Albert Gudlaugsson

Ecommerce chatbots: What are they and what can they do for your store.

Have you heard about this new wave called Chatbots? Maybe you have or maybe you have not. In this article I’m going to tell you all you need to know about chatbots and especially e-commerce chatbots and how they might benefit your business. I will be focusing on chatbots on the messenger platform, since that is the biggest messaging platform today.

So, what is a chatbot? A chatbot is a software that is designed to mimic conversations with humans. The chatbot uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) to attempt to understand what you are saying to it and then it replies accordingly. Sounds complicated?

Basically, a chatbot is a intelligent robot that follows a set of rules and in some cases artificial intelligence and can chat with you and do things for you. A chatbot can help you order food, book appointments, browse stuff online and more. Instead of browsing the website, you can just tell the chatbot what you are looking for and he will find it. It’s very similar to walking into a physical store and talking to an employee there. Sound pretty amazing right?

Just to name a few companies that are using chatbots today are H&M, Burberry, Sephora, Uber and many more. That’s huge. But why have so many people not heard about it? That´s because it’s so new. It all just started around a year ago.

“~90% of our time on mobile is spent on email and messaging platforms. I would love to back teams that build stuff for places where the consumers hang out!”

-Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director at General Catalyst

Facebook made it possible to build chatbots on Messenger in April 2016. It didn’t get the start Facebook was hoping for. At first the chatbots were really incomplete. They had a hard time answering your questions, showing you products and got stuck in conversations all the time. This has all changed. Almost. The chatbots today can still be a bit tricky to talk to. But today they follow a set of rules and have a menu to help you through the process. He’s more trying to guide the users a certain path rather than having a full blown conversation with him. The F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Jose on April 2017 was all about chatbots. The messenger team is really putting their focus on bots. That’s their next big thing. Well, kinda has become a big thing, but will get even bigger.

Since chatbots are such a new thing, its only getting bigger and bigger. Do you remember when people where skeptical about apps? No one thought they where going to be the next big thing. Then the apps got better and better and the rest is history. That’s kind of where chatbots are right now. It’s so new that people don’t know what it is and don’t trust it. That will change, fast. The rapid growth of number of chatbots is growing so fast its amazing. Hundreds if not thousands are launching new chatbots every day.

Why am I only focusing on Messenger Chatbots? Why am I not talking about other messaging platforms like WhatsApp, QQ Mobile, Kik or Slack? Well, thats because Messenger has billion users. Did you know that Messenger has surpassed Facebook in total users? Thats amazing. If I would tell you that you could get your products on a platform that has billion users, is rapidly growing everyday, works on every device and is super easy to use? What if I would also tell you that you would get an employee on that platform that will work for you 24/7 and do that for free. This is how amazing messenger chatbots can sound. Let me tell you what it can do for your store.

Lets say you’d create a Messenger chatbot for your store. You can look at that chatbot as your new employee. This employee will help you sell products through Messenger, connecting to your customers and helping them on their way to find the product they need. What you can also do is personalize your new bot employee. You can make him be formal, goofy or really really sarcastic. Your new bot employee also knows when he doesn’t understand the user and lets the customer talk to a real person.

One of the most important features of your new employee is that he can broadcast messages to its users. Lets say you have a new product and you want to let your customers know about it, you can tell your bot to send to all of its users that this particular product has arrived.

Being where your customers are is crucial in todays competitive ecommerce world. Things are constantly changing. We’ll see whether or not Ecommerce Chatbots are the next big thing, but they are definitely something you should be aware of.

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