Should You Utilize Chatbots for eCommerce? Yes, and Here’s Why

Chatbots for eCommerce

We covered live chat functionality and the benefits to eCommerce in a previous post. But there exists another, newer option for eCommerce businesses to implement: Chatbots. These automated customer service portals can serve as an excellent supplement to live chat functionality, guiding multiple customers towards services and products at all hours of the day while preserving employees for higher value interactions. 

What Are Chatbots?

Chatbots refer colloquially to computer programs that automatically interact with a human user. Chatbots provide businesses with a cost effective means of interacting with customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chatbots come in two broad categories: Pre-programmed question and answer bots, where interactions are limited to button clicks, and conversational AI. Conversational AI chatbots have evolved to be able to mimic human to human conversation reasonably well, creating a dynamic, often memorable customer interaction that responds to incoming inquiries instantly, opening new avenues for sales, service, and support. Consistent majorities of consumers and executives alike indicate interactions with both kinds of chatbots are positive.

Are Chatbots Right for My eCommerce Business?

Studies and surveys have consistently found that chatbots generate positive experiences for customers, improve efficiency and capacity, and generate ROI. A survey of more than 1,000 adults indicates that 80% of those who have had an interaction with a chatbot rated it as a positive experience. An Accenture survey states that 57% of executives say that chatbots offer a large ROI with minimal effort. And MIT found that nearly 90% of 599 executives surveyed stated that chatbots improved the speed of conflict resolution.

Chatbots have also demonstrated an ability to increase sales for many types of ecommerce businesses. In addition to complaint resolution, lead gathering, appointment booking, and direct sales are all excellent use cases for either kind of chatbot. 

Navigating Customer Objections to Chatbots

That same Accenture survey lists the top three reasons executives have thus far refused to implement chatbots on their website. The top reason was “user adoption hesitancy” – the perceived reluctance of customers to engage with an automated response system. Though this can be a particular issue for older customers, a recent Simplr survey found that only about a quarter of millennial and gen z customers have a negative reaction to interacting with a chatbot as a first point of contact, and about 20% of the youngest generation prefers it. 

The other two most common reasons to not implement chatbots had to do with chatbot performance, specifically concerns about personalizing experiences, particularly for customers with a history with the firm, and the chatbot’s inability to properly understand human input. Both of these experiences can be frustrating. Fortunately, the technology continues to radically improve, which in turn improves customer experience and future willingness to engage with chatbots. We can already see these trends in the numbers. Chatbots are now able to answer about 80% of all standard questions, and 56% of customers would prefer to message rather than call customer service.  

Challenges in Using Chatbots for eCommerce

The largest challenge by far for executives worried about implementing chatbots was the lack of talent dedicated to improving the user experience with chatbots. The efficiency and manpower benefits of chatbots are obviously muted if a company is required to hire employees to maintain and improve the bot. This is why the best option for many businesses is to outsource their chatbots to a company with programmers dedicated to improving the user experience. Speaking of…

How to Implement Chatbots for eCommerce

Chatbots offer a cost-effective supplement to live chat functionality that can dramatically improve customer experience at almost no effort. Chatbots can be embedded into B2B eCommerce platforms like Zoey to help improve the overall experience.

If you haven’t yet, contact our team to learn more about Zoey and how we can help your business:

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Patrick Gallagher is a financial writer with nearly a decade of experience in communications with business owners and other high-net worth individuals. He was a writer for the New York Times and worked for several nonprofits. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Atlanta with his family and two very rambunctious dogs. 

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