Technology has made the retail customer journey more complex than ever before. It has also created a wealth of opportunities for retailers to improve the customer journey and encourage people to make more purchases. One example of this kind of technology is the chatbot.
In recent years, chatbots have increasingly been used to help retailers deal with customers, improve efficiency, and more. As they become more advanced, and with the introduction of AI, chatbots are now an indispensable part of many retailers’ operations.
In this article, we look at some of the most important ways that modern chatbots are helping retailers transform the customer journey for the better.
What are chatbots for retail?
All types of chatbots are similar in function in that they all talk to human users, usually via instant messaging interfaces. While they are fundamentally similar, chatbots do vary greatly in the sophistication of their responses. For example, traditional, more basic chatbots can only respond to a few inputs with fixed responses, meaning they are not useful in many situations requiring complex responses and understanding. More modern chatbots, however, utilize technology like AI and machine learning to offer more varied, adaptable, and useful functions, making them preferable in almost every way.
Retail chatbots are essentially the same in concept as any other chatbot but designed to be used in a retail setting. This generally means they are designed to deal with retail-related requests such as questions about product lines, returns, and so on.
Chatbots for retail is usually most useful when deployed to interact directly with customers to improve the customer journey. There are many reasons for this, some of which we’ll discuss below.
How can retail chatbots improve the customer journey?
Faster answers to queries
However good your customer service is, it doesn’t matter if customers can’t get the answers they need quickly and on-demand, and this encapsulates the problem faced by many retailers. Traditional customer support is expensive, requiring one-on-one interactions with human support agents. This means that customers are always going to be left waiting during periods of high demand, which is detrimental to the customer experience.
Retailers can avoid this by deploying AI chatbots to fill the gaps. Retail chatbots can be available 24/7, reply instantly, and provide useful responses to almost every query, meaning customers will never be left waiting again. For any situations where customers need to speak with a real person, chatbots can automatically escalate the customer to get them the help they need.
Customizable and personalized functionality
A huge part of creating a customer journey or experience that stands out from the competition is successfully building relationships with customers and your brand. AI-enabled chatbots can help you to achieve this by providing customized functionality that links up seamlessly with your unique business and offers a personalized experience.
For example, rather than offering cookie-cutter responses to queries, AI chatbots can be linked up with your inventory and use collected data to provide personalized product recommendations, give information about stock levels, and much more. These seemingly small personal touches can add up to a significantly improved customer journey and ensure a high level of satisfaction.
Integrated payment systems
Put simply, the end goal of any customer journey is for the customer to make a purchase, and preferably come back repeatedly as a loyal customer. Getting to this stage can be a challenge for any retailer, so the simpler you can make it for customers to make a purchase, the better.
Specialized AI chatbots can streamline this stage and make life easier for customers by facilitating direct payments through the chat interface. By providing this additional route to making a purchase, retailers simplify the customer journey, benefiting both parties.
Returns are an inevitable part of the retail business, and this has only become more true with the rise of ecommerce, where customers can’t see and touch products before buying. This means that making returns as easy as possible is a fundamental part of improving the retail customer journey.
Retailers can use AI-powered chatbots to improve the returns process, giving customers an instantly responsive, easy-to-use channel to initiate their returns. Within seconds, customers can have all the instructions they need to make a return, as well as confirmation of the return’s validity and ongoing updates.
Differentiate from the competition
Retail is a bustling, complex industry with millions of companies competing for the same or very similar niches. Throw in a few giants like Amazon to swallow up most of the business, and it makes for a ruthless marketplace where differentiation from the competition is crucial to success.
One way for retailers to differentiate their services is by utilizing AI chatbots. With their help, retailers can offer an overall more streamlined, joined-up customer experience. Customers can rely on support that’s available round-the-clock, chat in multiple languages, and take advantage of incredibly versatile, personalized functionality. These unique offerings can contribute to an improved customer journey and help to set any retail business apart from the competition.
How can Skil.AI enhance the customer experience for your retail business?
At Skil.AI, we create custom AI chatbots and virtual assistants that can dramatically improve the customer journey for retail businesses. We craft our AI retail chatbots to suit each and every client, using the latest in AI and machine learning technology so they can immediately simplify, improve, and speed up the customer journey.
Chat with our team today to learn more and see Skil.AI in action.