, where AI-equipped retailers, which have adopted systems as early movers will displace slower moving retailers, because they offer a superior service at optimised price points.”
So now that the cat is out of the bag, and chatbots and AI are proving popular with customers and saving companies money and adding to their bottom lines, this is a trend that is not going away.
Customers today are looking for fast, easy, and accurate answers to their questions, and Chatbots and AI technology can deliver this while saving money and increasing sales. It is all about the UX (user experience). If you meet that demand and improve the user experience, you ultimately will win the business.
Do These Findings Apply To More Market Segments?
The study that Juniper conducted was specific to the retail industry, but it provides lessons for all B2B, service-based businesses, and businesses of every size – the main one is that you must adapt or risk losing to competitors that do.
I do not believe that real people will ever be taken completely out of the support and sales process, but there is a more immediate need than ever just to answer pointed questions immediately for the consumer, and chatbots and AI technology can do that better and faster.
Note the personal touch that chatbots offer means that even if the information they can get may already be on your website, you are making them feel special when they can get some answers without searching for it.
So bottom line, you know what is coming and how it will affect your business, so it is smart to prepare right now your strategy that will work for your business. It is better to be proactive than reactive, and this way you can help shape the future.
If you are ready to take your business to the next level when it comes to sales and customer support, I invite you to set up a consultation appointment with us and we will get you started quickly with our SMART Chatbot Services. Check it out!
Things are changing in how retail sales online are sipported, as well as how customer service support is provided. Customers today are demanding more instant service and answers and they have adapted to using chatbots and interacting with businesses using AI technology.
You as a business owner must adapt or perish, or minimally realize that you are going to see a diminishing share of sales in your niche as your competitors adopt these new technoligies and save money and make more sales that you are not getting. It really is an easy choice.
Let us help you get the technology and system in place now for your business and stay ahead of the competition. You can be the one that is grabbing more of the business and seen as a cutting edge company that is taing care of its customers. Sign up at our SMART Chatbot Application site to get started today!
CEO, Soariing Eagle LLC
Project Manager – SMART Chatbots