BotcommerceNov. 15, 2016
“It’s the beginning of the end of sitting on hold, the beginning of the end of 'Press one for this press to two for that,' the beginning of the end of 'This call may be recorded for quality purposes,'" Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad and bot messaging startup, Assist, told RetailDive.
Yet customer service is just the beginning of uses for bots in ecommerce.
The Lead Up to Bots
Two trends coinciding enable this emergence of bot technology and its improved ROI – the growing popularity of mobile messaging apps over standard apps and advances in artificial intelligence. These bots are powered by a combination of machine learning and natural language processing combined with live operators. This use in ecommerce and other venues is referred to as ‘conversational commerce’ by Chris Messina of Uber.
Other emerging key trends:
- Rise of sensors, wearables, the quantified self-movement and data science advances bringing personalization and predictive assistance capabilities.
- Integration of seamless payment technology into technology and accessible 3rd party solutions through API’s.
- Increased sophistication of context aware notifications across devices creating an always-on, intelligent interface layer.
A Wired publication predicts the rise of bots within the equation for the new Web 3.0 = the sum of content, commerce, community and context with personalization and vertical search or Web 3.0 = (4C+P+VS). As artificial intelligence and bots improve through sophisticated algorithms, their ability to personalize content and context, accurately, increases.
“With Web 3.0 the Internet will be his personal shopper. Aided with ubiquitous, mobile presence, these digital shoppers will anticipate all his needs, all of each of our needs.” Increased personalization and anticipation, coupled with added lifelikeness of bots, will vastly improve this ‘conversational commerce’ and its adoption as mainstream.
The Inaudible Trend
According to a recent Mary Meeker report, only 12% of Millenials and 29% of Gen Xers prefer customer service by phone. They do not want to engage in conversation, they want to chat. Chat and messaging have become more popular than ever. "Messaging is going to be the interface—or the anti-interface—of the next phase of the internet," Robin Chan, CEO of Operator, told The Verge.
Nobody Will Download Your App!?
As Jason Goldberg, commerce and content strategy lead at Razorfish, put it, “All these brands have written apps, and no one uses those apps. “The bots don’t require any installation, so a lot of people, myself included, feel the bot is the new app. And unlike the apps, the bots all run on these open platforms," meaning developers can design bots that can be used on Google, Facebook or any messaging service with a "bot store."
These major players are investing heavily into chat bots and putting them into use for ecommerce. Facebook opened their messenger for bots in early 2016; and already companies have been creating ecommerce experiences are proven effective. Through connection to the messenger API, companies can create bots entirely independent of Facebook or its messenger code.
This botcommerce trend has seen other major investments, including Shopify’s recent purchase of Kit, an AI messenger app.
WeChat of China has taken the bot idea to new levels, enabling all sorts of ecommerce applications. One can order food deliveries, buy movie tickets, order custom Nike’s, shop at Burberry, book doctor’s appointments, and pay your water bill.
We can also recognize these bots in other common apps we are currently using. Siri, Cortana, and Google answer our questions and demands, although the trend is now veering towards text rather than voice based bots. Slackbot from Slack greets most of us by text daily. Slack and its tools have grown much more powerful through bot intelligence, doubling its user base in the second half of 2015.
Pay The Bot
Ecommerce, in its essence, needs a transaction. Incorporating payments into bots and allowing payments directly through them makes botcommerce possible. Strong API connections to 3rd party payments allow customers to purchase from retailers or brands, directly through chat and social media bots.
Personalization will get more personal and interactions with bots will get more real. ‘Bots are “invited” into a conversion, not downloaded. It’s more like real life. Everything is personalized, as you ordered it to be, so intrusive notifications are non-existent.’ As the bot ‘gets to know you’, its suggestions and interactions become more accurate and predictive. The more accurate it is, the more it is used. Eventually these bots will be in everything, facilitating every task.
Through strong API points and system integrations, we are able to connect our platform to any existing or created bot. Bots made using Facebook’s bot engine or any other 3rd party tool can be attached to your storefront This allows you to take advantage of their AI, machine learning, and personalization power.
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