We are in the era of Retail 2.0 where these businesses are leveraging technology to enhance customer experience and with AI, retailers can get deeper insights, make accurate forecasts and target millions of consumers at an instant, significantly strengthening capabilities beyond that of traditional methods.
But that’s not it, with growing competition in the market and reducing attention span of customer businesses require significant differentiation to stand out in the crowd and create a unique customer experience. If we take a deeper look we will realize that engagement, convenience, speed, and automation are the four main pillars of this technology-led revolution. This is all possible because of conversational AI that steps in as virtual ‘brand personalities’.
Challenging time like these where we are in a pandemic, Conversational AI has proved to be a blessing . Juniper Research recently released an estimate that every year until 2023 retail sales from chatbot-based interactions will double. Currently, there are about 2.6 billion retail chatbot interactions annually. By 2023, this is expected to rise to a huge 22 billion and 85% of user interactions online will be performed without a live agent by end of 2020 while estimates show that both businesses and customers will save up to 2.5 billion hours of web browsing thanks to chatbot assistance.
In this blog, we will explore 5 ways where conversational AI is revolutionizing consumer engagement in the retail space.
1. 24*7 Accessibility
Human beings have a limitation of working for a fixed number of hours in a day but digital humans or chatbots are active and accessible 24*7. They have the ability to answer customer queries across time zone and language and with vernacular language support they can reach the last mile customer.
An AI-powered chatbot is a round-the-clock self-service tool, allowing customers to reach out to retailers to resolve their product/services queries and issues anytime and anyplace, without having to wait for an agent to respond, or be restricted by the ‘office hours’ of a contact center.
A report by Aspect Software has revealed that 73% of customers prefer self-service options – a fact which does provide a strong impetus to retailers to implement Conversational AI solutions.
2. Improved pre and post-sales experience
Conversation AI acts as a brand assistant by spreading awareness about the product, answering customer queries, and recommending products that match the customer requirements.
These digital assistants offer a personalized experience and are also powered with live chat support to enable seamless human and bot experience to customers.
AI chatbot learns continuously by providing its service. The more it operates, the more it can learn about the best ways to deal with your customers. Once well-trained, it can suggest services or products that you offer. Particularly, those that fit the customer’s interests and behavior patterns.
3. Higher Engagement powered with interactive content
Everyone today has a smartphone in their hand with a stable internet connection and the retail sector can use this opportunity to the fullest. Integrating with an application such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp can do wonders and make these digital assistants easily accessible to all.
Making content interactive by sending emoji, gifs have made these bots can become very popular among all generations. Advanced chat options that use emoji for detailed conversation e.g. customer can just send cake emoji to get the recipe of cake baking etc. can make chatting a lot more fun and interactive.
Chatbot has taken the next leap by developing the ability to converse in vernacular language signs and symbols which has proved to be a game-changer for vernacularly diverse Indian populations. According to a 2017 KPMG-Google report, the number of Indian languages internet users will be 536 million by 2021, far out-stripping the estimated 199 million English language internet users in India. To cater to this growing and most important next-generation target audience, retailers need to have vernacularly enabled, mass personalization engagement solutions in place, which is most aptly offered by chatbots.
4. Omnichannel Experience
Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of store closure, according to research there was around 200% increase in shop closure announcement between years 2017-2018. Around 20-30% of Indian shopping has moved to online and retail stores are finding it very difficult to cope up. But the silver lining is that in India most of the shopper still prefer to touch and feel the product and need personal assistance while buying
It’s high time now that the retail sector gears up to compete with the online platforms as the current pandemic has taught us that being technologically advanced is the only thing that can help companies survive. Today the line between the online and the offline channel is blurring and brick and motor retail have to establish their presence digitally in order to survive.
Here conversation AI can play an important role in bridging the gap between them – guaranteeing a uniform online and offline experience for a brand’s customers.
By interacting with digital assistance customers can have a look at inventory, promotional deals, become familiar with store offerings before even physically entering the store. This assistance offers a more fulfilling experience to the customer’s right from making them aware of the product and offering to encourage repeat purchase. Thus driving customer loyalty and reducing churn
5. Personalized and Targeted Messaging
Data in the retail industry is available in abundance, every second we get data related to product inquiry, order tracking, customer queries, etc. This data can provide valuable insights about customer behavior and help companies target customers in a more personalized manner.
Digital assistants serve as a powerful and highly effective ‘data detective’ for retail – compiling and analyzing all this consumer data to derive actionable insights.
Retailers can hyper-target customers with personalized content thus increasing engagement by recommending relevant products. Conversation AI can play a crucial role in helping businesses design targeted strategies.
Summing up. In order to survive and excel in what they do, the retailer has to come up with a way to offer customers the best of both the worlds i.e. both touch and feel and convenience. Conversational AI is a solution to all their problems, retailers can offer 24×7 customer support, mine consumer data for actionable insights, and engage customers with interactive content, thus offering a personalized experience to the customer
Conversational AI is truly becoming a ‘must-have’ for retail enterprises and no wonder Gartner in its recent report says that 25% of global brands are going to integrate virtual customer assistant technology by 2020, up from 2% in 2017.