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What The Evolution Of Chatbots Means For Ecommerce Stores

the evolution of chatbots and what it means for ecommerce stores

Most people didn’t expect the appearance and popularity of chatbots that we have today. It all started when Facebook split off Messenger as a messaging app in 2011. In 4 short years it gained 600 million users. Now this number is over 2 billions!

In 2016’s F8 (the Facebook’s conference) it was announced that the platform would open to chatbots and people start devleoping chatbots for Messenger. Most of those were simple bots that could tell you the weather when asked, or other relevants information.

Flashchat was one of the few businesses that developed a chatbot platform for businesses and especially ecommerce stores in order to make their customer support teams more efficient by handling redundant questions and showing their products right in the Messenger platform.

At first, there was a lot of backlash towards chatbots mostly because there was a public perception that chatbots would be so intelligent that a human could hold a normal conversation with them. For better or worse, this wasn’t the case and that’s why some chatbots platforms opted for a slightly scripted conversation between a chatbot and a person through pre-defined questions and a range of responses, so that it wouldn’t go off the rails.

Although more platforms than just Messenger are supported, the focus of the customers and businesses alike is mostly on Facebook’s Messenger, because the engagement and potential audience are the highest among messaging apps.

The uses of chatbots for businesses can vary, but for ecommerce stores some core uses are answering questions like:

  • How long does it take for an order to arrive?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • What’s your return policy?

and more. For more complex questions, a customer support agent can step in, take the reigns and reply manually. It’s the best of both worlds right now.

How Chatbots Have Improved Ecommerce Businesses

At first, chatbots were able to only chat through text and on various platforms. Now, the focus is on Facebook and its environment offers chatbot developers the ability to include multimedia, like photos and videos in their chatbots.

Coupling that with the fact that transactions happen pretty often through Facebook ads, it becomes obvious how including your ecommerce store’s products into Messenger can help facilitate purchases in this environment.

Being able to show your potential customers photos of your products is very important and that’s what Facebook’s Messenger does.

How Facebook helps the spread of your chatbots

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Facebook is betting heavily on chatbots, as they have a tab called “Discover” inside Messenger where you can see chatbots you recently interacted with or chatbot recommendations.

Apart from that, you can now also run ads inside Messenger to people who messaged your bot, or run targeted offers and campaigns to them through Messenger Newsletters.

In our next post we will cover how exactly to run ads in order for Facebook users to engage with your chatbot, so not only they can browse your products, but so you can also message them later with a Messenger Newsletter.

Updates & Notifications Via Messenger Chatbots

More and more big companies are using chatbots to provide the option for customers to receive updates or reminders about their orders via Facebook Messenger. An example is airlines sending a message to passengers’ Facebook profile a day before their flight.

For ecommerce stores this means sending a message to their customers with updates to their orders, like when it’s been dispatched, when it arrives at their location, if they don’t find them, etc.

Conclusion

These are some areas that chatbots can help ecommerce businesses with, along with customer support which we covered in an earlier post. As chatbots become more and more part of our every day use of social media and interaction with business pages this number will surely grow.

Facebook is already opening up more options and possibilities for chatbot platforms like Flashchat, so we can expand our features and provide our customers with more functionality. Stay tuned for more!

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