Coronavirus. Pandemic. Lockdown. These three words have changed the world as we know it. The Covid-19 pandemic has created havoc in our happy little world. Our health system has broken down and with the lockdowns imposed across the globe, the world economy has crashed. But in all this, e-commerce gained from customer support automation.
We are witnessing one of those defining moments that’ll have a lasting impact on the next decade. E-commerce is one of the industries that is faring well in this lockdown. We’re heading towards a new world with a digital-first engagement.
Change in consumer behaviour
Human behaviour has changed drastically in the last few months. What used to be a normal activity, like buying essentials from the grocery store down the lane, is no longer safe. The new normal mandates one to stay indoors and maintain social distancing while venturing out.
In the wake of new laws, brick and mortar shops are forced to pull their shutters down. To add to this, the demand is more than the supply, causing panic buying. People are left with no choice but to move to online shopping.
E-commerce was already a booming industry, thanks to the digital natives. The onset of coronavirus pandemic has compelled the Baby Boomers to go online too. The lockdown has become a catalyst for the widespread adoption of technology.
Impact on e-commerce businesses
In March, digital revenue spiked 41% and digital spending on essential goods spiralled upwards by an incredible 200%. Brick-and-mortar retailers saw online orders shoot up to almost 90% YOY between March 29 and April 12.
With the looming economic crisis, companies are also prioritizing cost management and looking to cut down costs. To get through this tough time, many companies are letting go of people and cutting salaries. In all this chaos, call centre calls have gone up, overburdening the staff and creating a backlog.
Companies are looking at both temporary and long-term solutions to boost capacity. It has become the need of the hour. But being online alone is not enough. There are thousands of companies with a website and an app and are still not doing well. People want a personal experience when they shop online. Thus, to stand out, your e-commerce company needs to go where the customer is and make it easy for them to buy from you.
E-Commerce gains from customer support automation
Customer support automation utilizes conversational AI in the form of virtual assistants to automate communication and create human-like, personalized customer experiences at scale.
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Earlier, e-commerce lacked person-to-person interaction. Now, conversational AI is bridging this gap. Increasing number of companies prefer chatbots to be the first point of contact for customers.
Smart chatbots can answer repeated simple questions, letting humans focus on bigger and complicated issues. This is why, the global chatbot market size is expected to reach USD 9.4 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 29.7% during the forecast period.
Another aspect that stood out the most in the Covid-19 world is the use of social media for e-commerce. Channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram are used to reach directly to the customer where they’ve been spending most of their time. E-commerce companies have seen success in not only sales but also support and marketing through these channels.
According to a survey, approximately 30% of MSMEs started a business website or enabled e-commerce functionality since the lockdown started. More than 50% of MSMEs surveyed embraced video conferencing tools and WhatsApp to keep business running during these turbulent times.
With customer support automation, an e-commerce company can tackle most challenges caused by this pandemic. (We’ve also written about how chatbots can help Insurance or Real Estate industries during the Covid-19 pandemic.) Let’s dive in to see how e-commerce can gain from customer support automation.
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Support your staff while they support your customers
Customers today expect instant gratification. They want their questions answered immediately. There is an influx of support calls and with an overburdened staff, queries are not resolved on time.
As per stats, 80% of customer queries are from the FAQs. By deploying a chatbot and automating your repeated questions, you can support your staff. By doing so, the staff is more productive as it saves them time and lets them focus on complicated queries.
What’s more? A chatbot is available 24×7, even while your staff is on a break or asleep. That’s why 63% of the people prefer messaging an online bot to communicate with a business or brand.
If you want to know how a chatbot can be effective, here’s an example. Pre-chatbot, Nykaa customer service executives spent over 32,000 staff hours a month answering and replying to support queries. Post-chatbot, they were able to engage 99.7% of all their customers in under 1 minute.
Recommend personalized items while your customers’ shop
To stay ahead of the competition, you need to make your customer the centre of your conversation and make them feel special. A chatbot can ask a set of predefined questions and based on their response, it can pull in details from the database to make suitable suggestions.
By keeping them engaged and showing appropriate results, customer satisfaction soars. This process also saves them time as now they don’t have to browse through all your offerings or manually set filters. A better experience leads to a happy customer.
H&M is a great example of this type of engagement. They optimized their customer’s shopping experience by allowing users to use the chatbot and tell it about the item they wish to buy. The chatbot will take a simple quiz to understand the user’s preference and accordingly suggest options.
Always keep your customers in the know
Chatbots can proactively keep your customers informed about the order and refund status. By integrating your CRM with WhatsApp, Email or SMS, you can improve the customer’s post-purchase experience.
Reduce the need for people to contact you. This little exercise builds trust and also brand loyalty. The likelihood for the customer to return to your website increases.
Look at MakeMyTrip for example. On booking tickets through them, they send invoice and ticket details via WhatsApp. When needed, their users can fish out details with ease, creating a high CSAT.
Reach your customers on platforms they use the most
India saw an 87% increase in social media usage in its first week of lockdown. On average, people were spending 4 hours a day on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp as compared to just 2.5 hours the week before.
By integrating WhatsApp with the sales data, you can optimize offerings in a variety of ways. The parameters can be region, gender, age, and time of the day. Many brick and mortar stores have moved online through WhatsApp chatbots. By letting people shop on WhatsApp, retailers can follow the rules of social distancing.
The retail giant Spencer’s and Britannia are some of the companies that launched a WhatsApp bot during the coronavirus pandemic. Customers can place their grocery orders through an interactive chat window and find the nearest store to pick up their orders.
Don’t let your customers abandon their shopping cart
The average global shopping cart abandonment rate for online e-commerce is 69.57%. In the weeks since Covid-19, this rate has increased for non-essential items.
A conversational chatbot can provide a better experience by guiding your customer through the buying process and answering their questions regarding a product. Even if the customer has left your website/app, you can send them reminders on their email, mobile or WhatsApp. Knowing that 90% of mobile users open messages within 3 mins of receiving it, you can boost your sales.
Dominos, for example, applies a chatbot to make the ordering process run smoothly between customers and restaurants. The customers get a great experience by not having to download an extra app or dial the restaurant.
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Generate leads while you help your customers
While the e-commerce industry has seen an overall increase in sales during the pandemic, companies selling non-essential items have not been so lucky. Two main factors impacting this are government laws prohibiting the sale of non-essential items and the downturn of the global economy.
By sharing interactive and helpful content, you can keep your customers informed. Chatbots can increase your online presence. You can engage and re-engage with them on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram. With these interactions, the chatbots can automatically capture leads and help in future sales.
One great example of lead generation through a chatbot is Kia. Kian is Kia Motor’s Facebook Messenger and chatbot. In the four months since its launch in 2017, Kia had seen three times more conversions through Kian than through its main website.
Suggested Reading: Customer Support Automation: Benefits and Results
Future of e-commerce and customer support automation
Evolution is the survival of the fittest. And fit e-commerce companies are adopting conversational chatbots for customer support automation.
Six out of ten consumers said they will continue shopping online, even after the pandemic ends. Once people get comfortable with this, there is no going back.
To ensure a smooth experience for all customers, companies are looking for ways to automate customer support. A Deloitte study reported that 2/3rds of US IT will increase investments in automation technology because of Covid-19.
The time and money saved by both companies and consumers are too high to ignore.
AI is developing. Over the next few years, this technology will only improve and make the experience more human-like. And with a higher percentage of digital natives, we’ll see more people opting for conversational chatbots. E-commerce can gain big from customer support automation.
If you are looking to know more about how your e-commerce business can deploy a chatbot, read our post on ‘The Ultimate Guide: E-commerce Chatbots‘. And if WhatsApp is on your mind, we’ve got you covered with WhatsApp Chatbot for E-commerce with 11 Use-Cases.