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Sales In A Chatbot: Is The Future Of eCommerce Transaction Automation Through A Conversational Interface?

inspirations

As chatbots become more sophisticated and prevalent in our lives, it’s no surprise they are making their way into the eCommerce world.

Why gab with a human when you can avoid pleasantries and be direct with a chatbot designed to help you purchase? Purchasing within a bot sounds very exciting, and now the features are accessible to small businesses and brands.

I’ll talk about the benefits of chatbot eCommerce, answer questions I would expect to put in an FAQ, and discuss how transaction automation with conversational technology might be the future of online sales.

What is transaction automation?

Transaction automation is a process for completing a purchase without human interaction. Credit card payments through a point-of-sale system are a form of transaction automation; the customer doesn’t hand cash to the cashier for them to know you’ve paid.

While credit cards were a game-changer, they didn’t make it possible for a cashier to take countless transactions simultaneously. 

Enter automation.

Automating the transaction process allows businesses to remove cashiers from the equation altogether. Many companies will then implement a broader service team like marketing, customer success, or customer support that help guide more challenging sales experiences at various stages of the funnel.

Many fast-food conglomerates have now added transaction automation to their physical locations, allowing customers to place orders on a touch screen and only interact with a human when they need support or pick up their order.

Some brick-and-mortar stores allow customers to complete transactions directly within an application before arriving, making for an efficient in-store experience and keeping their brand easily accessible to their customers.

Most modern supermarkets now have self-checkout areas where a single cashier manages four or six stations. If the customer doesn’t require assistance, they might not have to interact with a human being the entire time they are in the store.

The same is true for eCommerce. 

Once customers decide to buy, there’s no need for human interaction. Many sites don’t even offer the possibility to talk to a human.

Chatbots are making their way into the world of eCommerce.

As chatbots become more prevalent in society, it’s only logical that they would begin to evolve the ability to drive even greater value for businesses. And what better way to do that than by completing purchases?

Just as chatbots have changed the customer service landscape, they are changing how we shop.

How chatbots have already transformed eCommerce.

We are moving toward a future where chatbots will play a more significant role in online sales. 

Here’s how chatbots have changed online sales already:

  • Providing personalised experiences by engaging users in natural conversations.
  • Managing customer service inquiries by answering common questions and concerns.
  • Always available, providing users with a 24/7 customer support touchpoint.
  • Providing product recommendations based on data points, including past purchases, search history, and freely given preferences.
  • Collecting customer data and feedback gives businesses valuable insights into their users.

And now, chatbots are changing the game again by becoming the final step in the transactional customer experience. 

What do eCommerce chatbots offer?

As automation technology evolves, businesses are exploring the value of eCommerce chatbots. Moving the transaction process into a chat environment allows brands to offer a highly personalised customer experience.

In addition, a bot automates many of the tasks involved in online sales, from customer service to order processing.

What does an eCommerce chatbot offer businesses and brands?

If you’re reading this, you may already know some of the value chatbots bring by automating several typically time-consuming services for sales, marketing, and customer success teams.

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An eCommerce chatbot takes an entirely different approach to sales and customer interaction than traditional methods, focusing heavily on the unique customer.

Moreover, they automate tasks that brands might not have previously had the resources to operate. For example, a bot automates follow-up tasks with a user providing shipping information, order details or triggering sales-reinforcement automation workflows. 

A bot can integrate with external services to manage email marketing automation and brand loyalty.

A chatbot can efficiently conduct A/B testing, alternating various aspects of the customer journey to help a business identify what works better.

Chatbots are exceptional at making product recommendations and upselling. Based on a wide variety of data points like a user’s previous pages viewed or based on the items in their cart, the bot can make intelligent recommendations that are more likely to convert than potentially distracting static suggestions.

And this is only the beginning.

What does an eCommerce chatbot offer users?

Chatbot technology is developing fast. It’s only a matter of time before they become as ubiquitous in our lives as smartphones have.

Just as smartphones have changed how we connect and communicate, bots will change how we shop.

There are several advantages that eCommerce chatbots have over traditional eCommerce websites:

A chatbot offers a natural and convenient customer experience. 

We often have a conversation with friends or family to get personal experiences to validate a buying decision. 

Bots reinforce this approach by completing transactions conversationally and facilitating the validation conversation.

A bot provides personalised experiences. 

Chatbots make product recommendations that cater to our individual needs by understanding our preferences and habits. 

A well-designed bot might know your customers better than they know themselves! (okay, that’s a stretch, but it’s interesting to think about)

A chatbot offers a faster and more efficient experience. 

We interact with a bot in real-time to get the information we need without clicking through pages of a website. 

Imagine telling a bot what you need; the bot understands your intent and responds with appropriate product recommendations.

No distractions, just an experience with your brand that pleases the customer. 

Consumers can save money with a chatbot. 

Chatbots can recommend deals and discounts by understanding customers’ budgets and preferences.

User: “Hi bot, I have €6,000, and I need a reliable used car.”

Bot: “Hi human, we have several vehicles under €6,000 that have completed our 128-point inspection process.”

A chatbot offers a convenient way to shop. 

Bot users can chat with eCommerce chatbots anytime, anywhere, and they’ll remember the user’s preferences for next time.

Your best salesperson is unlikely to have a valuable conversation at 3 am on Sunday. Humans shop at all hours of the night. Especially in a post-pandemic world, we don’t want to shop in a store if it isn’t necessary.

eCommerce chatbots have a lot to offer.

Businesses and customers alike will benefit from conversational eCommerce.

The efficiency created by a chatbot saves time and money, while the convenience and personalisation offered by chatbots enable customers to make better buying decisions.

Benefits

The benefits of chatbot-based sales.

As chatbots evolve in their sophistication, completing transactions on behalf of users will improve.

The notion that we need to talk to a human before purchasing will fade. Soon we won’t want or need humans to interfere with our shopping experience.

A chatbot submits and processes information before a sale is complete.

Data collection is valuable beyond the initial transaction.

We can add a user to a rewards program or a mailing list directly in a chat, then use that recorded data again at checkout.

A bot can ask for a customer’s shipping information and preferences upfront, so when it comes time to purchase, all the customer has to do is confirm their order. (It’s not that crazy to think a user might want to know shipping costs while browsing.)

Chatbots can take care of all the menial details that often slow down a human conversation or make a checkout feel clunky.

We can personalise the experience up to and through the conversion by gathering information in shorter, well-timed increments.

Faster checkout means fewer abandoned carts and happier customers.

A chatbot remembers user preferences.

Remembering user preferences creates convenience, builds long-term relationships, and personalises the experience for each customer.

I find it very annoying that I have to specify my shoe size every time I go to a new product page.

A bot can remember my shoe size, colour preferences, the styles I like, and much more.

I’d be more likely to do my online shopping on a website that remembers my personal details rather than one with only static product recommendations.

The perception of convenience will boost sales.

Chatbots gather personal information naturally.

A chatbot doesn’t collect information through forms and checkboxes like traditional methods. Instead, bots ask questions and gather personal information through natural conversation.

Chatbots can change their questions based on customers’ answers, allowing a bot to gather detailed and specific information.

For example, if a chatbot asks what a customer’s favourite colour is and they respond with “blue,” the bot can ask the customer what their favourite shade of blue is.

This flexibility makes bots much better at gathering customer information than traditional eCommerce platforms, where you have to make these selections manually.

Chatbots are better at automating abandoned cart workflows.

Abandoned cart recovery is one of the most critical and challenging aspects an online store will face.

It’s hard to know why a customer abandons their cart and even harder to get them to come back.

Bots can instantly reach out to customers via chat or text message and ask them why they didn’t complete their transaction.

In addition, chatbots can automate discounts, coupons, or other incentives, to users who abandon their carts to get them to come back.

Support chat with a payment option.

Imagine communicating with users about customer support tickets, and instead of directing them to a specific page hoping they convert, you automate or walk them through the entire transaction process.

Customer support bots are the new sales channels!

Of course, support has its mission and goals. But it can be compelling for a user to complete a transaction when you put it directly in the support channel.

What is conversational marketing? How does conversational marketing benefit eCommerce sales?

Conversational marketing is a new form of engagement through interactive communication touchpoints, like chatbots.

The conversational approach is valuable because it allows brands to build relationships with customers naturally.

Conversational marketing is beneficial for online sales channels because a personalised customer experience results in more profitable transactions.

Will eCommerce chatbots replace traditional online stores?

So much has already been invested in developing traditional eCommerce platforms that it’s hard to imagine them fading.

While it is fun to fantasise about talking to my phone as it guides me through the shopping experience of my favourite retailers, I think it’s more likely that we will see a split in transactional bot adoption between stores with larger inventories and those with single-product or single-service offerings.

An eCommerce chatbot is more valuable as a checkout point for simple transactions in their current state.

A business or brand with a broader variety of products may find more value in a bot guiding users to appropriate pages that facilitate transactions.

Chatbots will stay in a support role for now, but the potential is immense if we open our minds to the possibilities created with such an impactful user experience.

What to expect when building an eCommerce chatbot?

So you’re as inspired as I am about eCommerce in a bot, and you want to know what it would take to build one?

Many of the features I’ve mentioned are possible but don’t come out of the box with traditional chatbot solutions. (If they did, I probably wouldn’t be writing an article about how they are the future of online business.)

Nowadays, it has become so much easier to build a chatbot that I often wonder if a business is credible if their website doesn’t have one.

The simple solution for an eCommerce chatbot.

Alpha Alias became a Landbot.io advocate several years ago. Their marketing approach felt natural, the way they educate partners is concise, and the evolution of their feature set shows they understand small business needs.

Yeah, we’re fans.

Today, we can build Landbot chatbots in days, not months (depending on the complexity). With new eCommerce features, making a transactional bot fits in almost the same timeline.

Landbot has recently added direct integration with Stripe’s payment gateway. We can drop the technology into any website or API-powered bot.

This feature is groundbreaking for the Landbot platform and the chatbot industry.

If you’re looking to streamline eCommerce functionality in a chatbot, look no further than Landbot.

Honestly, if you’re looking for the fastest and cheapest way to accept one-time payments, you should look into Landbot.

Alpha Alias onboards companies to Landbot’s platform. We design the customer journey, configure bots, and implement them on any eCommerce shop or website.

Bespoke eCommerce chatbot solutions.

Several open-source chatbot systems are available if you’re looking for a bespoke option. Knowledgeable technical teams can work with them.

You’ll need to build eCommerce integrations from scratch, but the result will be a transactional bot that does whatever your wallet allows.

Will users use conversational eCommerce technology to complete purchases?

Will customers use it? That’s the big question.

The chatbot industry is still budding, and there are many examples of chatbots providing value to customer support.

As chatbots become more ubiquitous in their support role, we will naturally progress toward bots becoming sales channels.

Imagine an automated experience where users have questions answered in real-time, and you can purchase instantly in the same experience. It can be a powerful way to engage and convince a user at the right moment.

Will customers complete transactions in a bot?

Will customers make purchases directly in the bot? That depends on your product or service and who your users are.

Your bot can be a convenient way to find information for customers who need time to make buying decisions, improving brand perception.

Large-ticket items typically need social proof, testimonials, or a sales call, and a bot can facilitate this activity conversationally. If users want to speak with a human, they may ultimately complete their transaction in a bot.

Software like the Landbot platform offer built-in solutions that integrate with HubSpot or other CRM systems, bringing value to complex sales processes. The bot is supportive in this role.

Now we have bots for a low-touch/no-touch approach.

Conclusion

I love being inspired. The idea of having eCommerce conversion capabilities within a conversational touchpoint has me very excited.

Sure, we’re pushing Landbot, but it comes from an honest place. We believe in their platform and its ability to drive value for small to medium-sized businesses.

Whether or not you decide to build an eCommerce chatbot with Alpha Alias, it’s good to know what new technology might break the mould.

Chatbots are evolving. eCommerce is evolving. And the future of digital business is looking even more interactive.

If this article inspires you, let’s brainstorm ideas together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are transactional bots scalable and sustainable?

Yes. Chatbots integrate easily into various ecosystems, and bots have tremendous scalability opportunities.

Considering the evolution of automation, chatbots are more efficient to scale than large-scale web applications like websites or online shops.

Chatbots are sustainable beyond measure because they are so easy to modify. Especially with systems like those offered by Landbot, we can focus on content without investing heavily in technical development.

Do chatbots require personalisation to be successful?

Not necessarily. Personalisation is a practical methodology that can increase conversion rates in a transactional bot, and personalisation is not a requirement for success.

Remember that personalisation is a process, not a task.

Lastly, consider your users and apply the appropriate level of personalisation based on their profile(s).

How can I integrate chatbot technology with my CRM system, like HubSpot?

The HubSpot platform makes integration with almost any software quite simple.

Landbot has many built-in integrations that require only light configurations to set up. Linking the Landbot platform and HubSpot CRM is as simple as setting up the ‘block’ in the bot admin interface, adding an API key from HubSpot, then setting up and connecting a simple form.

These days, it’s so common to integrate CRM systems into chatbots that this shouldn’t be a problem for most options.

Are chatbots secure for processing payments?

Chatbots can be just as secure (if not more) than other methods.

When chatbots integrate with payment processors like Stripe, they can utilise the same security measures that these companies have in place.

In addition, chatbots have the added benefit of sending encrypted messages, which adds an extra layer of security.

You’ll want to make sure the shopping destinations where you place your bot are safe and compliant, but this is mainly to ensure your users aren’t discouraged from completing a transaction due to external factors.

What types of products or services are best suited for bot transactions?

We can make a case for anything, but conversion automation within the chatbot experience is best suited for SaaS companies and retail businesses with a limited selection of products.

The browsing capabilities of a bot are limited compared to an online shop. If your brand offers thousands of products, it’s best to use a bot for customer experience rather than window shopping or automating transactions (for now).

How do I know if my customers will use a chatbot to make a purchase?

Whether or not your customers will use a bot to complete a purchase depends on what you know about them. Will they appreciate an automated customer experience?

Who are your users, their age range, their preferences? Does your website currently have a chatbot for support, and do your users chat with it?

What is your product or service, and are your customers expecting human interaction as part of the sales process?

Data helps you understand what your customers might do, but you won’t know for sure until you try. Luckily, there are cost-effective options available to test the waters.

Are there any risks associated with transactional bots?

Yes. You should always make sure you are using a platform that has taken appropriate measures to alleviate risk.

For example, Landbot passes encrypted information to HubSpot and integrates Stripe directly into the bot, allowing their security features to protect customer data.

Risk is a big topic that deserves more focus. If you’d like to chat about it, please feel free to book some time, and we’ll try to navigate any questions you have.

How can I ensure my chatbot is compliant with data privacy regulations?

Most chatbot platforms are already compliant, but you shouldn’t assume so. Before investing time and energy on a platform, you should study their documentation on GDPR compliance and make sure they satisfy the requirements.

If your business collects information from users, you must link to your terms & conditions and privacy policy.