Will E-Commerce Chatbots Live Up To Retailer’s Expectations?

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Chatbots are hands down the hottest artificial intelligence (AI) topic right now. The new tide of AI programming has hit numerous industries, and in the e-commerce sector, entrepreneurs hope that it will lift their boats. The expectations are as high as a kite, but are these strange effigies able to meet them?

Well, before answering that, we must take a look at what they are.

Chatbots are automated programs that take on mundane and repetitive work such as answering customer queries. They interact with people at a much faster rate than humans via voice or text input. Their surge is the result of an ongoing evolution of AI and machine learning (ML) that never seizes to amaze us with new capabilities.

Will E-Commerce Chatbots Live Up To Retailer's Expectations?Breaking New Ground

Chatbots facilitate online transactions and open up new growth opportunities. They handle interactions with customers and simulate the experience that they have in a retail store. Nowadays, the AI is capable of providing product descriptions, comparisons, and recommendations as well as answering FAQs. The goal is to refine user experience and upgrade customer journeys. In the process, sales are automated and customer service taken to a whole new level. But, chatbots do not just cut operational costs and boost efficiency.

They take us to the unmarked frontier where new, remarkable things are possible: They bridge the gap between online shopping and “conversational commerce”. In other words, chatbots allow us today to attain something that was previously out of reach. We are finally in a position to deliver that much-needed personal touch to the sterile world of online shopping.

The Race Is On

Many would agree that chatbots best serve as nimble problem-solvers, which is why we already have weather, news, groceries, life advice, and personal finance bots. What is more, established companies compete who will better monetize AI and chatbot technology.

Microsoft assembled a Bot Framework to support programmers build chatbots. Facebook has made an effort to improve its system with more structured messages regarding calls-to-action, descriptions, images, and URLs. Another tech behemoth, Google, developed a messaging app that integrates its assistant. Amazon’s Alexa is a well-known AI paragon, which can handle a slew of basic tasks. Of course, the list of chatbot implementation techniques and leading technology options does not end here. Nowadays, chatbots can even replace the “Contact Us” page completely.

Rules Of The Game

But, how does this all work? Well, the backbone of a chatbot program is composed of several building blocks. The four mainstays that enable chatbots to interact with humans via simple chat are rules, workflows, AI technology, and ML. Rules and workflows are related to business scenarios that an e-commerce organization aspires to automate. They are usually an integral part of a business app, although they need to be transformed into conversational steps, with embedded rules in between them.

Will E-Commerce Chatbots Live Up To Retailer's Expectations?Furthermore, to bring tangible results, bots must be integrated into backend frames. After all, they rely on carefully tailored journeys and conversation flows and trees. They guide their “decisions” and funnel them towards a specific answer or recommendation. Moreover, data permits chatbots to recognize shopper’s intent and offer a response instantly, which pays dividends in the world of short attention spans and high consumer expectations.


Learning Never Ends

Next, we must address the Natural Learning Processing (NLP), a technology that makes the mapping of human input and actions possible. The system behind it is rather complex, but at its core lie processing utterances, intents, entities, and context. So, if an utterance is a textual input, the intent refers to action a customer wants to perform, while context poses a pool of information generated by the interaction.

Using NLP, e-commerce businesses create robust conversation models and usually integrate it with multiple channels like Skype, Messenger, and text messages. Likewise, the chat interface can be translated into existing mobile applications or utilized by developing a web client. Thus, there are various options when it comes to making good use of the conversational interface. The final, missing ingredient is connecting them to data sources and putting together a dynamic and context-specific matrix of information.

Killing IT Softly

Chatbots are a real game-changer. They have taken the world of e-commerce by the storm, fueled by some hard rules and software prowess. The surge in this sector echoes the goings-on in the dynamic AI ecosystem, which is expanding at a rapid rate, encompassing ever new possibilities. It is clear that those who mean to stay in touch with the customers and fill the void in their wants and needs must make the most of the chatbot revolution.

Finally, it should be noted that improving dialogue with the customers is an ongoing process. The cutting-edge workings of chatbots are constantly being fine-tuned, so strive to keep up the pace to stay on top of the game. There is little doubt that bot-guided commerce with the conversational interface is the present and the future of e-commerce.



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Image Credit: Stella Saroyan