Differentiation is a requirement for any company to be successful today but with more and more companies selling the same products, to the same audience, with nearly identical products, product differentiation becomes a challenge. And this isn’t just a problem for business owners – it also affects customers. How do customers decide which product to buy when the offerings are nearly identical in most aspects?
Simple – customer experience. Shoppers choose the vendor that has better customer service and this is especially true for the eCommerce industry.
Relationship Marketing on Budget
There are quite a few ways for eCommerce stores to up their customer service but almost all of them require a significant upfront investment which is usually out of most startups’ budgets. Thankfully, there’s an alternative – AI chatbots.
Chatbots, and conversational technology in general, have been severely overlooked by business owners, especially in legacy businesses. And as a business owner myself, I can understand why others do not want to invest in chatbots – it’s a (relatively) new form of marketing and not everyone wants to divert resources into it. But for eCommerce stores, chatbot technology is a form of marketing that has become indispensable – it’s relationship marketing on a budget.
Relationship marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing and involves developing a one-on-one relationship with the customer. This is what most salespeople do at brick-and-mortar shops. But as you can imagine, mimicking a similar customer experience isn’t easy on an online platform like a Shopify storefront, and yet it is extremely important because according to LivePerson’s Connecting with Consumers report 83 percent of online shoppers from around the world to require some assistance during shopping. This figure is even higher for certain demographics like seniors.
So how do you ensure your customers get that assistance without hiring a full-time sales team? Well, as I said, one surprisingly effective (and underrated) method is to use AI chatbots.
Providing Better Customer Service with eCommerce Chatbots
In my experience, many business executives tend to dismiss chatbots because “it’s easy to tell them apart from humans”. But here’s the thing – it will take some time before the average eCommerce chatbot can pass the Turing test but that should not be a dealbreaker.
Chatbots are useful to online shoppers because some assistance is better than none and chatbots are instant. No waiting, no long queues, and hold times. In a world where three-second loading times are enough to turn off visitors – speed is huge. In fact, a majority (71 percent) of online shoppers use chatbots to solve their problems quickly.
The other issue executives have with chatbots is that they have limited functionality and are very primitive – 100 percent false. This is just another misconception in the world of conversational tech.
Chatbots Have Changed a Lot
Over the past few years, chatbots have grown in two different directions. On one end of the spectrum, conversational tech proliferation means that chatbot technology is more accessible and affordable. On the other end, chatbots are continuously becoming more and more advanced with the integration of natural language processing (NLP) tech in AI chatbots, allowing them to better understand customers. Google, Apple, and Amazon are all pouring big dollars into conversational tech and a lot of this innovation has trickled down to consumer chatbots.
Google, in particular, is significantly helping drive consumer chatbot technology with its Cloud Natural Language API and the advanced capabilities that come with it, including Syntax Analysis, Entity Recognition, and Sentiment Analysis.
So what does this all mean for you – the business owner? Two things. First, chatbots are no longer limited. In fact, they’re the opposite. Conversational technology is so versatile today that you can build all sorts of chatbots (scroll down to see examples). The second thing is that chatbots are now more affordable. In fact, you can build your own chatbot for free (and without knowing how to code). Alternatively, you can hire agencies who are only dedicated to leveraging the most advanced processes in conversational tech to build chatbots that deliver results. Either way, it will be affordable for what it provides.
What Successful eCommerce Chatbots Look Like (5 Examples)
You already know what conventional chatbots look like but over the years, I’ve come across some extraordinary applications of the conversation technology in the eCommerce industry – truly out of the box implementations. And every single one of them was a successful investment for the company.
Here are five examples of what successful eCommerce chatbots look like:
1. Sephora Virtual Artist
Sephora has two chatbots on Facebook Messenger: Sephora Reservation Assistant and the far more interesting, Sephora Virtual Artist. The former is a chatbot in the more conventional sense in that it talks to the customer and helps them set up an appointment quickly – very useful.
Sephora Virtual Artist, on the other hand, is an innovative app inside an easily accessible chatbot. The chatbot helps customers see what specific shades of lipstick would look like on a person. Shoppers can also find similar lipsticks by uploading a picture.
Snaptravel offers a complete travel agent experience inside a chatbot – available on three platforms (SMS, Facebook, and WhatsApp). Similar to Sephora Virtual Artist, Snaptravel is offering a standalone app-level of functionality, through a chatbot – pretty neat.
Aerie is a bot developed by America Eagle Outfitters and shows how eCommerce stores can be creative in their communication. Instead of a traditional “Press 1 for Yes” approach, Aerie sends two pictures (stamped “This” and “That”), giving the customer a side-by-side comparison of the products as well as a more interactive shopping experience.
4. HelloFresh’s Freddy
Freddy FreshBot is another example of how eCommerce store owners can get creative with customer engagement. Along with the usual help regarding meal deliveries, Freddy is a chatbot that gives consumers healthy recipes, food quizzes, and even sends them reminders.
5. Subway (RCS)
This is an example of Google’s new form of business messaging called RCS (a new version of SMS, if you will). Though it still hasn’t replaced SMS entirely, it’s certainly a better alternative in all ways. Subway managed to increase its conversions by 140 percent on sandwiches and 51 percent on meal deals through this innovative approach to business messaging.
And there we have it – five of the best eCommerce chatbots in 2020 that show exactly what eCommerce business owners like yourself can do with an innovative chatbot.