Chatbots are growing in popularity across all industries, but one place where their growth really stands out is in ecommerce.
That’s a staggering proportion of the market, suggesting that chatbots will soon become a staple of the ecommerce world.
Thinking of jumping on the trend? To give you some inspiration, this post looks at the key use cases of an ecommerce chatbot, alongside examples of the best bots in action.
Chatbots have come a long way since they were first created. Thanks to huge advancements in machine learning and natural language processing, they are getting better at understanding customers and responding appropriately.
Today, talking to an ecommerce chatbot is almost like talking to a human: they can have a personality, tell jokes, and, most importantly, they’re super efficient.
As a result, chatbots are becoming increasingly useful in the world of online customer service. For retail and ecommerce brands, they can be used to achieve a number of end goals:
Chatbots are a great way to engage customers and provide personal customer support, which in turn drives conversions and sales.
Not to mention, 61% of US customers have said they are more likely to buy from a brand if they can message them. It means the very act of having a chatbot is an easy way to boost sales.
By collecting bits of information about the user at the start of an interaction - such as location and interests - an ecommerce chatbot can quickly make the user experience more personal.
From using the customer’s name to making tailored product recommendations, personalising the experience can greatly improve customer satisfaction.
Chatbots are best known for answering customer service queries, such as FAQs. As the technology has advanced, bots have become faster and better at dealing with these questions.
To get the most out of a customer support bot, it’s best used alongside real time communications channels like live chat and video chat. This allows the bot to seamlessly transfer the customer to a live agent if it can’t deal with the request.
A creative, well-built chatbot is a great way to promote a business. A quick witted bot with a strong personality can generate press and create a memorable experience, bringing traffic to an ecommerce store through word of mouth.
Dealing with online bookings and orders is a simple task that can take up a lot of time for live agents. An ecommerce chatbot can easily deal with these requests, reducing the demand on a contact centre.
In general, chatbots make booking and ordering much faster. Plus, by remembering key customer details like address information, they increase the chance of customers returning for fast service.
We all know data is the king of marketing: the more you have, the more you can successfully retarget customers.
An ecommerce chatbot is the perfect way to collect customer data without interrupting the customer journey. With just a few questions, they can gather information on personal preferences, allowing businesses to retarget a customer with highly personalised ads.
Below are some of the most innovative and successful ecommerce chatbots deployed by brands across the world.
Demonstrating lots of different use cases, they’re all great examples of how chatbots can be used across a wide range of online businesses to achieve different goals.
To complement its ecommerce store, the multinational clothing retail brand H&M developed a chatbot for the messaging platform Kik.
Acting as a virtual stylist, the bot offers tailored outfit inspiration for every user. It’s a fine example of using a chatbot to create a personal online customer experience.
To kick off, H&M’s ecommerce chatbot will ask the user to choose between two photos showing different outfits. Once the user has answered a handful of these multi-choice style questions, the bot quickly builds a style persona for the individual.
It then puts together a personalised outfit, displaying all the items alongside the combined price for the full outfit.
From here, the user can click on the outfit to ‘shop’ or ‘save’ the items. If they choose to ‘shop’, they are taken directly to the H&M website where they can purchase all the items with just a few clicks.
Individuals can also see and vote on outfits created by other users. A fun exchange for users while giving H&M tons of data on popular pieces, trends, and customer preferences.
In all, the bot creates a personalised experience for users, streamlines the sales process to increase purchases, and collects valuable data for H&M to use for highly relevant retargeting efforts.
Key takeaway: As well as driving sales, chatbots are an effective way to gather data that can inform future sales and marketing processes.
Use cases: personalised experience, increase sales and conversions, gather customer data
One of the most successful toy companies in the world, Lego was the first toy retailer to introduce an ecommerce chatbot to its customers.
First rolled out to support Christmas sales in 2017, Ralph the chatbot was a huge success. Operating on Facebook Messenger, it drove 25% of all social media sales and returned a 71% reduction in cost per conversion.
Not surprisingly, Lego decided to extend the use of its ecommerce chatbot: Ralph now guides customers through Lego’s staggering catalogue all year round.
It starts by segmenting the user into categories, including region, age and interests of the giftee, as well as budget. This helps to both narrow down and personalise gift recommendations.
With this information, Ralph suggests a handful of Lego toy sets. Users can click on the set to be transferred straight to their shopping basket on the Lego site, from where they can quickly buy the set.
If the user fails to complete the process, they’re retargeted within 24 hours with a friendly Facebook message asking if they need more help.
The whole concept is simple enough, but it’s been highly effective for Lego in increasing sales and conversions.
What’s particularly special about Ralph is its (or maybe we should say his!) personality. Throwing in phrases like ‘oh my bolts’ alongside gifs of the bot at work, it is highly engaging and conversational. It’s elements like this that really make it stand out from the crowd.
Key takeaway: Investing the time and money to create a chatbot that has a distinct and memorable personality can go a long way.
Use cases: personalised experience, increase sales and conversions
Denim retailer Levi’s ecommerce chatbot covers all the bases: it offers customer support and acts as a virtual stylist.
The customer support functionality is pretty standard. The user chooses from predefined responses (e.g. deliveries, returns), and the bot directs them to where they can find the answer on the Levi website.
The virtual stylist is far more exciting, helping users find the right style, fit, rise, and even stretch of jeans.
Starting with multi-choice questions about body shape, it moves on to preferred look, fit, and occasion, e.g. casual or office. The bot then offers personalised jean picks.
All the recommendations are synced up with Levi’s real time inventory, which avoids cart abandonment at the checkout stage due to items being out of stock.
In a further bid to get customers to purchase the jeans, the user can also see their picks ‘styled’ as part of a full outfit.
What we like most about Levi’s chatbot is that it addresses a specific problem the retailer identified. By helping customers find the right fitting jeans for them, it helps reduce online returns based on sizing issues.
Key takeaway: Design your chatbot to solve a specific problem that is affecting your business e.g. too many returns, too many cart abandonments.
Use cases: personalised experience, deal with customer queries
If you’re looking for simplicity in a chatbot, German body care brand Nivea is the perfect example.
Nivea offers a simple ecommerce chatbot dedicated to just one part of their business: face care. It is designed to help users find their skin type.
This is all achieved with just three questions. For each question, users can choose from a selection of four responses.
By the end of the exchange, which lasts less than a minute, the user has their skin type. They are then given a link to a Nivea webpage full of tips and products designed to look after their type of skin.
The Nivea chatbot is very basic, yet it is still effective. By focusing on a specific goal and one specific customer need, Nivea created a very targeted chatbot that appealed to a particular customer persona.
Key takeaway: Chatbots don’t need to be complicated to be effective. A simple chatbot (e.g. with limited questions and responses) can be developed quickly and easily with tools such as DialogFlow.
Use cases: personal experience, increase sales and conversions
Ebay’s shopbot is another example of a virtual shopping assistant. With billions of listings posted on the site every day, the bot is designed to simplify the shopping experience.
To get started, users can enter a word or phrase that explains what they are looking for. The bot then searches for related listings, narrowing down the number of products the user needs to wade through.
It can also find results based on images. Users can upload a photo and the chatbot will find similar listings. For example, uploading a photo of black high heels will lead to - you guessed it - listings of black high heels.
If the user finds an item they like, a click will take them directly to the listing.
The bot also makes listing recommendations based on past purchases, and allows users to provide feedback on items and sellers.
In all, the chatbot gives the user a streamlined version of Ebay on Facebook Messenger. It’s a good example of using a bot to do the hard work for customers e.g. find products that match their criteria.
Key takeaway: If you sell a lot of products, an ecommerce chatbot is an ideal way to help customers sift through your catalogue.
Use cases: personal experience, gather customer data
Leading the way for beauty stores worldwide, cosmetic retailer Sephora was one of the first brands to introduce bots on Facebook Messenger and Kik.
It has since taken full advantage of the advancement in chatbot technology with two innovative ecommerce chatbots: Sephora Virtual Artist and Sephora Reservation Assistant.
The reservation bot is a shining example of using a chatbot to connect the online and in-store sales process.
Through the bot, users can book a makeover appointment in their nearest Sephora store. Built to recognise postcodes and cities, the bot can locate the closest Sephora location based on either detail.
Once booked, the user gets a confirmation email sent directly to their inbox. Making the whole booking process quick and easy, the bot has an 11% higher conversion rate than the other channels Sephora uses for in-store bookings!
Impressive as the reservation bot is, the Sephora Virtual Artist is much more inventive. This bot is designed to help users colour match Sephora products like lipsticks.
Users simply hold their phone up to an item or image and the bot will detect the colour. It will then display products that match. This works for items of clothing, makeup, faces, and even pictures of celebrities wearing the user’s favourite beauty products.
This latter ability really capitalises on the popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram. Users can show the bot an Instagram post of a look they love and it can help them recreate it with Sephora products.
Both Sephora bots are a picture perfect illustration of syncing up multiple channels for a true omnichannel customer experience.
Key takeaway: Chatbots can help you connect different online channels, as well as connect your online presence with your brick and mortar store.
Use cases: personal experience, take bookings/reservations and orders
For the non-Brits out there, PG Tips is a tea brand owned by the multinational company Unilever. In the UK, it is renowned for its advertisements featuring a tea-loving puppet called Monkey.
For Comic Relief 2017, PG Tips decided to make the most of the monkey’s popularity by bringing the character to life with a joke telling chatbot.
Available on Facebook Messenger, the ‘Monkey bot’ aimed to generate laughs and drive donations to Comic Relief by telling users jokes accompanied by gifs of Monkey laughing.
Users typed, ‘Tell me a joke’, and the chatbot responded with a cheesy gag. After the joke, users were given the options to share it on Twitter or Facebook, or to make a donation.
Whether Monkey was actually funny is up for debate - one joke example: What’s the most important letter in the British alphabet? T! Either way, the chatbot definitely engaged the British public, raised donations, and promoted the brand during it’s 6 week run.
Although not the best in terms of capabilities, the Monkey bot shows that an ecommerce chatbot doesn’t need to be a permanent feature, and doesn’t need to be directly tied into sales.
Key takeaway: Chatbots can be time limited and campaign specific. Think of certain campaigns/releases you have coming up and see if you can create a chatbot to assist those.
Use cases: brand awareness
Another slightly different but highly inspirational ecommerce chatbot example is the Insomnobot3000 developed by mattress retailer Casper.
With their bot, Casper puts a whole new spin on bed/mattress companies targeting people who can’t get a good night’s sleep.
Operating between the hours of 11pm and 5am, Insomnobot3000 is designed to be a companion for people with insomnia. As Casper VP Lindsay Kaplan stated ‘Some nights, it’s just impossible to fall asleep, so I think Casper wanted to create something that’s a friend that keeps you up at night’.
With no upselling or product suggestions, the bot is simple there to have a chat. It’s very conversational, being able to understand and respond to freely typed messages as opposed to just scripted conversations.
It wouldn’t be amiss to question the effectiveness of this bot. What’s it really doing for Casper?
Well, chatbot success isn’t all about sales and conversions. While Insomnobot3000 might not be directly creating sales, it’s definitely driving brand awareness.
Different, clever, and fun, Insomnobot 3000 has generated press and definitely got people talking.
Key takeaway: Your chatbot doesn’t need to directly promote and sell your products. A creative and well executed chatbot can be a great way to build brand awareness.
Use cases: brand awareness
Pizza chain Domino’s has one of the most widely dispersed chatbots on the market. Available on multiple channels, including Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Slack, and Twitter, it’s aim is to make it easy to order Domino’s from anywhere.
The chatbot takes the user through the stages of ordering a pizza in a simple and engaging way: from choosing toppings to selecting a time slot for delivery. It also embeds Domino’s popular order tracking feature.
Additionally, the chatbot can save and remember previous orders. Users can choose to ‘re-order’ their favourite pizzas without going through the stages of choosing their pizza, and entering their address and payment details.
This is a great way to get users to return - why go through the order process again with another pizza chain when you can order Domino’s with just a few clicks on your favourite messaging app?
The Domino's ecommerce chatbot really highlights the importance of being where your customers are. A chatbot can allow customers to make orders, reservations, and even purchases on their channel of choice.
Just remember, if you are taking payments through an ecommerce chatbot, the bot needs to be PCI compliant.
Key takeaway: An order taking chatbot is a great way to improve customer and employee satisfaction. It frees up agents while pleasing customers with fast and reliable service.
Use cases: personal experience, take orders/reservations, increase sales
An ecommerce chatbot can have lots of functionalities. From customer support to generating brand awareness, it can be designed to suit your business.
We hope this post has given you lots of inspiration for a chatbot idea. Let us know your unique ecommerce chatbot designs in the comments below!
Get monthly insights from our experts straight to your inbox.