Conversing with Brands…
5 minutes read
Conversational AI answers to the growing needs of businesses in the retail industry and contributes to the growing e-commerce and SME’s markets
The retail industry has been one of the most thriving worldwide. According to Statista.com, The global retail market had sales of approximately 24 trillion USD in 2018, with the US market topping the list of the markets with the biggest sales revenues from retail, mounting to more that 5 trillion USD in the same year.
Despite this very strong position of the industry among others, it has been among the most affected ones during the pandemic that has brought unusual lockdowns across the globe, eventually slowing down the shopping industry in the offline channels and putting it on hold altogether during the wave peaks and adding unprecedented pressure on the online channels.
Right before the pandemic hit the capitals of the world, the retailers were involved in heated discussion regarding the introduction of retail omni-channels, where offline and online shopping and selling channels join forces. This discussion has been driven by the belief in having a cross-channel for communication and dealing with the consumers; offline and online. With the rise in e-commerce and the increase in customers and shopping transactions in the online realm, online shopping stood out as the retail industry’s next big thing.
With this huge integration between the offline and online worlds, retailers had to think of solutions that best serve their ultimate goal of enhancing the online customer experience to meet their expectations and assimilate the store experience.
Conversational AI has come to offer the most convenient solutions for the industry as virtual assistants have grown more strong and understanding of the consumers’ needs. Conversational AI platforms manage to offer what is more than just a chatting bot. Powered by Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU), a conversational AI learns about the intentions of the customers and enhances its responses accordingly, making it easier for the online retailers to improve their customers’ experience effectively.
Moreover, conversational AI platforms offer a myriad of advantages that work in the favor of the online shopping process starting from the chat widget on the website, to the seamless handover to human agents, which can be managed from the same platform where the bot is also managed, as some of the platforms do now.
For example and as shown in the following screenshot from Fluido.ai platform, the dashboard has a section for the live agent requests that are directed from the bot. In the 2nd screenshot, we can see that the live agent will handle the customer from the same platform, view the active conversations and receive more requests in the pending messages section.
Further to that, chat history is easily accessible from the same dashboard, where there is also a monitoring tool besides an optimization tool for the user to collect more data about the overall performance of the bot and the entire conversational experience and enhance it consistently.
Additionally, conversational AI platforms offer the chance to have one machine learning bot to handle the chat traffic and customers requests on both the website and the social media channels such as Facebook, which is commonly and excessively used by the retail brands. Fluido.ai for example, seamlessly integrates with the different social media channels where the bot will be available to handle all the queries of the customers around the look, simultaneously while handling the traffic on the website through its chat widget tool.
On a related note, small and medium-sized businesses and even emerging projects nowadays seem to be also in need for conversational AI more than ever. In fact, conversational AI and virtual assistants are not only for enterprises and established businesses that have traffic, but they have also become essential for the growth businesses and SME’s, specifically, for many reasons which we are going to list and explain in the following points:
- SME’s might not have full access to advanced analytics tools because of their high expenses. Conversational AI platforms now offer more inclusive services for the development of an assistant at the most convenient costs. These services include monitoring tools, which provide the companies with insightful understanding of the behavior of the customers, their demographics, and furthermore, what they are looking for and how to fulfill their needs. So, a chatbot will not only cater for those needs but through the conversational AI platform, the company will be able to understand its visitors better and pivot their plans accordingly to adapt to the growing needs.
- SME’s need an adequate amount of data as they start off in order to make them form solid databases at the most timely and efficient manner. Collecting these data and processing them is already an exhausting activity that can pressure the financial plans of the companies. In the case of SMEs, it is important and highly recommended for them to seek automation services that saves not only time and efforts, but also saves the extra expense of having an entire team for data collection, processing and analysis.
- SME’s are usually looking for growth and building their brands. With the advancement in conversational AI, chatbots and virtual assistants are emerging stronger than ever in a new light where they present character, tone, personality and attitude that carries the features and colors of the brand, contributing to its image and how the consumers are perceiving it.
- More to that, conversational AI has proven to contribute massively to the sales force of the businesses as it can enhance the customer experience starting from the product showcasing to closing the deals and increasing conversions.
According to Gartner’s reports, AI will recover 6.2 billion productivity hours by 2021 and generate $2.9 trillion in the value of the business when combined with human intelligence.
With all that said, we have also to mention how applications are going through a time where they are not iterating fast enough to serve those growing needs and the changes in the market. As Chris Messina, the famous product designer and the inventor of the term “conversational commerce”, calls this state the applications are going through now as “apps fatigue”, he explained that applications are not adaptive, responsive, or even as personalized as the chatbots, according to one of his interviews back in 2017.
So, it is just about time for more businesses and brands to become more conversational to keep up with the world pressure on the offline channels amidst the current global hardship and as a natural result for the growing interest of the consumer to have a convenient and seamless online shopping experience.