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Posted by Matthias Dantone Thursday, February, 2nd. 2017

The Role of Chatbots in the Future of eCommerce

Chatbots, chatbots everywhere – and so many possibilities! The future is now, people.

Engaging customers is the ultimate goal of just about any brand. But what does engagement really look like in 2017?

Modern customers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages via social media. Meanwhile, competition is fiercer than ever as brands are fighting tooth and nail for their followers’ attention. Similarly, offers and deals are pouring into our prospects’ inboxes like never before. In an era of over-saturation, perhaps engagement means that customers interact directly with brands instead of responding to marketing efforts. That’s where chatbots pick up the slack.

The Emergence of Chatbots in eCommerce

Chatbots represent messaging services which allow users to direct queries toward a “bot” that responds accordingly. Many chatbots are a simplified example of artificial intelligence, able to respond to customers based on a specific set of rules and functions (think: commands such as “yes” or “no”). Modern chatbots can be accessed through traditional text messages, as well as built-in messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or Kik.

Keeping up on trends is quite exhausting. But here’s the thing: chatbots aren’t that new. Automated messaging via SMS has been around for years. So why the sudden interest in chatbots for eCommerce? Consider the following:

Chatbots bring eCommerce sites back to the basics by putting the customer first. By focusing on accessibility, chatbots have the power to emulate the service of a store attendant, representing a stark contrast to the traditional, impersonal experience of milling around a website. Such customer experience, although subtle, may ultimately set brands apart. But what does this sort of customer experience look like in action?

How Fashion Brands Use Chatbots to Shine

When it comes to eCommerce, the fashion industry is a shining example of employing chatbots to service customers. In fact, fashion brands arguably have the most to gain from the rise of chatbots and some huge names have gotten on board in recent months.

Nordstrom launched its chatbot in time for the past holiday season. It featured a series of personalized questions and made gift suggestions. Tommy Hilfiger’s chatbot takes a more traditional “yes’ or “no” approach whilst also incorporating imagery. By providing users with command options accompanied by simple questions, the bot emphasizes accessibility for shoppers:

Image Source

Thanks to the bots’ integration with Facebook Messenger, interaction is only a click away from those already subscribed to the brand’s social feed. With high-end brands on board, the concept of a digital concierge service is an enticing factor for fashion companies looking to stand out from the crowd.

Why Chatbots Are Here to Stay

As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, chatbots may very well become a staple in the future of customer satisfaction.
The beauty of chatbots is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to integration and execution. For example, any of the following are fair game for brands in any industry:

  • Brand loyalty: by engaging with customers and creating a personalized experience, chatbots have the ability to form a more meaningful bond between customers and brands
  • Building buzz: from updates and deals to product launches, chatbots are able to keep customers in the loop without spamming them
  • Customer service: at the end of the day, the ultimate function of chatbots is to provide another layer of customer service that makes the customers’ life easier

How Fashwell is Overcoming the Limitations of Chatbots

Although there’s a definite buzz, chatbots do have their limitations. Perhaps most notable is the fact that today’s bots are limited to text-based interactions. This poses a big problem for customers in terms of search and discovery. Since fashion is inherently visual, searching for a style or fit via text is complicated. The solution? Smarter AI and the ability for customers to search by image. In an age where everyone seems to be snapping photos, it only makes sense for future bots to be able to “speak” through images. Sending a picture of your current wardrobe to get personalized recommendations or a screenshot of a pair of sneakers you want to shop from Instagram is no problem for a bot that “speaks” in images.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Thanks to Fashwell and our advanced API, it’s a reality

Visual search represents the future of chatbots and eCommerce alike. Bots that learn from their users can deliver a one-of-a-kind experience to their shoppers. Through Fashwell’s visual search technology, brands and customers alike benefit from a more personalized shopping experience. Customers have access to a personal shopper and brands get search data from their customers that they otherwise would not have.

Technology is evolving to suit customers’ ever-growing needs. Whether you already have a chatbot or are interested in using visual search technology for your brand, Fashwell can help. Contact us to learn more and see a demo of our technology partnerships@fashwell.com.

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