Conversational AI in Retail: The Future of Retail

The world of shopping has come a long way since the early 2000s. Gone are the days of keeping track of shopping lists and traveling to individual stores looking for the best deals. We no longer have to wait days and days for packages without knowing where they are. And if a customer needs support, they can usually access it instantly, making things easy for both the customer and the support rep.

Today, the majority of retail shopping can be done online, and the world of online shopping only gets bigger every single year. According to Statista, experts estimate that online retail sales will grow to $5.4 trillion this year and next, meaning there are millions of people shopping online and plenty of room to improve their experience.  

And many people are buying into this need for constant digital transformation and adoption. 90% of retail business leaders have indicated that their employees are ready and prepared for AI adoption, up 47% within the past two years. That’s not to say that people aren’t hesitant—if we know anything it’s that people and businesses are afraid of change and of new technology.

So, to quell some fears over the future of retail and the role conversational AI can play to boost customer satisfaction and agent experience , let’s talk about why conversational AI is important for retail and review the top ways artificial intelligence is changing the retail industry. 

Why Is Conversational AI Important For Retail?

AI is crucial to making customer support interactions worthwhile for both customers and support representatives. Plus, AI within retail will only continue to grow. According to Juniper research, retail sales from chatbot and AI communication will double every year starting next year. 

Conversational AI for retail businesses can help streamline processes, remove redundant and repetitive work, and allow both support agents and customers to get their needs met much faster. 

There are millions of online retail experiences happening every single day, from people ordering items, making returns, tracking packages, reporting things as stolen, or trying to get information regarding a recent purchase. All these experiences and interactions could go a lot smoother with the help of technology that can provide those improvements. 

How Do Companies Leverage Conversational AI in Retail?

There are multiple ways companies can leverage conversational AI in retail, many of which include automating a process or interaction in order to provide cost savings for the people on their buyer’s journey. Automating processes and interactions for customers also ends up benefiting your agents, the people responsible for facilitating those interactions. 

Here are a few ways businesses are leveraging artificial intelligence in retail. 

24/7 Support

In this digital world we live in, geography and location matter to no one. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the UK or in Hawaii, it doesn’t matter if it’s 10 in the morning or 11 pm, people are shopping and seeking customer support at all hours of the day and from all parts of the world. 

What retail businesses now require is 24/7 deployed teams, or the semblance of one. If you can’t actively have people managing support tasks throughout the night, then it’s best for an organization to adopt conversational AI to help deflect any tickets that could possibly be sent in after normal support hours. 

A chatbot powered by conversational AI can perform around the clock and help manage self service interactions that support reps wouldn’t be able to get to. Conversational AI chatbots for retail businesses enable smooth conversations, are easier to maintain than traditional chatbots, require less lift to implement, and continuously learn from the data they collect from customers, agents, and employees. 

Automate Redundant Tasks

What AI does best is task automation. Whether a customer wants to know where their item is and track a package or they’re wondering how to initiate a refund, there’s a way to automate redundant tasks so agents can worry less about the hundreds of same exact tasks coming in, and focus on the growing list of customer demands that can’t be automated. 

Did you know that agents do up to 3 hours of tasks everyday that could easily be automated? 

Give your team some quick wins by utilizing a conversational AI chatbot that can quickly start deflecting redundancies such as ticket labeling and routing and easily answered FAQs. Ticket routing can cause real bottlenecks for support teams who are still manually performing this task.ith AI you can use past data to train an AI model and teach it to label and route your customers’ inquiries based on how you’ve historically done it. 

Save Money & Time

Everything that AI can do for retail businesses is summed up pretty easily. Conversational AI is important because at the end of the day it saves millions of dollars a year and thousands of human hours. It has been estimated that chatbots help businesses save more than $11 billion per year on top of saving mid-size companies the cost of agent interactions that could be used elsewhere. 

When support teams feel empowered to do their jobs and better serve customers with the tools they’ve been provided, you end up with highly satisfied customers going through an excellent customer experience as well as happy support agents who know they’re supported in their day-to-day. 

Collect Data For Better Decision Making

Intelligent chatbots powered by conversational AI do more for businesses than just producing satisfied customers; the biggest reason to use AI is to improve your company’s data collection efforts. Data is king when it comes to AI, so the more you have the more information the AI has to learn from. 

When you collect data and have a form of technology, analyzing it and helping you gain insight into what customers are coming to you for, where information is lacking, and how your business is performing in the eyes of your customers, you can use AI for better informed decision making. With improved customer insight, you’ll have better information at your disposal to determine how to strategically pivot whenever needed and conversational AI can help support the process. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Conversational AI in Retail

How is AI Used In Retail Stores?

AI has a variety of use cases for retail stores. It helps the customer, the agent, and the store as a whole.

Customers can use AI to manage orders, purchase items, find support, and get support if they can’t figure things out on their own.

Agents in the retail industry benefit from AI by having a tool in place that removes redundancies and bottlenecks. AI can help agents reduce handle times, increase cases closed, and improve how they do their jobs. 

AI can also help brands improve demand forecasting, make pricing decisions, and optimize product placement by providing them with better data collection methods. 

How Are Chatbots Used In Retail?

Within the retail industry chatbots powered by conversational AI are being used to deflect commonly asked questions and help agents in responding to the more complex issues they see come in. 

Chatbots can remove repetitive work, empower agents, and help businesses gain further insight into their customers. 

How is AI Transforming the Retail Industry?

Happy and highly satisfied employees will lead to having happy and highly satisfied customers. When you wow and amaze your customers with consistency in your customer experience, they’ll come back to you time and time again. 

AI is transforming the retail industry by assisting  every aspect of business. It is providing personalized online experiences, helping brick-and-mortar stores do more, and empowering business owners to grow and scale their operations, all while improving both the agent and customer experience. 

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