How Online Brands and Retailers Can Drive Sales With a Virtual Personal Assistant

A guest article by Mmuze, an artificial Intelligence conversational commerce company, offering a virtual shopping assistant powered by its underlying AI technology. Mmuze automatically turns the store’s live product catalog into a smart personal salesperson guiding the shoppers to discover the best-suited products available, providing stellar 24/7 service.

It’s a fact: we rely on artificial intelligence to organize and manage our lives. Siri not only tells us the weather forecast but also finds the best restaurant that serves gluten-free and vegan options any time we need “her” to. We wear smart watches that connect to our smartphones to keep us on time for meetings and informed on, well, everything. We receive automatic news updates delivered straight to our wrists and our hips. Our smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become extensions of our physical selves. It seems we cannot live without them.

The next natural step in the evolution of technology integrated into our lives is to use these advancements to improve our shopping experiences. So many of us shop online and end up having an uninspired experience. Today, many shoppers are driven by a need to validate their choices; they want feedback and wish to hear other people’s opinions on their purchases. They are not only amenable to expert advice, they crave it. Surprisingly, this is exactly what is missing from the online shopping journey.

Market findings tell us that consumers want a relationship with brands and retailers, one that is conversational, personalized and contextual. Shoppers want an experience that fits seamlessly into their everyday lives. Like talking to Siri or having a conversation with a friend or personal assistant, they want input before they make a buying decision. They want expert advice before committing to a purchase.

And here come chatbots. Chatbots are virtual, interactive personal shopping assistants, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Chatbots allow consumers to interact around the clock, online, from wherever they are with brands and retailers. Chatbots deliver meaningful experiences for consumers and smooth their path along the buying journey. Chatbots help improve customer satisfaction, sales conversion rates, and influence what people buy. And, people love them! A recent report suggests that shoppers want to see more business adopting chatbots.

These new virtual shopping assistants change the form of communication between the retailer and the consumer. Consumer trust in chatbots will continue to rise as retailers invest in top-notch solutions to ensure a great experience. In order to deliver a great experience, retailers need to focus on developing smart and engaging virtual shopping assistants. To do this, they should:

  1. Have the domain knowledge required to understand shopping intent and be able to match that to their products’ catalog.
  2. Quickly spot and react to the latest trends. This will allow retailers to better engage with younger consumers, who gain influence among peers by sharing their knowledge of and access to the latest trends.
  3. Provide a personalized service through ongoing conversations. Consumers want their individual profiles rather than broader demographic characteristics or generalized categorizations to drive their specific interactions with retailers.
  4. Recognize that there are still situations in which customers need to talk to humans, and make that transition as seamless as possible.

Many retail businesses quickly launch AI-powered shopping assistants with the goal of increasing online engagement and revenues — Gartner predicts that by 2020 85% of customer relationships with businesses will be conducted without any human interaction.

The quickest and most common way to do this is to base the solution on a generic horizontal framework. While it may be quick, those frameworks cannot deliver the real conversational, interactive experience that is needed. Retailers should instead invest in the domain knowledge required to understand shopping intent and be able to match that to their business catalog, being aware of trends, providing a truly personalized experience, and when needed passing the conversation to live assistants.

Mmuze addresses these challenges. It’s an online solution for businesses that want a better virtual assistant experience. It automatically turns product catalogs into smart virtual shopping assistants.

Chatbots are coming. Consumers are ready to engage with brands and retailers via new channels. Fortunately, technology can match consumers’ expectations delivering a personalized, two-way conversation in real time, anytime, and at scale.

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