Retail

5 Benefits of AI-Powered Virtual Assistants Across the Retail Industry

Conversational AI provides smarter ways to scale customer experiences, grow loyal customer bases, and offer personalized and convenient support.

Conversational AI in retail has dramatically changed the industry. It is helping to provide smarter ways to scale customer experiences, grow loyal customer bases, offer personalized and convenient support, and can do so over a multitude of channels. Conversational AI-powered assistants are helping to craft a new frontier. 

What Are Virtual Assistants?

A virtual assistant uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML) to gather customer information and data from interactions in order to better understand and process them. When past data is available, digital agents can learn to recognize customer behaviors and adapt based on forthcoming data. 

Virtual assistants can help assist customers with complex inquiries, make recommendations and predictions, and carry out conversations by constantly adding and assessing new information, historical data, customer preferences, and more.

The use of virtual assistants has grown exponentially over the past several years. They have made quite the impact across various industries and have proven the benefits time and time again. One major contributor to the widespread adoption of virtual assistants is the retail industry. While nearly all retail industry sectors have adopted virtual assistants, the home improvement sector is the most recent to jump on the bandwagon and reap the benefits of this technology.

According to a 2021 study by Markets and Research, the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Home Improvement sector of the retail industry will significantly change this year. It was also predicted that this industry will experience a major spike in revenue over the next five years, partly due to the self-service, independent components that are becoming increasingly available.

According to this study, 2020 was the base year for these changes, and it is predicted that with time, the popularity and use of artificial intelligence (AI) powered bots within the retail industry and the DIY and Home Improvement sectors will continue to increase.

Below, we will take a deep dive into the significant benefits of adopting AI-powered virtual assistants within the retail industry, how they can improve business processes, enhance business performance, boost customer satisfaction, and much more.

Improve Customer Onboarding and Engagement

Customer onboarding is an essential part of retail processes because it represents an opportunity to draw in revenue to enroll new customers and get them going as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, for some industries, customer onboarding can be a time-consuming and complicated process, primarily due to the multiple steps of the customer journey that may require information, documentation, validation, and approval.

For example, say you want to improve your home and would like to take open a new credit card with your local hardware store. If you have ever opened a credit card account before, you would know that there are quite a few hurdles to jump through, documents that must be gathered, and the credit card companies must decide to approve and then determine a maximum credit limit. 

If the company used an onboarding AI bot, it would effectively communicate with customers across channels, keep them engaged and informed throughout the process, and make it go by much faster and more efficiently than ever. This bot would request all necessary documentation, offer the customer an upload portal, validate the data, and send it for approval. This would take away a lot of the "friction" that can come from utilizing multiple human workers and email or call customers back and forth. 

Additionally, by incorporating an onboarding bot throughout business processes, data can be stored in a customer's file for safekeeping and can be accessed in the future if any issues arise. Also, note that if a customer is interacting with a bot but would prefer to work with a human agent, that can be done easily as well. But because more people like self-service, your human agents will be less-stressed and eager to help the customers who prefer human assistance.

Assist With In-Store Shopping

Say a customer has been doing plenty of online research before undertaking a home improvement project. However, before making a final purchasing decision, they decide to go into the store to look at products in person. 

Due to many customers' desire for independence and self-service may not want assistance when browsing around the store. They have received help online via the virtual assistant, obtained item information, reviews, and characteristics, and head to the aisle given to them by the helpful bot.

The bot gave the customer item numbers, aisle numbers, and in-store availability. After looking at the items he had been browsing for online, the customer can choose to buy the items there in-store, return online and continue interacting with the virtual assistant to complete the purchase, apply for a credit card, and ask if there are any promotions and more. 

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Increase Revenue and Growth

With AI-powered virtual assistants, your business can notify customers about new products, sales, special discounts, and other information that may persuade them to buy more.

For instance, say a customer is interacting with the bot and looking to gain more information about your company before purchasing. The intelligent bot has been assessing how the customer is engaging and answering questions and using the customer's data to highlight certain promotions, features, and pricing tiers to present the best fit for that particular customer.

Many virtual assistants can also send out alerts to human agents that should follow up with customers interested in a particular product or service. This double point of contact between a bot and human agent can often seal a sale while leaving the customer satisfied with the helpful service they received. And because the customer has been interacting with a bot and then a human, they view the assistance less as a sales pitch and more like a genuine recommendation from a friend.

Increased Speed and Efficiency

When a customer interacts with an AI-powered virtual assistant, information is collected synchronously and stored for future purposes. A well-capable virtual assistant will use conversational context to populate the information that can best assist the customer. As the customer interacts with the bot, processes will become easier and easier as more information is gathered. These assistants can learn user preferences and store them to speed up future orders. This can be accomplished by filling the context store as customers complete their conversational journeys. 

Administration Tasks are a Breeze

Similar to making sales and customer service more efficient (like mentioned above), behind-the-scenes administration tasks can also be done more efficiently and quicker than ever with the aid of virtual assistants. These AI-driven bots can help with retail processes like ordering inventory, organizing sales data, pay runs & superannuation, bookkeeping, invoicing, and payments (just to mention a few).

Each of these administrative tasks is often mundane and time-consuming. The processes involved with completing them traditionally involve multiple human workers in multiple departments and can waste time. In an already hectic industry filled with many other tasks and important things to attend to, a virtual assistant can help ease these mundane tasks and make many team members' jobs much easier.

AI-powered virtual assistants can do much more than basic communication between a business and its customers. They support budding customer relationships, provide a deeper understanding of your business, give accurate and up-to-date information, promote customer feedback, and enhance customer service in a modern way, thus, improving the customer experience overall. 

DRUID virtual assistants offer

  • Improved customer engagement
  • Faster self-serve times
  • Removal of order bottlenecks
  • Managing vouchers, incentive-linked promotions, and warranties
  • Influence connected selections
  • Managing the return process and automating other back-office tasks
  • Provide DIY guidelines- tips, tricks, and trends

 

Connect with us today to learn more about how DRUID can help your business!

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