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Among many other things, the pandemic over the past two years has changed our consumption patterns, 89% of shoppers Express concerns about in-store shopping and proximity to others.
Suddenly, retailers are being reduced to digital channels of customer interaction, and while online retailers have barely felt the change, it’s a new reality for offline retailers to adapt to.This has led to a technological breakthrough that typically takes years to achieve, with the e-commerce sector growing more than 30% in 2020.
More than two years on, retail digitization is gaining momentum, and AI conversational agents are an important part of that. Chatbots interact with customers online, provide information, answer questions, and more. Juniper Networks Research Chatbots are expected to save global retailers $439 million annually by 2023, up from $7 million in 2019. In this article, I will discuss the efficiencies that conversational AI can create for retailers and the common barriers that stand in the way of chatbot projects.
Related: 4 Ways to Use AI to Enhance Customer Experience
Conversational AI meets retail
according to Accenture, chatbots are mostly expected to reduce the time to process requests and increase employee productivity. Here are a few examples of how conversational AI can help retailers address digital challenges:
AI-powered chatbots enable businesses to provide great customer service without increasing headcount. The technology enables businesses to make calls when a customer receives an order and still remember the entire communication history with the company. The results from the smartphone will show whether customers are willing to recommend the company to others, and help companies adjust strategies, loyalty programs and reward systems.
Improve service quality
chatbot Voice assistants can answer consumer questions day and night, 365 days a year, holidays and weekends. Unlike human agents, AI assistants do not require sleep and can assist customers even after working hours. Naturally, when customers receive immediate assistance, it increases their satisfaction with the service.
higher response rate
The bot responds immediately in a consistent and specific manner without providing any unimportant information to the customer. When integrated with a CRM system, they can access order history without customers having to repeat basic information about themselves.
Chatbots and voice assistants allow businesses to stay in touch with customers and inform them of new products, promotions and discounts. Customers often see information about companies – and they know exactly where to go when they need to buy.
The consumer sees that his request is understood. This attitude is the basis for building trust and loyalty to the company. Brand advocates are important in competitive industries such as retail, where the cost of attracting new customers is much higher than retaining them.
Faster customer feedback
Personalization in marketing has been around for a while: some 75% of consumers They are “passionate about buying from brands that offer a personalised digital experience”. To provide this hyper-personalization, businesses need specific data, and chatbots can easily handle data collection faster and at a lower cost than call centers.
HR Process Automation
Large retail chains employ thousands of different professionals. They need to find and hire suitable candidates and train new employees according to the company’s standards. Robots can take care of the initial selection of candidates, setting the date and time for interviews, and training schedules.
Related: What small retailers can learn from the industry’s push to AI and big data
Digitalisation in retail: things to consider
While conversational AI can help automate a lot of business processes, there are reasons why retailers are not eager to start adopting the technology.
Traditional CRM Platform
One of the factors hindering the adoption of conversational AI is that retail companies often use traditional CRMs and highly customized billing systems. There are so many different technologies, products and systems “behind the scenes” that business processes are difficult to digitize. Sometimes, to change an order, two to five systems must be used to obtain the required data.
So if a company wants a voice bot that can respond to incoming calls and notify customers of the status of their orders, they need to do all the necessary integrations and make sure the voice bot has instant access to the right systems and data.
But, just as importantly, upgrading systems or transitioning to a new CRM platform for retail is expensive and time-consuming.
In addition to expensive upgrades, there are other reasons behind the high cost of retail conversational AI projects: from the wide variety of products and data volumes to the need for customization.
That’s why big retail chains are more eager to embrace conversational AI. They have a sufficient number of query subjects and automated results, reducing the load on the contact center, reducing the time to provide information, and ultimately reducing customer service costs.
Today, however, more conversational AI tools allow even small businesses to build rudimentary chat and voice bots to kickstart contact center automation.Use ManyChat, Voiceflow or Dialogue Studiocreating a bot that helps reduce contact center loads during seasonal sales requires little coding skills.
In addition, there are ready-made AI conversational solutions to meet the specific needs of retailers.Therefore, a smart salespersonFor example, helping customers easily navigate mobile apps, use voice commands to place orders and check shipping information, and ask for user feedback after a purchase.
Related: How artificial intelligence can make the retail shopping experience simpler for e-commerce consumers
Those venturing into AI robotics projects need to remember that the job doesn’t end there. That means continuous training, adding seasonal items to the catalog, improving the bot scene, and promoting new specials. Here, retailers have a choice: hand over management to suppliers or invest in strong in-house teams.
Conversational AI technology can benefit the retail industry in a number of ways, but what works for one company may not work for another. For example, voice bots that act as consultants and salespeople for outbound communication are ideal for products that people often buy: contact lenses, pet food, etc. But the technology is unlikely to work for retailers selling refrigerators — here, a voice bot for NPS surveys would work better.
Digital transformation is not something businesses can get away with, and the growing market for conversational AI technologies and successful implementations of cases proves that retail chatbots and virtual assistants will soon become an integral part of our lives. Fortunately, as technology evolves, the adoption of conversational AI is no longer the prerogative of large retail chains, and small and medium-sized businesses can start with basic conversational solutions, but the changes will not be too small.