What added value fashion retailers offer their customers through chatbots.

Intelligent, female and attractive

Is brick-and-mortar retail gambling away its future success by disregarding the power of individual service?

Alexa, Siri, Cortana and other chatbots have been welcomed in our homes to offer additional services and comfort. This development is not surprising, since we are already used to these friendly chatbots that assist us when shopping on the Internet. They answer every question instantly, assist in product search, and provide further information. Also, they are unobtrusive and can be simply clicked away – without being considered rude.  However, does it make sense to have chatbots in stores too?

Will we be soon dressed by robots?

Individual service has always been the main benefit of brick-and-mortar retail. But how do robots fit in here? Difficult to imagine. However, fashion retailers are convinced in their pioneering role: the chatbot is the perfect complement to their sales team. Via the customer’s smartphone, the chatbot is always ready to communicate. Especially when the sales personnel is busy, the chatbot offers the possibility of a first dialogue with the customer. It keeps the customer engaged and supports the article search and finding them in different colours and sizes. The target group of digital natives are additionally delighted by its chat functionalities and WhatsApp fans will start chatting right away.

Programmed sensitivity

Sales psychology is very complex. Being present, but not too intrusive – the customer should perceive the sales personnel in a pleasant way. *In particular, female customers often want to have a look around first. Shopping for them does not necessarily mean to look for something specific. As a result, individual service is not needed or desired immediately after entering the store. On the other hand, for men, immediate assistance given by the sales personnel is often too early.* Therefore, the support of a pure informative as well as anonymous chatbot assistant is very welcomed. Especially on larger sales floors, chatbots are able to convince customers within significant time. They are highly efficient and show articles that are interesting only for the individual customer. This is known from the web shop and appreciated especially by men. If the customer has decided to try on one or more articles, the chatbot retreats discreetly. The customer controls the dialogue with the chatbot; when it starts and stops or even putting it on hold. *In contrast to beacons, that push communicational content without the customer triggering an actual impulse.*

Online mechanism brought to the store

The chatbot brings a form of intelligence into the store that is well known in online retailing. It delivers several filters for its recommendations: e.g. popular articles, bestsellers, articles on sale or even product variants. Artificial intelligence, however, is not limited to the chatbot itself. What makes it even more exciting is how it communicates with other systems in the background. The chatbot checks the actual article availability in real-time and compiles data about customer cluster and their preferred article combinations. As a result, recommendations become personal and meaningful, since only articles are offered that are actually available in the store – making them immediately available to buy. All this makes the chatbot a reliable ‘sales person’ as well as a tool that the customer will be very likely to use again next time.

Perfect team-work

The digital assistance along the entire shopping process makes perfect sense especially in the fitting room. In there, the customer should not be left alone, since the fitting room is the place where an actual buying decision is made. During fitting, customers are particularly receptive to cross-selling offers, for example matching articles or accessories. For this, the chatbot offers a unique service: using a “bring-me” function, the customer is able to request the sales personnel to bring the desired article directly to the fitting room without the need of leaving it. The chatbot informs the sales personnel using an internal push-messaging service. In perfect team work, a sales person takes over from here and provides individual service until the customer is ready to buy.

The use of chatbots at the point-of-sale supports digital-oriented target groups via their smartphones where help is needed and refers them to the sales personnel as soon as it is required in the sales process. Therefore, chatbot and sales personnel represent an exceptional good team. Convinced virtually and taken care of personally, is the newest form of customer service. And as if there is an unwritten law: this chatbot in the store is of course female! And goes by the name Detega.

Chatbot Detega informs about articles on the sales floor.

Image source: IStock, Copyright: shapecharge

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