6 Uses of Conversational AI for Retail

Uses of Conversational AI for Retail and e-Commerce companies bring a whole new set of tools for delivering exceptional customer service.

To offer the best customer experience, a business needs to have efficient, knowledgeable customer service and make it a top priority. While traditional customer service methods have been around for ages, digitalization makes delivering an outstanding experience more accessible. 

Digitalization enables businesses to have faster response times, faster service in general, and a personalized experience for each customer. Retailers have started implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into their workflows to deliver these experiences. Experts believe that this integration is the beginning of an upward trend in the retail industry and will become more popular quickly. Juniper Research predicts that over 70% of chatbot conversations are expected to occur using retail conversational AI systems by 2023.

Conversational AI can learn human language and simulate a real human interaction throughout various layers, keep pace with a human conversation, and adapt to fast-changing content, data, or customer demands instantly. Unlike pre-configured, rule-based systems, AI virtual assistants can directly access a company’s information sources (like websites, APIs, and databases). 

This information allows the platform to gather the correct information, use it in the proper context, and maintain a flexible conversation with a customer. This article will dive into the uses of conversational AI for the retail industry and why starting using it could benefit your business.

#1. Glean Additional Insights about Your Customers' Needs

A conversational AI-powered platform allows retailers to gain insights into the wants and needs of their customers in new ways. By using conversational AI, retailers can see what percentage of customers are shopping in specific price ranges, what items were most searched for in the past month, accurate inventory levels, and more. 

By analyzing this data, retailers can stay on top of customer demands and change their marketing strategies and merchandising plans accordingly. Current trends and social media popularity are among the things that can quickly impact overall sales, and retailers need to know why and how to adjust plans adequately.

Traditionally, retailers have used rule-based chatbot systems. Thus, insights and conversational flows were limited. Sales plans were often preplanned and had little room for adaptation. These factors limit the freedom to move with customer demands as they occur and can slow down the sales process or new customer acquisition. To stay competitive and grow with their customers in an ever-changing, digitalized world, retailers should implement conversational AI into their network to increase efficiency, improve customer service, and improve overall sales. 

#2. Generate Additional Leads

Conversational AI helps retailers engage with customers by asking them questions, sending out surveys, and playing games or fun quizzes. This allows e-commerce brands to collect customer feedback and information and send them personalized recommendations and news. The process of generating leads while simultaneously engaging with potential customers is an opportunity for businesses to build strong customer relationships. AI virtual assistants can guide customers through the network based on their preferences, interests, or even demographics based on customers’ information. This helps retailers reach the right customers with suitable advertising. 

#3. Use Human Labor for More Valuable Tasks

Many companies waste time and money on human labor by assigning employees tasks that AI agents could easily and quickly complete. Automation can alleviate some of the tedious tasks that human employees spend much of their time completing during their workday. 

Data entry, transaction processing, transcription, or other mundane tasks can now be completely automated, and employees can focus on more important tasks like actionable customer service or sensitive customer inquiries. AI can make employees more productive while also costing the company less money overall. 

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#4. Deliver 24/7 Customer Service

Not everyone works the same schedule; some people cannot engage with your business during traditional working hours. Customers want to be able to engage with companies at any time. Today’s customer trends include shorter attention spans, preferences to shopping from mobile devices, and peer communication as a reference for new businesses. 

Conversational AI solutions can be used 24/7 on any device. They can connect retailers with customers for inquiries, issues, and more, all without the need to wait in a queue for a representative to respond. According to a survey conducted by Forrester in 2015, 53% of customers will likely desert their online purchases if they can’t find quick solutions to their questions. 73% say that convenience and value of time are some of the most important things companies can do to provide good customer service. This figure has motivated retailers to implement conversational AI solutions.

Conversational AI can help businesses provide exceptional post-purchase experiences for customers, too. AI virtual assistants can seamlessly respond to customer inquiries such as order tracking, questions, payment issues, and automatically direct more complex issues to human support agents in the correct department. By doing so, humans work alongside AI to improve customer service, boost productivity and improve efficiency. 

#5. Simplify Order Processing and Tracking

Conversational AI can also help close sales through conversations with customers. They can now simply order products while chatting with an AI virtual agent. Customers can enter their name, telephone number, billing and shipping address, and payment information. The checkout process can be completed automatically through conversational bots and then redirected to a preconfigured checkout page with confirmation. 

An excellent example of this is the Starbucks app. The app allows customers to order a personalized drink by conversing with an AI conversational assistant in their app. Customers can write the type of drink they want to order, and the AI bot will swiftly recognize the intent and order it for them. Notifications can be sent throughout the process, and the customer can know when their order is ready for pickup.

In a more conventional retail, e-commerce context, however, customers want to be able to track their orders and know when they are shipping in as few steps as possible. They can chat with an AI conversational assistant and learn the status of their purchases almost instantly. As soon as the order is placed, the customer can ask where their package is, expected or previous date and time of delivery, get information about the post-service and get their contact information from the conversational AI agent, should something suspicious occur.

According to a 2016 study by IBM, 56% of millennials have switched from one company to another because of underwhelming customer service. Conversational AI can quickly boost customer service capabilities by helping human team members quickly find the information they need to help customers have a better experience.

#6. Manage Holiday Promos

Conversational AI can help customers find exactly what they are looking for much more efficiently than ever before. Along with this assistance, customers can also compare products and prices to ensure that they make the right decision. AI conversational assistants can also deliver seasonal offers and inform customers of current and future holiday promotions for their business. Brands will now be able to personalize customer experiences faster and easier than ever before. Retailers will understand current trends and customer needs and better communicate with them, ensuring that they enjoy a safe, secure, and confident overall retail experience.

Implementing conversational AI into retail is not a trend to be forgotten anytime soon; it is here to stay. It offers far more than just simple communication with customers. It supports growing customer expectations, a deeper understanding of your business with accurate insights and continuous feedback, and improves the customer experience overall.

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