A One-touch Game: Chat Bots in Online Retail

[Guest post by Daria Samokish]

Taking a part at last conference team-members of Competera received a fine question: “What will eventually happen with online retail business in late 2016 – early 2017 as a result of active IM bots development?”. Let us sort out this issue.

The artificial intelligence representatives are treated like assistants in daily work, helping to save time and money for various kinds of operations (let’s take the bot which has helped adjudge about 3 million pounds from the government for improper parking fines). Online retail business will join this game sooner or later and it will rebuild the internal processes of their work itself.

Messengers Revolution

Constantly growing popularity is linked to several mutually supportive factors: in our “accelerating” world, any unscheduled call, especially made during working hours becomes less and less desirable; although users are eager to constantly stay in touch but they dislike when their personal space is violated. And messengers do solve both issues, providing “streamed” communication and allowing users respond to messages when it is most convenient for them.

Have you thought why users do not want to install new applications on their smartphones? The existing pool of installed applications is able to solve all the pressing tasks, and new apps installation is a rather complicated process from the standpoint of users. That is why for past few years UX professionals from around the world are trying to reconsider the entire concept of a traditional smartphone, loaded with applications.

Nowadays the native applications main users are repeat purchasers. And now the same loyal customers will eventually use chat bots because messengers – the platforms on which chat bots exist – already “reside” in purchaser’s smartphones.


A new shopping experience

The largest Internet hypermarkets still callback even to registered customer who makes the 10th purchase in order to confirm the purchase order actuality. This very stumbling block –lack of trust in the customer– should vanish with chat bots introduction. After all, if any buyer chooses to communicate with the retailer via their chat, the chat bot is already “familiar” with the user and knows all his basic contacts and all the possible shipping addresses.

How to create your own chat bot

There is nothing difficult in the process of bot development, as even a junior developer will easily sort out popular messengers’ API. It may take up to two months (plus a month for testing and bug fixing) to develop a good bot for an online store, which will not only respond the customer inquiries but even give some advice. The matter is that any product should be constantly perfected, so there is a need in some kind of a team who will consistently develop a smarter bot. Then, the number of repeat visits and orders will become the effectiveness measure rather than the number of bots installations.

The chat bots evolution we shall surely witness

A quality chat bot for online retail business is a kind of a personal assistant, protecting the user from the brand excessive communication and at the same time giving easy access for repeat purchases. So, the very retailers able to provide this new interaction experience, rather than spam mailout analogues, will win the struggle for the customer.


The development of bots able to “understand” other bots – superbots (supervisor + bot = superbot) will be the next stage. They will become much smarter than popular today price aggregators themselves, as they will manage to analyze the user’s text enquiry, containing certain parameters. “Find me Bluetooth headphones: cheap/long warranty/fast delivery”: responding to such an enquiry, the superbot will analyze a list of prices and stores, having this product in stock and will offer the best solution to satisfy all (including previous purchase data) user requirements. Many superbots will utilize the Cost Per Order model, connecting the buyer and the seller.

By the end of 2016, ordering products/services via bots would be a usual experience. To say more, the main shoppers are women, and they already actively use messengers. So, the revolution of bots will eventually happen when such people will make use of their “favorite little bot” which will suggest the best outfit, depending on the weather.

Well, who will be the first online retailer to support and lead this revolution? It remains to be seen!

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