How AI chatbots will transform the retail industry in 2020?
Consumer Good manufacturers are an integral part of the retail value chain and while a lot has been talked about application of AI and Chatbots in retail, this article focuses specifically on how Consumer Good brands too can benefit from chatbot technology. It is a known fact that relationship between brand manufacturers and retailers have always been strained through the decades and the quest for the last-mile control for consumers can be seen with more and more brands adopting a Direct-to-Consumer strategy in recent years. A great example of this being Nike announcing that it is pulling back from Amazon in November 2019 after 2 years of signing the partnership deal.
So can AI chatbots help Consumer Product companies? And if so How?
When I speak to consumer good companies about AI chatbots and their potential to impact P&L, one of the most common objections I get is that “we do not sell online but instead we sell through ecommerce channel partners. So how is AI bot relevant for us?”. Having helped some of the largest global CPG companies implement AI assistants or chatbots over last 3 years, I assure you there is a lot chatbots in retail can offer even if you are not selling online. Here are the top 4 chatbot use cases that you can look to implement in 2020
Top 4 chatbot use cases that you can look to implement in 2020
Top1: An AI Chatbot on the brand’s website helping consumers with their product research
Regardless whether you sell online or not, you still have a website and you still have a steady flow of consumers visiting your website every month. Right? (If the answer to this question is “no” then skip this use case – this is not for you). Your consumers are flocking your website for just one reason. They want to research more about your products, they have questions and are searching for answers on your website and this is your chance to engage them, give them what they need and help them decide. An AI chatbot that has been trained well on your products and knows everything about your brand is a great tool to deploy on your website, as a companion app, making it super easy and convenient for your consumers to find the information they need and also personalize the interaction based on the consumer’s context. With every conversation, it is not just that your AI is learning and getting better, but you are also collecting rich consumer behavior data which, if harnessed correctly, can produce deep and unique precision marketing insights on topics ranging from online experience to new product ideas.
Top2: An AI chatbot on select product pages of your ecommerce channel partner’s website
Most of the global consumer product manufacturers sell online via e-commerce channel partners and even if they have a direct-to-consumer strategy, it is likely that a bulk of the online revenue is still coming from e-commerce channel partners. If you are one such brand and if you are thinking how can an AI chatbot help you drives more sales, why not explore with your e-commerce channel partner the possibility of having your AI assistant on your product pages of their website? An AI chatbot trained about your products that can answer questions of consumers instantly is a great tool to differentiate your brand from your competition selling on the same channel partner’s website. But it does not stop just there. Remember the conversation data still comes to you (it is your AI chatbot after all and all interactions with the ai bot gets saved) and your marketers get to benefit from all the insights hidden in these conversations.
Top3: An AI chatbot available through a simple QR Code on your retail partner’s store
Is chatbot technology only for the online world? No, they are not and infact they can be your differentiator even in physical stores. Your consumers are buying your products from retail stores and you are left at the mercy of the store associate to sell your products. Why not have your chatbot made available through a branded QR Code inside the store? Your consumer has a question on your product, she scans the QR Code and your AI assistant pops up in her mobile phone assisting her with her questions, connecting her to your in-house experts seamlessly and also probably offering her a personalised discount voucher instantly. Wouldn’t that disrupt your competition? One such great example is Dulux paints, the No1 paints brand in UK that launched their AI assistant in Homebase stores in UK. (If you are based in London and you want to see first-hand how this works, you should visit one of the Homebase stores and check it out yourself.)
Top4: An AI chatbot that converts banners into conversations using Conversational Ads
Digital Ads in the form of intelligent conversational interfaces gives your brand marketers a new and powerful way to engage your consumers and drive productive outcomes. Banner ads are one directional and non-interactive while conversational Ads are two way interactions that can be personalised to the consumer’s context at scale. Also, imagine the effort and cost this saves you from creating a maze of landing pages, forms and navigation steps on your website prior to launching your Ad campaign only to get people come on your website. With conversational Ads, you engage the right customers instantly and drive meaningful outcomes.
In summary, even if consumers do not buy products from the manufacturer’s websites directly, consumers still expect their favourite brands to serve them and help them make the right choice. AI chatbots offer consumer product manufacturers a whole new opportunity to engage their consumers and differentiate from competition and here are the top 4 ai chatbot use cases for CPG companies
An AI Chatbot on the brand’s website helping consumers with their product research.
An AI chatbot that runs on product pages of the e-commerce channel partner’s website helping consumers with their product choice on behalf of the manufacturer bringing the insights back to the brand.
An AI chatbot available through a simple QR Code in the retail partner’s store to engage in-store consumers and answer her questions.
An AI chatbot that converts banners into conversations using Conversational Ads.