As difficult as it’s been for retailers to pivot to online-only sales and limited fulfillment options, they may face an equally steep challenge once state and local regulations allow for store operations to resume.
Given the uncertainty and conflicting information surrounding health risks and the dent in the economy the pandemic has caused, consumer spending may not rebound instantly, even after stores open their doors again.
To re-engage shoppers and convince them to buy, retailers will need to promote enticing offers — and if they hope to recoup losses rather than erode revenues further, they’ll need promotions other than steep discounts and free shipping. It’s crucial that automated customer support mechanisms go beyond just Live Chat as well as expanding beyond communicating post-purchase order fulfillment information to include proactive pre-purchase interactions.
Among the potential ways conversational AI channels can stimulate new buying:
Promotion of location-relevant store sales and events.
Based on geolocation data, chatbots, automated live chat, and webchat can proactively encourage store visitation and signups for scheduled events and provide support for pickup services by appointment. A new report by RSR Research found that 63% of retailers leading the charge in store pickup services prioritize automation as the best way to overcome logistical hurdles surrounding store pickup — hurdles that will doubtless multiply as stores adjust offerings to conform to local health regulations and social distancing requirements.
During the pandemic, many retail brands have suspended returns, with the intention to restart the clock once stores reopen — leading to predictions of a coming surge as shoppers rid themselves of the pent-up rejects ordered during the shutdown. Automated self-service access to return shipping labels and forms can reduce the perceived inconvenience of online returns, which consumers currently tend to avoid in favor of bringing items back to stores by a margin of 2 to 1, eMarketer found. Savvy retailers recognize that customers returning items are potentially valuable — and indeed, 73% of consumers say the returns experience determines whether they’ll give brands another try, according to UPS.
Provide tailored picks using AI-driven recommendations.
Nine in 10 consumers say they’re more likely to shop with brands that recognize and remember them, according to Accenture. Chatbots can proactively suggest products based on past browsing and purchasing, issue reminders about abandoned carts, and otherwise present a curated assortment of items that persuade shoppers emerging from lockdown orders to re-engage with brands and make deferred purchases.
If you are interested in learning more about CX Automation and specifically, how you can quickly implement an easy to use conversational AI experience as part of your CX strategy, tailored to your brand, please visit our website to learn more.