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Chatbots Conversational commerce

Published on 15.05.2019 by Sophie Hundertmark, Partner, Paixon GmbH

Conversational commerce – selling by chatbot, or to put it more elegantly, selling with the help of a digital assistant?

More and more companies are implementing chatbots, or bots for short, on their website or in Facebook Messenger. Chatbots are chat boxes and messaging apps in which user queries are answered by intelligent software instead of a real person.

With conversational commerce, the technology is taken a step further – the smart digital assistant not only responds to customer queries, but is also able to sell products directly to the customer. The sales and payment processes are handled right there in the chat.

How did this trend emerge?

Technological advancements make it possible for people to communicate with software in a natural way, and this even allows for the handling of business processes such as order processing. In other words, smart chatbots enable communication between people and machines.

At the same time, messenger services such as Facebook and WhatsApp have made online chat one of the most common forms of communication. Almost every smartphone user is accustomed to having conversations via chat. Many users even use messenger services more frequently than their smartphone’s traditional calling function.

Companies can use conversational commerce in the following three use cases in particular.

Product finder and sales via a chat box on the website

In the B2C sector in particular, product finders are a well-used method for guiding users to their desired product, which they then hopefully add to their shopping basket and order online.

The Swiss company Geschenkidee.ch uses a product finder in addition to its chatbot. Users do not have to hunt through different product categories to find their chosen product – instead, the chatbot asks them the questions required to identify their purchasing preferences.

At the end of the advice process, the user receives several products to choose from.

With conversational commerce, the customer can even order and pay for their chosen product directly with the chatbot.

Lead and conversion generation for a website with a subscription service

Users visit a website with the traditional three different subscription options and prices. They read the benefits of the different subscriptions, but still can’t make up their minds quickly. Either the individual features of the different subscriptions are not clearly visible, users do not understand the differences between the subscriptions, they do not know which subscription suits their target group, or they have other questions that go beyond the traditional subscription descriptions. These might be questions on the product or on how to cancel the subscription.

In this case, a chatbot on the website is the perfect solution. The chatbot launches whenever it notices that a user is indecisive. It asks the user how it can help, and ideally suggests 2–3 topics. Thanks to the bot’s focused questions, the software quickly finds out which subscription is the right one for the user and can also explain why it is the best choice. Thanks to stored databases and natural language processing (NLP) components, the bot can receive queries from users and work out their intentions from these questions. Users will understand why they should purchase the corresponding subscription and can order it directly via the chatbot.

Selling via Facebook Messenger

Many companies struggle to attract their target group to their own website or online shop. They place advertisements on all platforms, but the conversion rate remains low. Why should potential customers have to adapt to a new channel, when everything is already possible using Facebook Messenger? Users can communicate directly with the supplier’s bot through a Facebook ad or the Facebook page of the relevant company, and the supplier can advise customers directly in Facebook Messenger (via smartphone or desktop) and sell them the right products.

H&M has done this very successfully for some time. The fashion retailer shows its users various product images with different styles in order to find out a customer’s individual tastes. The bot can then recommend items of clothing that match the user’s search, and even immediately sell the items and handle the payment process.

Sophie Hundertmark, Partner, Paixon GmbH

Sophie Hundertmark is the founder of aiZuerich and supports the AI for marketing community both in Zurich and in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as a whole. Through aiZuerich, she organizes meetups and conferences on the subject of AI in marketing.
Sophie is one of the first Master’s students in Switzerland to conduct research on chatbots. She is now a partner at Paixon GmbH – a Zurich start-up which provides strategic support for the implementation of chatbot projects.

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