Chatbots: Essential for Retailers of all Sizes

Posted on 09.22.16

Chatbots: Essential for Retailers of all Sizes

By Meredith Wilson, CPA, Business Assurance & Advisory Services Manager | Manufacturing, Distribution & Retail Industry Team

For the retail industry, a key trend emerging is the use of Chatbots. A Chatbot is an interactive service powered by rules and/or artificial intelligence. The service lives in a chat interface such as Text Messaging, Facebook Messenger, etc.

Let’s say you wanted to purchase a jacket online. Instead of logging onto a retailer’s website and browsing their inventory, if they had a Chatbot, you could simply message the retailer using Facebook Messenger and tell it what you are looking for. Rather than browsing a website, you would have a conversation with the Chatbot, similar to the type of experience you would get by physically entering a retail store.

How do they work?

There are two ways for Chatbots to function:

(1) Based on rules
A rule-based Chatbot can only respond to specific commands and is therefore only as smart as it is taught to be.

(2) Using machine learning (or artificial intelligence)
A Chatbot that functions using artificial intelligence understands language and gets smarter as it learns from previous conversations.

How can they help my business?

Customers have identified that great service is essential to a positive customer experience, however achieving this can be both expensive and time-consuming for retailers as it is traditionally dependent on human labor. Chatbots allow customers to receive the quick responses they desire, without significantly increasing the retailer’s’ manpower. Chatbots have been used by larger retailers such as H&M, Sephora, and 1-800-Flowers, recently however, the trend has shifted to smaller retailers. Chatbots can provide significant benefits while saving both time and money to retailers of all sizes. Chatbots allow for immediate customer support, increased ecommerce sales, and more automation and efficiency.

How to develop a Chatbot?

Building a Chatbot is not as daunting as it may seem. First, select a platform and server to run the Chatbot and then select from numerous services that can build the Chatbot.

Examples include:

  • ai (owned by Facebook)
  • Howdy’s Botkit
  • IBM’s Watson

If the idea is still intimidating, there are Chatbot developers all over the world who can build the Chatbot for you.

The use of Chatbots will make retailers and customers more efficient and more productive. It will also enhance the customer experience as customer service becomes easier to provide. Chatbots are a tool that can help retailers develop new strategies and create new conveniences for customers which will distinguish them from their competitors.

Questions about leveraging Chatbot's for your business?  We have local contacts that can assist you in building a Chatbot that meets your business needs.  Contact your Keiter representative or our Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail team | Email | 804.747.0000.

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Richmond Retail CPA FirmMeredith is a Manager in Keiter’s Business Assurance & Advisory Services group. Her clients rely on her for insights on changing regulations and compliance requirements that are relevant to their business.  She works with clients in the retail, financial services, technology industries as well as not-for-profit organizations. Meredith is a member of Keiter’s Manufacturing, Distribution & Retail Industry team.

 

 

 

Source: Chatbots Magazine

The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.