Retail AI-powered chatbots are relatively new for most retailers and brands, but chatbot fever is here. There’s a lot of excitement around the technology, but most agree, it’s still early days for chatbots.
Early commerce chatbot functionality has been focused on things like:
- Basic customer service – including easy queries like what are your store hours, where are the men’s shirts in the store, do you carry black skinny jeans, was my order was delivered?
- Fashion collections – these include viewing of collections, sometimes gamified. A great example of this was the Burberry chatbot for Fashion Week 2016, which created a “maze” for their collection’s inspiration.
But the future of where chatbots are going (and we’re not quite there yet), is much more interesting and exciting:
- Trusted advice – Getting styling advice from a bot that feels like a real stylist. Example: I have this printed top. What should I wear with it? This is really hard, but could be incredibly useful in increasing mobile purchasing.
- Discovery – What is cool and trending right now in fashion? Example: The bot sends back personalized recommendations of summer tops with bell sleeves. Many of these will require some human help, especially in the early days.
- Shopper feedback – using chatbots to gain customer insights for product development (versus boring old customer surveys). Example: Do you prefer one printed dress over another?
Startups like Claire, Bowtie, Operator, Banter, and AddStructure are building chatbot products for commerce. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there that I haven’t seen yet. Do you have chatbot fever? Are you working on a retail chatbot startup? I’d love to hear from you.