Enhancing Retail Experiences with Conversational AI

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3 minute read

With advanced AI technologies, retailers can deliver extraordinary customer experiences wherever shoppers need them.

The volume of in-store shoppers continues to fall short of pre-pandemic levels, even though most stores are now operating at full capacity. Some shoppers are still cautious about person-to-person services and shopping in-store, and others have realized they prefer online shopping as their go-to retail channel.

However, this doesn’t spell the end for brick-and-mortar stores. Many shoppers, especially younger buyers, enjoy the omnichannel shopping experience. According to McKinsey, “most Gen Z consumers don’t even think in terms of traditional channel boundaries... they increasingly evaluate brands and retailers on the seamlessness of their experience.”

Retailers that enhanced customer experiences with Conversational AI during the pandemic are well-equipped to succeed as the new retail world continues to take shape. Those that have yet to do so still have time if they take the leap into AI now, and they should: It is expected that retail will soon overtake banking in AI spending.

To avoid falling behind competitors, retail companies will need to rethink customer experiences to ensure they meet buyers’ needs wherever and whenever they want to shop.

Delivering Instant Support for Online Shoppers

Conversational AI agents can be deployed to help customers find items they are looking for faster than ever before and offer suggestions based on their specific needs. For example, if a shopper visits a computer manufacturer’s online store with certain requirements – such as a 15-inch laptop with a USB-3 port that is also compatible with a docking station purchased from a different vendor — they could interact directly with a Conversational AI agent to find it.

Since Conversational AI orchestrates with back-end systems, the agent would be able to instantly suggest every suitable laptop for the buyer’s needs. If the buyer then said they want a USB-C port instead of USB-3, the Conversational AI agent would understand the change and offer new recommendations on the fly. After making a decision, the buyer could then ask the digital agent to place an order for in-store pickup at the nearest location.

Interactions such as the above example would be nearly impossible for basic FAQ chatbots, which many retailers deployed as stop-gap customer service solutions during the height of the pandemic. However, Conversational AI agents like Amelia can complete this complex task with ease and at scale. By deploying a Conversational AI agent, retailers can provide every online customer with the same quality of human-like, personalized support that they would receive from human employees during in-store interactions.

Plus, Conversational AI agents also help to relieve overwhelmed contact center agents from high volumes of repetitive requests. They can handle queries regarding returns, order status updates, payment processing and store locations, helping retailers to eliminate contact center hold times and enabling a more positive, frictionless customer experience.

Providing In-Person Shoppers with Personalized Support

Nowadays, when buyers shop in-store, they want “an engaging, personalized experience,” according to Retail Insider. By deploying Conversational AI to handle more repetitive store-based tasks, retailers can create high-quality, personalized experiences for in-person shoppers as well.

Conversational AI agents can be deployed to manage incoming calls to store locations, relieving retail employees from the time-consuming task of answering questions about store hours, directions and inventory. For example, a leading eye care company hired Amelia to handle all incoming calls for a majority of their retail locations. Now, Amelia handles approx. 30,000 incoming calls every day for the company, enabling associates to focus solely on delivering high-quality service to in-store customers.

Retailers can further enhance their employee and customer experience by empowering their staff with Conversational AI whisper agents through tablets or phones. Acting as retail sidekicks, Conversational AI agents can help employees locate specific items or offer personalized suggestions for customers, which is especially beneficial for larger stores with extensive inventories.

Conversational AI connects the disparate systems within a retail environment to a single, user-friendly interface, helping to deliver seamless, personalized customer experiences regardless of whether buyers shop in-store, online or a combination of both. As executives plan for the new world of retail, Conversational AI-enabled omnichannel shopping experiences should be a top strategic priority, if they want to delight and retain their customers.

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