Customers don’t walk into stores and immediately look for a sales associate anymore. According to a recent Salisfy study, 77 percent of shoppers use their mobile devices to find information while in-store instead of asking a sales associate for help. For retailers looking to engage with, better serve and understand their customers, this is a huge missed opportunity. By not collecting and identifying customer questions in-store, retailers are passing up valuable insight on customer shopping habits. Virtual customer assistants, also known as chatbots, can be the perfect tool to help retailers reclaim the in-store experience, while also ensuring their online experience is equally optimized. Chatbots can act as a bridge between the web and brick-and-mortar stores, answering questions in real time and offering personalized assistance in-store using context from a customer’s online activity.
Today’s retailers struggle when navigating and attempting to support the increasingly complex customer journey. Regardless of whether they plan to shop in-store or online, consumers now access support resources through a number of entry points, be it a website, mobile application or social channels such as Twitter. It’s critical that retailers meet customers at each of these points and ensure that, regardless of where they are in the customer journey, they're supported.
While this is expected in e-commerce, when it comes to in-store shopping these tools are underused and can be critical to closing a sale. Should a consumer come to a store and be unable to easily find an answer regarding a product, for example, they're more likely to give up and leave. With a limited number of sales associates on the floor, not every shopper can be attended to when they need it. This is where mobile chatbots come in, providing a fast and easy option for consumers looking for immediate answers. Imbedded into every customer entry point, chatbots are able to provide up-to-date information on product details and inventory levels. Should an item not be in stock, a chatbot can direct a shopper to alternate options — e.g., ordering the item online or connecting with an in-store associate who has been alerted. This not only improves customer satisfaction, but also ensures that retailers don’t lose sales due to out-of-stock items.
When it becomes clear that a consumer needs that human touch to complete a purchase or ensure an excellent shopping experience, smart chatbots can connect him or her with an in-store associate who can draw on the information collected from the chatbot conversation to better serve that customer’s needs. Even eagle-eyed sales associates cannot spot every confused, distressed or rushed customer on their own, but chatbots help sales associates quickly identify customer intent and provide personalized service.
Perhaps most importantly, chatbots allow retailers to collect data from in-store shoppers in the same way they collect insights online. Mobile chatbots allow retailers to see what consumers are searching for in-store and the types of questions they need answers to. This allows retailers to have a more holistic view of the average customer experience, identifying pain points and helping to prevent shoppers from virtually or literally abandoning their shopping carts in the future. Incorporating this insight with the capabilities to update customer resources in real time helps retailers stay one step ahead when it comes to optimizing the overall customer experience.
In order to survive in the new e-commerce landscape, retailers must create a seamless in-store and e-commerce customer experience, meeting their customers at every touchpoint and gathering valuable data along the way.
Amit Ben is chief technology officer and co-founder of Nanorep, a provider of personalized customer self-service, virtual assistant and chatbot solutions.
Amit Ben is chief technology officer and co-founder of Nanorep. He has over 15 years experience leading and developing online solutions and machine learning algorithms. Amit’s biggest passion project currently is spearheading the NLP element, which is at the core of Nanorep's intelligent technology.