The 7 Best Ecommerce Chatbot Solutions and What Makes Ecommerce Bots Succeed

Written by Dylan Max  on   May 28, 2021

From product recommendations to one-on-one personal shopping and customer support to order management, the use cases for ecommerce chatbot solutions are endless. This is why the eCommerce industry was one of the first industries to embrace chatbots and conversational AI virtual assistants. 

And the need for eCommerce chatbots has never been higher than it is today. Online shopping is one of the most popular activities in the world, and the industry is more competitive than ever. There’s a healthy new pipeline of digital-first retailers built on the idea of customer-obsession and seamless end-to-end experiences. At the same time, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have accelerated digital innovation in the wake of COVID-19 looking to remove friction while also replicating highly-personalized, one-on-one interactions with customers at scale. In fact, McKinsey reported that in just eight weeks, five years of consumer and business digital adoption occurred during COVID-19. 

All of this comes at a time when people are less loyal. Shockingly only 9% of consumers are brand loyal today. eCommerce companies are competing as much on customer experience as price: 61% have switched brands due to poor customer service and more than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service.  Prioritizing customer service, though, can pay off: 78% of customers say the quality of service is fundamental to earning their repeat business and US consumers say they’re willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service. 

In this post, we’re diving into the best use cases for an eCommerce chatbot, our favorite eCommerce chatbots of all time and strategies for a successful eCommerce CX automation strategy. 

What are the top use cases for eCommerce chatbots? 

eCommerce companies using chatbots for customer service can streamline the entire customer journey. Here are our favorite use cases: 

1. Immediate responses to common customer service FAQs

Customer service chatbots are one of the most common use cases for AI across industries, but they are especially prevalent in the eCommerce space:  From product care and return policies to warranty information and troubleshooting, eCommerce chatbots can provide immediate answers to common questions. This can save a person from scrolling through pages of an online knowledge base or reaching out on a channel that requires more heavy lifting. 

2. Personal shopping and product discovery

AI-powered chatbots can understand shopper preferences to curate highly personal product recommendations. Chatbots are also used frequently during the holiday shopping season, helping shoppers find the perfect gift for everyone on their list based on price range, interests and other attributes. 

3. Conversational commerce

eCommerce chatbots can provide a seamless add to cart and checkout experience, all within a natural conversational interface across live chat, Facebook and social media pages, messaging apps and SMS. 

4. Return prevention

It’s estimated that over 30% of all online purchases are returned. If a shopper is conducting behavior that indicates a return is likely, eCommerce chatbots can preemptively intervene to prevent a return from ever happening. For example, if a person has checked the size guide and added two of the same item in the cart in different sizes, a chatbot can intervene to help the person find the right size. This not only eliminates a customer from having to go through the hassle of returning an item, but also saves the retailer significant costs related to returns. 

5. Order management

Making small changes to an order or tracking the status of a delivery are mundane tasks that should not require a human agent. Not only is it costly to have humans perform these simple tasks, but often results in wait times and longer resolution times, and increased customer frustration. 

Discover the key questions to ask when scheduling a chatbot demo.

The 7 Best eCommerce Chatbot Solutions of All Time 

From upstarts to some of the most established brands,eCommerce companies have launched chatbots to alleviate friction at various parts of the customer experience. Here are our favorite eCommerce chatbots of all time. 

1. Hewlett-Packard

Why does Hewlett-Packard have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

The Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) leverages Netomi’s AI chatbots to eliminate a major pain point in the customer experience: running low on ink. Real-time signals from HP printers alert Netomi’s AI when a person is at risk of running dry and preemptively intervenes, sending a customer a personalized cart with compatible cartridges and providing a seamless reorder experience.  Previously, helping a customer find the right ink cartridge was one of the most costly and time consuming tickets for HP, taking on average, between 7-8 minutes. Leveraging chatbots, HP now does this proactively and instantly. 

2. Sephora

Why does Sephora have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

Well regarded for its innovation, Sephora is often recognized for new and innovative CX programs and was one of the first retailers to adopt AI-powered ecommerce chatbot solutions. One of the beauty company’s chatbots enabled customers to book a makeover with a Sephora Beauty Specialist, which had an 11% bump in conversions compared to other channels.  Another conversational AI experience from Sephora was Color Match, which allowed customers to find the best makeup shade for their skin tone and even recommend shades based on other objects like flowers or clothes. One of Sephora’s bots on kik had incredible engagement: an average 10 messages per user per day.   

3. Tommy Hilfiger

Why does Tommy Hilfiger have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

The TMY.GRL ecommerce chatbot, from the iconic Tommy Hilfger fashion house, was one of the first conversational AI experiences on Facebook Messenger. During New York Fashion Week, fans could instantly shop the same styles seen by models walking the runway, which used to not be available for weeks or months. The Messenger bot also provided a look at the behind the scenes at the fashion show getting shoppers up close and personal with models like Gigi Hadid. 

4. Harry Rosen

Why does Harry Rosen have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

Meet Haily, the innovative chatbot from Harry Rosen, a Canadian retail chain of 17 luxury men’s clothing stores. Haily scales the same high-touch, in-store experience that its customers love online. Haily helps shoppers find the status of their order, request and track returns, and track and redeem loyalty points. Haily is also a personal shopper, offering personalized product advice and answering questions related to fit, style or suitability. 

5. Zinus

Why does Zinus have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

Zinus, one of the fastest-growing mattress brands, introduced its chatbot Zuri to remove friction from the customer journey. Zuri provides instant support for the most common customer questions like: Where is my order? Can i modify my recent order? How do I apply for a warranty? Chats are seamlessly handed off to an agent within the same window if needed, providing an experience as satisfying as a Zinus mattress itself.  

6. ebay

Why does ebay have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

There are currently over 1.6 billion live listings on eBay, making it one of the biggest global marketplaces. You can literally find almost anything you’re searching for, but sometimes scrolling through pages of listings can seem daunting. That’s why eBay launched ShopBot. The virtual agent messenger bot helps shoppers find the best deals and products. Users text or snap pictures of items they are looking for (i.e. I want red Nike shoes) and the bot will ask questions to better understand what a person is looking for (sizing, budget, etc.)  in order to narrow down the options. 

7. Casper

Why does Casper have one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2021?

A few years ago, the mattress company launched a bot to engage with customers and keep them entertained when they couldn’t sleep. Named insomnobot3000, the bot is “extra chatty between 11 PM and 5 AM” and is a companion for night owls. According to Casper VP Lindsay Kaplan, “It’s kind of obsessed with pizza and is really on the fence about if it’s too late to eat or it should just wait to eat waffles in the morning.” While insomnobot3000 is not addressing a key part of the customer journey, it’s a creative example of an ecommerce chatbot. 

What are the pillars for a successful eCommerce CX automation strategy?

While there have been many successful eCommerce chatbots, some have failed to deliver. In order to implement a successful AI chatbot, eCommerce companies need to follow a few key strategies: 

  • Leverage Natural Language Understanding (NLU)
    NLU is a key component of any conversational AI. In the eCommerce context, it is used to allow customers to engage in natural and unnatural language. Chatbots that rely simply on keyword matching lead to frustrating user experiences as the bot gets confused easily. 
  • Identify common pain point
    The customer journey is filled with pain points that can be fixed withinwith in the customer journey (i.e. a person running out of ink) and repetitive tasks that can be easily automated. Start with a few key use cases and expand over time. 
  • Deploy deep reinforcement learning
    The accuracy of your chatbot on day 1, 30 and 60 should not be the same. The smartest chatbots learn and improve over time with every interaction. You’ll tweak the algorithms to ensure the bot is classifying a person’s intent correctly and also uncover new use case opportunities to automate. 
  • Give the chatbot an on-brand personality
    Keep the experience fun and engaging, but don’t clutter the interaction with unnecessary back-and-forth chatter. Get to the point quickly. Ask the necessary questions only. And keep everything on-brand. [Learn more about conversational UX design]. 
  • Launch on the channels where your customers are
    Chatbots don’t just have to live on live chat widgets on a website. Interact with your customers at scale on social media pages, messaging apps, SMS, voice platforms and even email. 

Leveraging a live chat software on a website and on social media helps eCommerce companies scale 1:1 interactions with customers, 24/7. Customers today expect effortless, convenient and highly personal shopping experiences and when they reach out for customer support, they demand instant resolutions. As the competition within the eCommerce industry continues to heat up, the companies that prioritize the customer experience will be the ones that drive sales and capture long-term customer loyalty. 

Learn more about the opportunities for eCommerce and retail chatbots with netomi’s chatbot platform.

Find out what your ROI will be if you build an AI chatbot. Try our free chatbot ROI calculator today.

How do the world’s largest travel companies deliver customer support?

Written by Can Ozdoruk  on   May 24, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our latest Customer Service Benchmark Report! In this version, we’re digging deep into how 3,000 of the world’s largest and most well-known travel and hospitality companies provide email and social support. In our most comprehensive study yet, we’re seeing how airlines, hotels and resorts, online travel agencies, cruise lines, car rental companies, rail and bus companies, and venue and event spaces stack up. 

We found that travel and hospitality brands are failing to meet the expectations of guests for effortless, quick support across their channel of choice. Surprisingly 55% of companies don’t have Twitter profiles, 38% of companies do not offer email support. Shockingly, the companies that have email addresses or enable direct messaging on Twitter often completely ignore their customers: 70% of emails and 46% of social messages are never responded to. Even if companies respond, customers are left with unanswered questions:  97% of email responses do not provide a meaningful, thorough answer, compared to 72% of responses on Twitter. 

Learn how to automatically resolve customer service inquiries at the industry’s highest rate over messaging, chat, email, and voice with our helpdesk AI solutions.

What CX Leaders are saying about the report

“Every brand knows how important customer service is to their business. Then you read stats from a report like this that indicates how companies fail at something so easy as simply responding to an email and social media posts. The opportunity to displace a competitor is there, often because the bar to deliver a quality customer experience is low,” said Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert and New York Times bestselling author.

Here’s the highlights from our Customer Service Benchmark Report – Travel and Hospitality edition: 

  1. Omnichannel is rare: Only 12% of companies offer support on both channels. Side note: learn how you can deploy a travel chatbot to improve your omnichannel customer support
  2. Email and social support is hard to find: 38% of companies don’t offer email support and 55% of companies don’t have a Twitter profile. 
  3. Customers are ignored: Nearly 70% of all emails are ignored and 46% of direct messages on social media are never responded to.
  4. Travel companies are not empathetic: Only 11% of travel and hospitality companies show empathy in email responses and 26% don’t show any empathy on social media support.
  5. Email response times are fast; social responses are even faster: Of the companies that respond, 57% of travel companies that prioritize email respond within the first 3 hours and more than 1 in 5 companies respond to direct messages within the first 15 minutes.
  6. Responses are not thorough: 97% of email responses do not provide a meaningful  answer in the initial email response and 72% of companies don’t provide a relevant response on social media.
  7. Larger companies provide faster support on social compared to email: The largest travel and hospitality companies (5,000+ employees) were the slowest responders on email, with an average response time of over 27 hours, but the quickest on Twitter, responding to social messages in 5.8 hours, on average. 
  8. The largest companies are the slowest on email: The largest travel and hospitality companies (5,000+ employees) were the slowest responders on email, with an average response time of over 27 hours. 
  9. Response times differ around the world: Travel and hospitality companies based in North America have the fastest response times on Twitter, responding, on average, in just under 13 hours, while companies in Latin America are the slowest (average 27 hours). 
  10. Personalization is lacking: 28% of companies did not respond to a customer by their first name in email responses or on social media.

Email Support Benchmarks: How do the world’s biggest travel and hospitality companies provide email customer service?

The average Email Support Performance Index (Email-SPI), which looks holistically at the response including personalization, empathy, relevance, CSAT survey and response time, was 52.7 out of a possible 100 points. When we look at the largest 25 travel companies in the world, the best performers on the Email-SPI were United Airlines (US, 65.58); Marriott International (US, 61.24), (US, 58.92), and Intercontinental Hotels Group (US, 57.83). 

Travel brands recognize the importance of quick responses:  32% respond to emails within the first hour; 57% respond within the first three hours; and nearly 85% respond within the first 24 hours. The fastest responders (2 minutes) were: Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences (Austria), Flughafen Wien – Vienna Airport (Austria) and Johnson’s Beach & Resort (United States). Interestingly, the largest travel and hospitality companies (5,000+ employees) were the slowest responders on email, with an average response time of over 27 hours. 

Here are the average email response times by industry: 

  • Ground Transportation companies (trains, busses, car rentals): 9.20 hrs 
  • Venues and event spaces: 9.64 hrs 
  • Hotels and resorts: 12.43 hours 
  • Travel agencies: 12.53 hrs 
  • Airlines – 16.36 hrs 
  • Cruise lines: 23.16 hrs 

In the email to travel and hospitality companies in our study, the customer referenced concerns about booking a reservation due to uncertainties around COVID-19. Of the companies that responded to emails, only 11% showed empathy by acknowledging a customer’s concern over COVID-19’s potential impact on their travel plans. The most empathetic companies are Trident Hotels, Sleeping Bear Bed Breakfast, Longwood Gardens, ITC Hotels and AERO. 

Social Support Benchmarks: How do the world’s biggest travel and hospitality companies provide customer service on Twitter?

The average Social Support Performance Index (SPI), which measures a response by personalization, empathy, relevance, if there is an automated message acknowledging a message, and resolution time, is 50.88 (out of 100). The companies that provide the best overall support on social media are: Spirit Airlines (Airline, US) and Almosafer (Online Travel Agency, Saudia Arabia). 

Shockingly, 27% of the world’s largest 25 travel and hospitality brands fail to ever acknowledge a customer’s message on Twitter. The best performers on the Social SPI include American Airlines (69.5), Lufthansa (69.17), Air India (68.83), Southwest Airlines (67.17), Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (67.17), Emirates Airline (66.28) and Hilton (65.61).  

Travel and hospitality companies are responding quickly to direct messages on Twitter, with 22% responding within the first 15 minutes, 36% within the first hour, and a whopping 66% within the first six hours. The fastest respondents on Twitter got back to customers within one minute —  Address Hotels + Resorts (UAE), Network Rail (UK), Ryanair (Ireland), SpiceJet (India), and Royal Caribbean Cruises (US). 

The companies with the most employees (5,000+)  are the quickest, responding to social messages in 5.8 hours, on average. Mid-size companies, on the contrary, are 4.3X slower to respond, with an average response time of nearly 25 hours. 

Here are the average social response times by industry: 

  • Airlines – 8.52 hrs 
  • Ground transportation companies (traines, busses, car rentals): 9.93 hrs 
  • Cruise lines: 12.87  hrs
  • Hotels and resorts: 19.82 hours 
  • Travel agencies: 21.62 hrs 
  • Venues and event spaces: 77.61 hrs 

Travel companies need to prioritize omnichannel customer support 

“Customers no longer compare brands to direct competitors; they compare against the best service they receive from any brand, whether it’s another company in the travel industry, their favorite restaurant down the street, or  Amazon. Customers’ expectations are higher than ever. Travel and hospitality companies must manage every interaction for the greatest outcome and pay attention to easy opportunities to impress customers,” continued Hyken. 

In an industry where airplane / train / bus seats, hotel rooms or cabins, and rental cars are remarkably similar, travel brands increasingly compete on the customer experience they provide.  In our study we found that overall, the customer service provided by the world’s largest travel and hospitality companies fails to meet the expectations of the modern customer. 

Download our full Customer Service Benchmark Report – Travel and Hospitality for the complete results!

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