Chatbots can spark engagement (and sales)


September 2017—

If you’ve debated adding a chatbot to your website, now might be time to pull the trigger. Chatbots have been rapidly gaining popularity in the last few years. According to industry observer Retail Wire, 25 percent of U.S. consumers use chatbots daily, and that figure spikes to 40 percent among Millennials.

Still not convinced? Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said positive interactions with chatbots make them buy more, a trend that should perk up retailers’ ears.

HFA member Dunk & Bright furniture in Syracuse schedules employees around the clock to man their chatbot for shoppers who know no rest and want answers, but most larger retailer chatbots are driven by artificial intelligence.

Large brands like H&M and eBay have been using chatbots in various ways. When customers tell H&M’s bot what they’re looking for, it will build an outfit for them based on personal preferences. Ebay takes the “chatbot as a personal assistant” model and applies it to its whole catalog, including enhanced search functionality, the main benefit being the chatbot remembers personalized information like the customer’s sizes. Anker and Kia also use chatbots to guide purchasing decisions and drive context-driven exploration of their products. The bots are well-received due to their simplicity, personalization and mobile engagement.

Since so many customers are making decisions on mobile, chatbots will start gaining more traction in the retail space in the next year as retailers start experimenting with new methods. Right now, chatbots already have potential to reduce staff workloads by enabling large scale delivery of useful information, and in the future, will be able to answer more complex questions. All this opens the door for retailers to spend more time on other strategic initiatives.

For a revenue stream to scale, retailers and brands need high consumer adoption and consumers are clearly grasping onto the idea of chatbots. Retail Wire also pointed to a chatbot report earlier this year that suggests this artificial intelligence technology isn’t a fad, but an actual trend. Of the 2,000 consumers interviewed, 35 percent said they want more businesses to adopt chatbots.