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Chatbots in E-commerce – All you need to know

Lately, we’ve had numerous client inquiries about chatbots, their effectiveness and the way they operate. Many of them were associated with the ratio of their usefulness and profitability in the business. Whether we want to admit it or not, chatbots have become the new ‘’hype’’ in E-commerce. Every novelty is a possible method to improve business performance and competitiveness on the market. Chatbots do not differ from this, but their performance depends on many different factors which should be included in the process of implementation.

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Let’s take a look at some of the questions posted.

How do chatbots work?

A chatbot is software designed to simulate human conversation for different purposes and applications. There are two different types of Chatbots:

  • ones based on pre-written scripts, functioning on a set of rules
  • ones that use machine learning (AI-artificial intelligence) – The latter ones mimic human conversation and are constantly getting smarter and learning new things from the interaction. Bots make it possible for your brand to be more personal, proactive, and more streamlined.

Where can I use them?

You can use chatbots on multiple platforms. With the rapid expansion of mobile shopping, they have become especially popular on social media. Messaging applications like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Snapchat or Slack all have the ability to integrate chatbots.

Apart from messaging platforms, more webshops and websites choose to incorporate chatbots for the improvement of certain business segments. Even E-bay, one of the largest e-commerce platforms for auctions and selling, took an early advantage of this trend and implemented the chatbot ‘’shopping expert’’ with the Facebook Messenger app.

Larger web shops require several admins due to the number of orders, while chatbots can simultaneously handle several thousand different customers and all of their inquiries and orders. The direct result of this process is the automatization of product ordering which can reduce the scope of work for web admins.

How can chatbots affect my business?

The possibilities for chatbot usage are widespread. From advertising, virtual assistance, education, entertainment to customer service/support and product ordering. Nowadays, chatbots have become so advanced they can even take care of food delivery, purchasing tickets, ordering Uber, scheduling appointments, money transactions, or paying bills.

In e-commerce, chatbots can be very helpful on multiple levels and provide a complete shopping service. You can use them for accurate and quick product searches. They can simultaneously handle more product orders from multiple customers, therefore speeding up the ordering and shipping process. In addition, you can even pay for your purchased products directly via chatbot so your customers have a complete and integrated shopping experience.

How to take care of your chatbot and what skills will you need to properly maintain its health?

Chatbots need to be nurtured like any other software. You need daily automatic monitoring of its availability. Also, one developer should always be “on-ready-state” to take care of potential bugs. Assistance response rate is expected within one business day, although some crucial chatbots on large eCommerce platforms should have 24/7 support from multiple developers.

Chatbots VS community managers – will they become redundant?

In short – No. Chatbots are not the universal replacement for online community managers, web developers and people who maintain external communication with customers. What they can be is a useful tool for e-commerce improvement and cost reduction. The concept of AI Chatbots is still in its early days. They can’t do magic (yet), so people still have to take over communication when necessary.

The main advantage of the chatbots is the fact that once they are properly scripted to do their tasks, they can do the whole process of searching, ordering and product payment. Their working hours are 0-24, every day in the year. On the standard working day, bigger brands need at least two full-time community managers, although the number of community managers can be even bigger. The visible advantage of the chatbots vs. community managers applies more to weekends, holidays and time that is not considered as a ‘’standard business hours’’.

The other important thing is that the community managers are often unable to resolve all the customer queries and orders in the short term or even on the same day. This prolongs the process of product ordering and delivery. On the other side, chatbots can do it automatically, while simultaneously working with a large number of customers. Its programmed ‘’nature’’ to chat, can reduce the workload for employees when maintaining communication with customers.

How much time is required for chatbot maintenance and control?

Chatbot maintenance and oversight depend on their type. Scripted ones correspond to predetermined answers only, and they are easy and simple to maintain. They don’t need a large amount of control and oversight.

AI Chatbots are a whole different game. They demand far more research, management, and control. The best-known example of (AI) chatbot is Mitsuku, also known as Pandorabots on Skype and Kik Messenger. Mitsuku’s “most human-like chatbot” is an 18-year-old chatbot that is under development for more than 12 years. She is conversing with approximately 250,000 people on a daily basis and her code is so complex that she even defeated Apple’s (AI) Siri in a ‘’chatbot smackdown’’.

The level of Mitsuku’s popularity is so high that she even serves as a companion rather than a mere virtual assistant. It may be difficult to grasp the sophistication and complexity of such a chatbot but Mitsuku’s responses provide the best insight into that matter:

What keeps me going is when I get emails or comments in the chat-logs from people telling me how Mitsuku has helped them with a situation whether it was dating advice, being bullied at school, coping with illness or even advice about job interviews. I also get many elderly people who talk to her for companionship. Mitsuku

Such bots can independently perform their tasks and communicate with customers, but still, they can run into a problem while conversing. For every query or problem which can’t be resolved solely by the chatbot, there’s an option to use specialized tools like email, help desk software or push notifications. If that’s the case, community managers kick in and take over the communication.

man with phone
Can chatbots cope with rude or negative messages?

With a large fan base, you will eventually stumble on a grumpy customer determined to provoke you just for the sake of it. That kind of situation can potentially escalate beyond pure dissatisfaction with the product or service. React quickly.
Chatbots are not yet sophisticated enough to solve a potentially dangerous situation that can distort the public image of your brand. Community managers and Administrators must take over the communication and finesse it out properly.

How can robot represent me or my brand? – Chatbot personality

When creating and shaping chatbots, their personality is essential to the overall customer experience. Chatbots can be customized to the client’s needs, so they know how to represent the business and mimic the communication with customers. Contrary to popular belief, chatbots can respond very much like real community managers and don’t need to give ”robotic” answers.

If your customers are millennials, for instance, chatbots must be tuned to mimic suitable communication ‘’style’’ when conversing with them. If the situation with customers is reversed, the same rules apply and chatbots are designed to talk with clients in a way that is appropriate to their profile.

In the process of chatbot development, it’s vital to choose the proper words, phrases and language syntax. The component of language syntax is one of the most important parts in creating a chatbot personality. It determines the order, deployment, and interoperability of words, terms or phrases which the chatbot will use.

Can chatbots meet custom-type requirements for various businesses?

If you still have ambivalent thoughts about artificial intelligence and the opportunities that come with its implementation, here’s something to think about. In 2016. artificial intelligence wrote a novel and nearly won the prestige ‘’Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award’’ in Japan. The catch in this extraordinary story is that the novel named ‘’The Day A Computer Writes A Novel’’ was first written by humans and then deconstructed into lines and paragraphs. The (AI) simply reconstructed the novel along with a similar storyline.

Yes, chatbots can be accustomed to most services and businesses. Their personality and the way they act and communicate can be streamlined as needed. That also means that chatbots can be ‘’virtual ambassadors’’ of your brand or business. If implemented correctly, chatbots can be a more effective and cheaper method than having an army of employees working from nine to five.

We can’t wait for further development of AI technology to gauge its strength and implement it in our e-commerce workflow. If you have any more questions not covered in this post, feel free to drop us a tweet at @neuralab

Robots, bring it on! 🙂

Petra Filip
Petra Filip Copywriter and Content Maker

Skilfull content creator always on the hunt for tech trends

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