Chatbots have transformed the way we interact with the online world. These specialized computer programs based on AI and Natural Language Processing have already been put to use in many industries: eCommerce being just one of them.
You’ve made a good choice deciding to give chatbots a go and implement one to your online shop. Your chatbot can be there for customers in a number of ways: to boost social media engagement; affect purchasing decisions; find products; extend customer support, and streamline sales.
There are a few things you need to take care off if you want to make this process more efficient. This is why we offer you some simple advice on how to effectively implement a custom chatbot to an online shop.
ChatBots Are Already Successful Across Multiple Verticals
Chatbots are powered by AI. Not long ago this technology was reserved only for big players in the industry, such as Google, IBM, and Amazon. Chatbots have brought something new to the AI landscape though. They allow businesses to easily use this cutting-edge tech and add it to multiple messaging platforms: Slack, Viber, Skype, Facebook, and many others.
In fact, the global revenue from AI is expected to reach $37 billion by 2020. As it seems, online shops are responsible for this revenue growth. Online chatbots have been successfully implemented by eBay, Sephora, H&M, Pizza Hut, and other renowned notable retailers.
Retail is not the only vertical that reaps the benefits of chatbots, many others have jumped aboard the chatbot train, including health, finance, hospitality, entertainment, and other industries.
Choose a Platform for Bot Creation
To get your own custom chatbot, you will have to create it. You can find all the tools that you’ll need for this process on the chatbot platforms. This, of course, applies to those of you who don’t have the resources and skills needed to create a chatbot from scratch.
Chatbot platforms come with an already set up backend, including working AI, NLP, and support for bot integration into multiple channels. As a user, you will be able to create powerful custom-tailored chatbots by using an intuitive dashboard.
There’s a lot to think about when choosing the right chatbot building platform for your business. Some will allow you to quickly make your bot for a very low price: less than $500. On the other hand, the more expensive platforms have significantly more features and powerful NLP when compared to the cheaper solutions.
It’s also important to go with a platform that incorporates easy-to-use bot testing tools. You will need these once you’ve created your bot to see how it performs in the designated channels. Testing and debugging your bot early on will ensure that it provides a delightful experience to your customers.
Identify Your Goals
Building and implementing a chatbot just because it’s a trend won’t get you as far as you might have planned. You won’t have the clearly defined KPIs to track the efficiency of your implementation process or see how the bot is performing. Before you start building your custom chatbot, you’ll have to clearly define your business goals.
What do you want your new AI-powered hire to help you with? For instance, if your goal is to drive sales, then you will need to build a bot that enables direct sales. On the other hand, if you want to boost your CRM efforts, you will need a chatbot that can seamlessly assist your customers whenever they need help.
ECommerce businesses use chatbots in a number of different ways:
- Delivering shipping information – informing the customers of the date and time scheduled for delivery is a great way to build trust, and personalize the connection between them and the company.
- Direct sales – allowing the customers to order their goods online with a simple touch of a button in their preferred communication channel is a great way to boost sales and make the online purchase process as streamlined as it gets.
- Upselling and Cross-selling – chatbots are used to push mass messages and inform the customers about new products and services that might interest them based on their past purchases.
- Customer support – chatbots are standing by to reply to the questions of distressed customers, thus greatly improving customer satisfaction and retention rates.
Introduce Your Bot’s Features Gradually
When building a custom chatbot, you should consider adding new features and introducing them gradually to the customers. This practice will benefit both you and your customers. First of all, every chatbot platform has a learning curve – it may not be steep, but it’s still there.
By starting with the simple features, you’ll have time to master the art of chatbot building before you start adding new, more complex ones. On the other hand, your customers won’t be overwhelmed and confused by the addition of a new and overly complex digital assistant. You will give them time and space to learn how to communicate and use your new chatbot.
Not to mention the testing phase, which is much easier when you have to test and fine-tune just one feature. Testing your bot this way will ensure that every feature works perfectly before you start building and adding a new one.
A perfect example of this is the chatbot of the British clothing brand Burberry. When it was launched, it only allowed customers to take a behind-the-scenes peek and learn about the upcoming collections. In the following months, Burberry introduced the Explore Gifts and Pre-order Pieces features.
Shortly after, their bot was able to invite the company’s Facebook fans to watch their runway show. Today, the Burberry chatbot is able to answer customer service questions, but also enable customers to browse through all the available collections.
Keep Track of the Performance and Interactions to Improve Weak Points
Your work isn’t done when you build your first chatbot and integrate it in the target communication channels. Look at this next assignment as the extension to the testing phase, as you will need to track its performance and interactions so that you can perfect it.
There is no such thing as a perfect chatbot. If you take testing and analytics seriously, you will always be able to identify weak points that can be improved upon and features that can be fine-tuned. This is why you should take complete advantage of the analytics tools.
Look at how customers communicate with your chatbot, identify what causes them to drop out of the communication, and find out what your customers need but your bot is unable to deliver.
You can use Google’s Chatbase.com to accurately determine where the conversations are breaking down. This Google service will return powerful reports that include retention rates and the performance of each conversion funnel – in your case, a communication channel. You will also be able to analyze the customers’ intents and discover new ways for your chatbot to astonish them.
Payments via Bots
Modern chatbots are capable of handling your customers’ payments. This is one of the features that you should really consider implementing early on. After all, you are in the online retail business, and your new assistant should be able to process payments.
The process of adding a payment process to the chatbot differs from platform to platform. Snatchbot, for instance, supports the in-bot payments via PayPal. The process of adding this feature is straightforward and quick.
If you decide to pursue this opportunity, make sure that the chatbot platform doesn’t store the payment details of your customers. You want an option that uses enterprise-grade security and complies with all the regulations.
Chatbots have become common assistants in the eCommerce industry. The new communication and online purchasing trends have driven their success. In fact, 40% of customers want to receive special offers and deals from chatbots, while 20% are willing to consider spending more than $400 by purchasing goods and services from a chatbot.
After implementing a chatbot, the chief technology officer at the renowned clothing and lingerie retailer, American Eagle Outfitters, came back with an incredible report. According to his statement, chatbots helped AEO acquire more than double the average number of users AOE used to acquire throughout all of their social channels combined.
It’s hard to dispute figures like that. If you are in the retail business, then clearly chatbots are going to be a part of your future.
Oisin is a software engineer based in Galway, Ireland with a special interest in chatbots. He is the author of Chatbots: An Introduction And Easy Guide To Making Your Own.