The COVID-19 pandemic has forever altered the retail landscape. Despite a rough few months, a retail rebound is starting to take place — we have already seen a 7.2% growth rate this year.
Over the past 12 months, 75% of U.S. consumers have moved to the digital space. Digital retail is likely to become a much larger part of retail overall; in response, retail businesses need to strengthen their digital presence and accelerate their digital transformation initiatives to give customers the seamless, delightful online experiences they expect.
Complex, decentralized enterprises, including large retail chains, need to be able to handle a vast and demanding customer base that constantly peppers them with a wide range of inquiries, support requests and more. But in the scramble to become digitally enabled, how can retailers ensure they resolve customer issues quickly and effectively, at scale?
The answer: conversational AI through dynamic AI agents.
Retail Customers Still Want Conversations From Brands
Not long ago, 74% of in-store interactions between customers and retail brands were face-to-face conversations. These interactions were pivotal in helping customers make actual purchase decisions.
This remains true today, even as the majority of retail customers do their shopping online. A large majority (68%) of consumers reported that they’re likely to do business with a brand that provides convenient communications.
But in an economic situation where both retailers and customers now meet and interact online most of the time, how can both parties compensate for the lack of the face-to-face element that’s definitive of in-store conversations?
This is where conversational AI comes in. Conversational AI enables retailers the chance to connect with customers at every stage of their journey via their preferred platforms or channels and in their language.
Conversational AI: Bad Tech No More
Conversations are critical to providing customers with a positive experience. Engaging customers in meaningful conversations shows that a brand cares for them, and builds customer trust. This is crucial as 68% of customers abandon a brand if they think it doesn’t care about them or their needs.
Consistency is also key. According to Forbes, 71% of consumers desire consistent experience across disparate channels. Conversational AI makes it possible for retailers to provide omnichannel support to their customers, giving them a smooth and frictionless purchase journey.
AI technology has progressed significantly, and it is now in a place where it can handle conversations. More importantly, dynamic AI agents can engage customers in a humanlike manner, providing them with moments of trust 24/7, in any language on any channel.
Working seamlessly with human customer support teams, conversational AI agents have the potential to elevate the overall experience for retail customers. Intelligent bots gather crucial information, analyze intent and generate recommendations to human agents before hand-off — handing off only when necessary. Thus, AI agents streamline the whole process, accelerate time to resolution and significantly improve conversion rates.
Real-World Impact: The Heads Up For Tails Story
Heads Up For Tails (HUFT) is one of the largest pet retail chains in India, operating in 30 different locations. Apart from the usual pet food, accessories, collars and apparel, HUFT also specializes in spa services for pets.
Store closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to HUFT’s significant drop in sales. The pet retail enterprise concentrated its efforts on its Shopify online pet store. Still, despite having a large customer base and up to 3,000 categories in its Shopify inventory, HUFT’s revenues remained low.
Customers visit the HUFT Shopify store but they rarely convert. They needed help to facilitate the customers’ journey from start to finish and improve conversion. Turning to Yellow.ai, HUFT management hoped that conversational AI would be the answer to their retail woes.
After assessing HUFT’s business and needs, yellow.ai created Poppins, HUFT’s custom intelligent virtual assistant. Built with new-generation AI, machine learning (ML) and proprietary natural language processing (NLP) technologies, Poppins was not only capable of answering simple queries, but could also recognize and interpret the subtle nuances of human conversation.
Thus, Poppins helped HUFT recreate that distinctive in-store experience their customers were accustomed to back when HUFT was still a brick-and-mortar establishment. This capability enabled Poppins to transform any interaction into a highly engaging two-way conversation with the customers, creating moments of trust.
Poppins constantly learns after every interaction, allowing it to fully understand HUFT customers, know their expectations and preferences, and provide them with relevant, personalized recommendations. Not only does this speed up the response time and improve the resolution rate, but it also improves the overall experience for HUFT’s customers.
Within two weeks after deployment, Poppins brought in more than $225K in revenue. In just a few weeks, Poppins facilitated more than 38K support requests and questions.
Maximizing The Bottom Line
Despite the convenience of no lines, no crowds and no store hours to deal with, 70% of online shoppers still abandon their carts prior to checkout.
With yellow.ai’s Dynamic AI Agents, retailers like HUFT can now deliver that distinctive in-store experience through chat, text, messaging apps and mobile communication channels. This is the power of conversational AI.
As the technology becomes more prevalent in the retail industry, businesses can expect cart abandonment rates to drop significantly, close more potential leads and generate more sales. Online retail stores that successfully implemented conversational AI have seen their revenue increase by 7% to 25%.
A recent study predicts that by 2025, conversational AI will have processed $145 billion in sales.
Positive Experiences Key to Online Retail Success
Now that online retail shopping is a permanent reality for modern consumers, retailers must realize that the digital experiences they deliver have to be equally essential as in-store experiences.
This means customers must be able to engage in a two-way conversation with the brand representatives. But given that it’s impossible for retailers to effectively engage customers in a 1-to-1 fashion through human agents at scale, it’s high time for retail brands to invest in technologies that enable humans and AI to work together, as a team.
Consumers are conversational creatures, and by implementing a conversational AI solution, brands have an opportunity to capitalize on every conversation, from increasing engagement to driving sales and growth.
It’s high time to augment your customers’ retail experiences with conversational AI. With our dynamic AI agents, we can make that happen. Request a demo to learn more.