Written by Rebecca Reynoso

January 28, 2020

In the past decade, e-commerce has become a fierce contender to brick-and-mortar stores. This means that in order to stay ahead of the competition, e-commerce marketplaces need to go above and beyond to stand out from each other. 

Some e-commerce stores use tactics that are considered standard in the world of retail, such as coupons or BOGO sales. But e-commerce marketplaces and brick-and-mortar stores are not one and the same. Rather, e-commerce stores can suffer from seeming “impersonal.” To bring the customer closer to the product, as well as giving a more personalized experience, the smartest e-commerce stores have begun implementing chatbots as part of their retail marketing strategies. 

Note: Some of ManyChat’s interface and information has changed. We’re working hard at updating this content. Please stay tuned!

Why you should use a chatbot for your e-commerce store 

Chatbots are chat robots that allow people to communicate with a human user through a chat box directly on a webpage or through a social media website with Facebook chatbots. Chatbots are often used for ease of communication and to answer questions, but they can also be used to benefit other aspects of your e-commerce strategy. They help expedite e-commerce processes that once had to be done by hand, giving renewed importance to the necessity of automation. 

Implement chatbots in your e-commerce strategy using these tips, and learn how to use them in order to benefit you, your customers, and your bottom line. 

Be the customer service first point of contact 

One of the main use cases for chatbots in e-commerce is as an automated customer service representative (CSR). 

In years past, the main way to contact an online retailer was by calling an 800 number or sending an email that would receive a response within two business days. For more immediate help, there was no way to reach a customer service representative with urgent matters. Even though e-commerce marketplaces are “open” 24 hours a day, the CSRs who respond to emails and user questions don’t work 24/7. 

So in order to keep up with customer needs, many e-commerce retailers have turned to chatbots as the first point of contact for their customers. Instead of letting customer questions go unanswered for more than 24 hours without any contact from your company, you can implement a customer service chatbot to field questions, take note of customer contact information, and field them to a human customer representative. 

Chatbots in e-commerce are great for answering base-level questions customers have. If a customer is curious about your return policy, shipping fees, or the status of their order, chatbots can provide canned responses that answer simple, FAQ-type queries. 

chatbot customer service

Turn prospective customers into buyers 

Regardless of how many people visit your site and browse your goods or services, not all of those site visitors will translate into buyers. They can be in different stages of awareness, which can impact the conversion rate. A goal of using chatbots on your e-commerce site is to translate the time that site visitors spend browsing your webpage into actual, tangible money. 

Some things that dissuade customers from completing a purchase might include poor graphics, site lag time, confusing copy to describe your product or service, or unanswered questions that the prospective customer needs help with. That’s where chatbots come in.

Not only can chatbots regurgitate canned responses to simple questions about the status of an order, but these live chat software tools can also provide recommendations on products or services to your customers. Because chatbots are programmed with machine learning (ML) algorithms, chatbots have the ability to learn from experience based on large sets of user data, as well as patterns in user habits or purchasing trends. 

To avoid the risk of cart abandonment and the loss of a potential buyer, you’ll want to make sure your chatbot is knowledgeable about your products (programmed well) and has the ability to recommend products based on buying trends. That way, your chatbot can recommend similar, more valuable products or services to the prospective customer to help them come to a buying decision. With more options at the forefront, a site visitor is less likely to leave without making a purchase. 

prospective customers

Give your customers a personalized experience  

One element of the customer experience that gets lost in the world of e-commerce is the personalized experience that comes with face-to-face interactions. We’re moving to a world dominated by omnichannel marketing. In order to regain some trust and confidence from your customers, chatbots can help facilitate a relationship akin to that of a customer-employee connection at a brick-and-mortar store. 

As soon as your website’s home page finishes loading, a chatbot pop-up box should appear on the side of the webpage. Many e-commerce marketplaces like giving their chatbots a “human” name like Karen, Mike, or James so that the customer can refer to them as such during their correspondence. Giving your chatbot a little bit of personality makes customers feel like they are communicating with a person rather than a robot. However, you don’t want to trick your customers either. 

To ensure complete transparency, you can give your chatbot an opening greeting message along the lines of: “Hi! My name is Susan, and I’m your Chat-X Bot Associate! Ask me any question and I will do my best to answer it!” A clear message like this guarantees that your customers will feel that you are being transparent and trying to create a real connection by humanizing your chatbots – all while providing a high-level customer experience with a personal touch. 

Customers thrive when they feel that a company is genuinely taking the time to get to know them. So after having your chatbot greet your site user with a pleasantry, have it ask some basic questions about the customer: their name, the email address by which they can be contacted later, and if they need any help right away. These three simple questions allow your customer to have independence, but also have a means of assistance whenever they choose to interact with your chatbot at a later time. 

You can even use ML algorithms to ensure that your chatbot remembers your customer’s name when they click through multiple pages on your website. This way, if they try to abandon their almost-purchase, your chatbot can intervene and say, “Hey Brenda! I saw you had a Hot Tools hair curler in your cart! Did you need any help checking out today?” This last-ditch effort is a final attempt to seal the deal. You can’t guarantee that it’ll always work, but the opportunity rises when you have a chatbot to save a sale! 

personalized experience

Collect customer data through machine learning algorithms 

Because chatbots are programmed with machine learning, and ML algorithms work based on fielding and analyzing user data, you can use your customers’ data to train your chatbot to find trends for future potential buyers! 

Either at the beginning or end of your customer’s time on your e-commerce website, your chatbot might pop up and ask them to fill out a user profile. A user profile can gather information such as gender, ethnicity, age range, and industry in which a customer works. Once a customer fills out a user profile, your chatbot can store their data and compile it into a database filled with hundreds of other users’ data. 

From this, you can anticipate user trends (e.g. 73% of women under 30 are more likely to wear neon colors in the summer) based on the data your chatbot gathers. With information like this, you can target future customers who visit your website. For this example, during the months of June through August, you would target women who are under 30 years old with ads and promotional content that directs them to products that ML algorithms have identified as “trends” based on previous customer interactions with your chatbot. 

machine learning

Get feedback about your customers’ experience on your site 

Feedback is a surefire way to guarantee a pipeline toward improvement. All of the best e-commerce platforms make sure to administer a customer satisfaction survey after a purchase has been made – or if one hasn’t been made, but comes close. 

Instead of sending a customer experience email with an external link to a survey tool or feedback form, use your chatbot to receive real-time feedback from your customers. When your chatbot recognizes that a purchase has been made, before your customer navigates away from your webpage, the chatbot can engage in a friendly conversation that draws the customer back by responding to a few short queries about their on-site experience. 

Simple questions such as, “Did you find what you were looking for?” or “How can we make your experience better?” allow your customer to write their thoughts out in short form so that the chatbot can save their replies and a human representative can go over them and reach out at a later date to the customer. 

If the experience was good, your customer service team might fill out an email newsletter template thanking the customer and providing a 10% discount on future purchases. If the experience was bad, a human CSR following up with your customer could make all the difference in whether they decide to purchase from your site in the future.

Additionally, you can find out if their experience was poor due to their interaction with your chatbot or for some other reason, giving you a heads-up on how to proactively fix these problems so that they don’t happen again. 

These strategies improve customer retention and build new customers at the same time. Studies show that after positive experiences with companies, 77 percent of customers would recommend them to their friends.

customer feedback

Are you ready to add chatbots to your e-commerce strategy? 

With these benefits and more, chatbots can solve many problems that customers and site owners face. By streamlining customer service, providing recommendations, turning visitors into buyers, targeting the right audience, and receiving feedback, you’ll be ahead of your competition in the wide world of e-commerce.