AI chatbots offer more than simple conversation – Chain Store Age

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AI chatbots have multiple uses for retailers.


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As the retail industry looks toward the year ahead, many businesses are exploring how AI can help them deliver a better customer experience, and a better bottom line. 

AI can be thoughtfully introduced into different stages of the customer journey, and its potential to transform the customer experience is unprecedented.

Engagement without interruption

Nearly a quarter of all retail sales are expected to be online by 2026, according to eMarketer data. With e-commerce continuing its exponential growth, retailers may find themselves struggling to keep up with web traffic and customer queries. An AI chatbot can be a helpful tool in managing this growing customer demand. 

Beyond simply helping to manage traffic, it can automate common or repetitive tasks and support live customer service agents. And it’s available round the clock, giving customers personalized assistance anytime they need it. In a fast-paced e-commerce setting, where Adobe data indicates the average bounce rate is between 20-45%, a chatbot can act as a virtual concierge, guiding your customers through their purchase and preventing them from leaving your site empty-handed.

Tailored recommendations and upsell opportunities

AI chatbots can also leverage customer analytics to offer effective, personalized recommendations. A conversational AI chatbot, powered by natural language processing (NLP), can engage your customers in a dialogue. It can quickly understand your customers’ preferences, find what they’re looking for, and guide them through the purchase decision. 

In addition, leveraging your visitors’ browsing history and the items in their cart, a chatbot can suggest complementary products or services, effectively turning a casual shopper into a valuable customer. Intelligently triggering chatbots at the checkout stage opens even more possibilities for upselling in future.

Rescuing the abandoned cart

Abandoned carts are the scourge of online retailers, with around 70% of U.S. shopping carts left deserted, according to the Baymard Institute. AI chatbots can be invaluable here by intervening at critical moments in the purchase cycle. Implementing targeted messages at key friction points, such as at checkout, can give customers assistance if they need it or incentivize a purchase by offering them a last-minute discount. 

A well-integrated AI chatbot can even help facilitate live chat with a customer service agent to offer potential buyers real-time support, addressing their concerns about such things as delivery times and return policies. 

Amplifying ROI

Bringing AI technology into your retail environment doesn’t need to be challenging or time-consuming. Many companies can implement a conversational AI chatbot in as little as four to six weeks. Powered by machine learning, these are powerful tools that improve the more your customers use them. 

The impact of an AI chatbot can extend well beyond its utility for customer support. By harnessing the capabilities of AI to engage, assist and personalize the customer experience, retailers are fostering an enduring relationship with their customers. And they’re planting the seeds for future growth.

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