The pace of modern technological development is such that businesses are finding it more and more difficult to stay ahead of the curve.

New devices, software, and techniques are emerging every day. It is tough to figure out which ones are worth embracing, and which are just a passing fad.

One of the more popular technologies that retailers have started implementing to better connect with consumers are chatbots. Chatbots have been around in various forms for a while now. If you’re thinking of using chatbots for your business, this is the best time. AI, machine learning and the availability of data make this the golden age for chatbot interactions.

Businesses that use them, like Wonder Beauty, are seeing a 17% rate of engagement online, as compared to the industry standard of 2%. And as we know, more engagements can lead to more conversions.

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Chatbot Basics

At the basic level, a chatbot is a computer program that is designed to perform conversations with human actors. Chatbots are typically hosted on instant messaging services such as Facebook Messenger. However, you can also embed them into websites, or integrate them into more complex software systems such as virtual assistants or even video games.

Chatbots range in sophistication from simple applications with a small number of predefined conversation paths to advanced AI-powered programs that closely mimic the way people talk every day.

There are several approaches to developing chatbots. One is to code them yourself from the ground up in a language such as Python. Another would be to use a bot development framework such as IBM Watson. Non-developers can use bot creation tools such as Botsify to assemble custom chatbots by modifying existing templates.

Finally, pre-built chatbots can be purchased from companies such as Servisbot. There are several advantages to using chatbots in retail, including:

  • Cost-effectiveness – it costs less to set up and maintain a chatbot than it would to hire additional personnel for performing the same tasks.
  • Novelty – chatbots are still a novelty as far as technology goes, which makes the general audience more likely to engage with them.
  • Multi-tasking – chatbots can easily interact with more people at once. This makes them ideal for use in scenarios where there is a shortage of staff and an excess of customers.
  • Versatility – you can program chatbots to perform a wide variety of conversation-based tasks, making them useful in different kinds of marketing campaigns.

There is a concern that chatbots might eventually end up taking over jobs from people working in retail. This is true to a certain extent. However, the kinds of tasks that chatbots are good at involve a lot of repetitive work which most people would find undesirable.

So while chatbots will likely start cropping up more and more in the sales and marketing departments, they will not be taking jobs away from people any time soon.

Promotional Strategies Involving Chatbots

The success of a retail business depends on its ability to attract, engage, and convert consumers. Chatbots can help you achieve these goals. While it is up to each individual retailer to determine how to best use chatbots, there are a number of promotional strategies that have proven to be effective on multiple occasions. We will go over some of them, to help you come up with an approach that works for your particular business needs.

Customer Service

Customer service departments frequently use chatbots to provide answers to common queries. In contrast to their human counterparts, customer service chatbots can attend to multiple people at once. This is especially useful during busy periods such as holiday seasons.

Some consumers even seem to prefer chatbots to live service reps. Whether this due to the novelty or due to the fact that they are more consistent when providing answers, they’re preferred!

Notifications

Hooking up a chatbot to a database that contains your inventory gives it the ability to instantly notify customers when a product they are interested in becomes available. This saves customers a lot of guesswork when they visit a retail store.

Since chatbots are commonly hosted on instant messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, you can have these notifications delivered straight to their phones.

Recommendations

If you supply a chatbot with enough customer data, you can have them act as recommendation engines for consumers. Chatbots such as these can provide suggestions on which products to purchase. Your chatbots can make recommendations based on general purchase trends, currently active sales, or other criteria you choose.

Purchases

Some advanced chatbots can do more than just converse with customers. They can also follow rudimentary commands, such as placing an order upon customer request. This can save a lot of time, allowing customers to simply pick up the items the chatbot ordered. These self-service features make chatbots especially popular among millennials and Gen Zers.

Directions

You can fit chatbots onto terminals in retail objects in order to provide assistance to customers on the ground level. They can inform customers about sales, promotions, and other kinds of events currently going on, and then provide directions on how to reach them. They can also act as more conventional guides by providing directions around retail objects such as malls and stores.

Conclusion

That tech has a very prominent role to play in retail is becoming more and more obvious by the day. You might already be using some form of modern technology to handle your retail business better. Why not explore chatbots for more conversions?

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Author Bio: Michael is a marketing manager by day, working in the vastly growing industry of AI. He is also a huge Lakers fan and is keen to perfect the art of keeping his desk less messy. The topics he most often blogs about including the rise of chatbots, the future of communication, and AI process automation as a way to streamline productivity. 

Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.