In 2016, we saw retailers begin to experiment with chatbots. Customers could place orders or contact customer service through the use of this technology. The rise in chatbot popularity became clear when Facebook Messenger announced it would be integrating with retailers to allow consumers to make purchases right in the platform.
Now Narvar, a software-as-a-service platform that helps brands with post-purchase experiences, is helping retailers tap into the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to customer demand for highly personalized experiences.
Shoe retailer DSW has implemented AI-driven chatbot technology to proactively deliver updates and personalized messages to customers. Total Retail interviewed Brian Seewald, vice president of digital at DSW, to get an inside look at the company’s chatbot strategy.
Total Retail: How is DSW using chatbots?
Brian Seewald: We’re using a Narvar chatbot to share real-time information with customers after they complete their purchase. We’re also testing another chatbot, the DSW Gift Concierge, that's a shopping assistant that helps customers find holiday gifts.
TR: What are some examples of things customers can do with the chatbot?
BS: With the chatbot, customers can receive follow-up messages about the delivery of their recent purchase and request to change their delivery address or time slot. With the DSW Gift Concierge, customers can search for the perfect gift by selecting a category (men’s, women’s or kid’s) and then choosing the personality of the gift recipient. The chatbot will display suggestions filtered by price point in a matter of minutes. It makes finding the right holiday gift faster and less stressful.
TR: Why did DSW implement chatbots?
BS: Customer expectations are changing rapidly, and chatbots gave us a great opportunity to provide our customers with a simple, intuitive experience on a channel they’re already using. Chatbot conversations are easy and customers don’t have to work to get the information they want. With chatbots, we can also learn and adjust to meet our customers’ needs, while staying on top of emerging technologies.
TR: What parts of the business do chatbots help improve?
BS: Chatbots improve the post-purchase experience and help us be there when our customers need us, every step of the way until shoes are on their feet. The shopping experience doesn’t end when the customer clicks “Buy.” We want to stay top of mind for customers by providing order updates and sharing real-time information and support.
TR: What results are you seeing from the use of chatbots?
BS: It’s too early to share specific results at this time. The conversations happening via chatbots indicates that customers like to know the real-time location and estimated delivery time of their packages. Customers appreciate that they’re able to communicate with chatbots in a natural, human way and receive information when they want it most.
TR: What role do you think chatbots will play in retail’s future?
BS: We would like to see voice recognition incorporated in chatbots, where customers can simply ask a question and the chatbot will deliver relevant, personalized information. Conversations with online retailers will become much more fun and engaging, and the experience will be catered to the customer.