Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that ecommerce is currently enjoying a period of unprecedented growth. With the pandemic forcing many traditional retailers to shutter their stores, not to mention the growing number of consumers that are digital natives, ecommerce platforms are seeing an explosion in traffic and, more importantly, sales.
And this isn’t a passing trend. Despite traditional brick-and-mortar stores re-opening, online sales during Black Friday 2021 dipped only slightly from 2020 and still outpaced previous, pre-pandemic Black Fridays by miles. But for online retailers to grow, embracing technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning is vital.
“In 2020, retail ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars (£3.32 trillion) and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 5.4 trillion US dollars (£4.7 trillion) in 2022. Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide.” – Stephanie Chevalier, Statista
Appealing to the Digital Consumer
Sadly, it’s not as simple as “build it, and they will come.” In an increasingly dynamic landscape, brands need to work extra hard to engage digitally native customers and must continuously improve their ecommerce offerings to remain competitive.
With thousands of online shops and evolving customer needs, prices and quality are no longer the only factors influencing customer loyalty. Customers want a higher degree of personalization while shopping—a level of personalization that traditional webshops can’t provide.
As a result of recent technological advances, brands can mitigate, overcome, and even exceed demand pressures. Is AI the way of the future? Certainly.
Upgrading the User Experience With AI
Introducing Conversational AI, the latest advancement in ecommerce technology, which can provide online retailers with better customer service, enhance the relationship between brands and consumers, and create a better overall customer experience. But you may be wondering: “How?” Let’s get into it.
Great user experiences, of course, depend on smooth customer journeys. Although this isn’t a game-changing nugget of insight, there is no denying that many brands and customers still encounter friction in their journeys due to outdated communication processes that prevent engagement in real-time.
Transforming traditional ecommerce into conversational commerce is the best way for brands to overcome this challenge. Conversational commerce represents a step up from the now-common widget in the bottom right of most websites to one that seamlessly integrates the chatbot with the website. This allows for a more dynamic interaction between customers and a website, ensuring relevant, real-time communication, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A traditional ecommerce website acts like a catalog, with potential customers flicking through it, hoping to find the right product, mostly by chance. A conversational commerce website, on the other hand, is more akin to a digital shopping assistant, offering an interactive experience, guiding the visitor towards their desired purchases.
A conversational commerce website utilizes a bot that has access to all the relevant product data in the store at any given time, as well as a chatbot that has visibility into a user’s web browsing and shopping history.
The bots combine this with zero-party data from the consumer, like transcriptions of their interactions with customer service agents or their previous choices on the website. They then use this information to build a comprehensive and context-appropriate profile of the consumer on the fly, delivering personalized recommendations and near-instant help.
Creating a Unique Shopping Experience for Every Step of the Customer Journey
Standard ecommerce websites do not personalize product recommendations and rely entirely on automated algorithms. Offers are made based on what a buyer has purchased in the past, and recommendation engines can’t handle suggesting gifts to buy for others. (Like, “I just bought a printer, why would I need to buy another?”).
Conversational commerce takes it a step further, leveraging every data point and real-time feedback from users to create tailored recommendations. Cross-selling and up-selling recommendations can be made based on a customer’s budget, style preferences, or issues that caused them to contact customer support.
By using AI and machine learning, intelligent technology systems can understand, for example, that a customer who had purchased elegant clothes in the past might want to purchase an elegant present for their partner or spouse as well. A bot that is integrated with the website can recognize that each shopper has a different profile, and they may be shopping for themselves or for others, depending on what they look at on the site.
Delivering Hyper-Customized Touchpoints to Our Users With a Conversational Commerce Chatbot From Certainly
Fashion retailer SikSilk implemented artificial intelligence to enhance their customer’s shopping experience—and improve their sales. The goal was to allow AI to assist in the pre-sales customer journey by creating a digital twin of their best salesperson. They had these objectives for the AI:
- Provide size guidance.
- Determine sizing and best fit.
- Give recommendations for shoppers selecting a gift.
- Offer upselling recommendations at checkout.
Siksilk‘s AI assistant does all that and more, assisting shoppers as they peruse the website.
In order to provide the best results, conversational commerce Chatbots and web pages should be able to talk to each other. Conversations are triggered by particular factors such as scrolling over certain products or adding them to the basket, as well as by hesitating at checkout.
With conversational commerce chatbots and website pages communicating, the silos that once existed between them are long gone. Siksilk has seen extraordinary results since implementing their chatbot:
- a 40% increase in average order value
- as well as an increase in conversion rate of 14%
- resulting in 31% more checkouts.
Delivering Personalized User Experiences
With conversational commerce, all available data and real-time user input can be used to provide tailored recommendations, filling any gaps left by conventional ecommerce webshops. As an example, the process of cross-selling and up-selling can be facilitated by analyzing a customer’s previous spending and style preferences, along with specific issues that made them reach out to customer support in the past.
AI assistants can detect, for instance, that a person who normally buys black clothes from the men’s section might be considering purchasing a red dress for their partner today. The chatbot could also prompt the consumer to check their wishlist or remind them of previously viewed items, on top of helping them find a specific item.
Fashion retailer Tiger of Sweden, which analyzes conversational zero-party data from chatbot conversations, has been able to determine shoppers’ desire for more product assistance and on-site guidance. Their CSAT score went from 74% to 96% after implementing an AI Chatbot, as in the SikSilk case above.
“Tiger of Sweden is a premium brand, and a premium brand should provide a premium user experience at every point of contact. Users should have a high-quality experience from the moment they view the website to the moment they open their new product.” – Nadin Kempel Sigh, Customer Care Manager, Tiger of Sweden
A chatbot strives to deliver a superior on-site experience from the moment a user enters your site. The goal is to:
- Reduce cart abandonment by providing online shoppers with immediate assistance.
- Assist with product selection to help reduce costly returns (up to 40 percent in ecommerce).
- Deliver personalized recommendations and tailored offers to reward return customers and build long-term loyalty.
Chatbots from Tiger of Sweden can add items to the shopping basket, help a user check out, recommend styles, and cross-sell products that complement a new purchase.
The results are impressive:
- 70% of user engagement occurs via chatbots.
- Those who interact with the AI bot convert at a rate of 18%.
- The average order value increases by 18%.
- Since implementing it, the bounce rate is down by 50%.
- ROI was achieved within the first four weeks.
The Next Step for Ecommerce Businesses
As ecommerce continues its rapid growth alongside the growing trend of consumers wanting increased personalization, brands can’t ignore the potential of conversational commerce to create more meaningful connections with customers and build loyalty.
“We love our bot because he is hardworking, always helpful, and available 24-hours a day which makes him an indispensable part of our small customer service team.” – Nina Toiviainen, Senior Manager Service Delivery, Booking.com
Can you improve your customer experience and increase sales by integrating an AI chatbot to your webshop?
Are you interested in discovering how conversational commerce can drive growth for your business?
Download the latest free ebook from Certainly.io, and if you’re curious, learn more about Dixa’s integration with Certainly.