Customer Experience, Retail

Dear Retailers, We Need to Talk


3 Ways to Win Over This Summer’s Shoppers with Chatbots

By Aleisha McKeeby, Solutions Marketing Manager

While the first day of summer doesn’t officially begin until late June, it is in full swing here in Florida, with temperatures in the low nineties, sunshine, and the typical afternoon showers. It seems no matter where you live, summer offers a short window to pack in more activities than what's possible – vacations, days at the pool, sporting events, reuniting with friends and family … the list is endless. Enter also the amount of endless consumer purchases to support these activities—evidenced by the plethora of sales, promotional offers, and discounts from retailers hoping to capture this business.  

Yet amidst all this activity, the right approach to connect with buyers in a meaningful way and personalize their shopping experience is missing, though paramount for retailers to effectively break through the noise and competing forces. This summer, I would like to see retailers engage with me in a more effective, conversational, even personalized way and not waste my time with things of no use to me.  As a shopper, here’s what will entice me to make time to drive to your store, purchase your products, subscribe to your loyalty programs, visit your website, and keep your brand top of mind.

#1 - You have my data, use it.

The amount of buyer profile data that’s collected these days is enormous, and eye-opening at times to see how easy it is to collect. My buying information is no longer just mine.

Dear “Big-Box” Retailer, I know you have my data in your CRM system, so why are you not in turn using this data to make my shopping experience a better one? Yes, I am a millennial. Yes, I value good service and shop online before I think to visit your store. If you’re going to collect my data, use it to show you really know me and engage with me in a purposeful way.

Forbes contributor Walter Loeb highlights the importance of communication with millennials by stating, “They are “real-time” consumers, shopping for today’s needs and waiting until the last minute to shop for tomorrow’s events.”

Imagine what a conversational engagement might look like if you used that data in your outreach with conversational, AI-rich chatbot technology.

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#2 - Don’t send me offers in the mail, I recycle anything that doesn’t look like a bill.

My pet peeve -- checking the mail only to find irrelevant offers for products I don’t need or want. While I’m all about saving money and getting a great deal, I’m more inclined to actually capitalize on offers if they are dropped in my lap the moment I am considering a purchase. Retailers fortunately have the tools to do this via beacon technology, and push notifications from their mobile apps to catch my attention. Do this, and I’ll respond and likely consider your store and even buy something when it potentially never entered my mind in the first place.

Window shopping could take on a whole new meaning if retailers promoted summer sales - “right place, right time.” Depending on a consumer's preferred channel of communication, a chatbot can text, email, send a Facebook message, or reach out in a number of different ways to alert consumers of information that is specifically relevant to their purchasing habits.

#3 - It’s the busy summer season, make the offer make sense…for me.

Like most people, I’m busy. I work full time (and then some), have my hands full with personal, family and community obligations, and juggling all the details of maintaining a home – all incurring a significant amount of purchases to keep things running smoothly. As a consumer, I have no shortage of options these days for making these purchases, whether popping in to the local store down the street or easily opting for online.  

Retailers should recognize I, like their other customers, am driven by balancing convenience with instant gratification, and use the readily available information they have to connect with me and grab my business. Send me offers that are relevant…for me. And deliver them at the right time, at the time of my need or purchase, not a month later. If I used a coupon for a beach umbrella and also purchased sunscreen, why not suggest an offer for discounted swimsuits? And converse with me via my mobile phone, in a personalized manner via text, the way I prefer to communicate. Retailers can use chatbots to produce conversational interfaces to make offers make sense and be timely. They can connect with buyers emotionally and show the brand truly knows what they need in each season of life. And with machine learning and advanced intelligence capabilities, chatbots can truly understand who I am and what I need.

Dear Retailers, connect with me in a way I can “chat” about what’s going on in my life and my evolving preferences. The result? You can respond with something of value, or even get ahead of me to anticipate things I will need.

Learn more by reading our Executive Brief: Shopping with Conversational Retail Bots.

Get the Brief