Published Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017
As Digital Innovation Transforms the Retail Industry, Chatbots Can be Key to a Brick-and-Mortar Resurgence
LIVONIA, Mich., Sept. 19, 2017: Valassis, a leader in intelligent media delivery, today shares insights on the value of chatbots in the modern-day retail environment. These powerful artificial intelligence (AI) programs can enhance consumer engagement, job functions and employee efficiency and productivity.
By simulating human conversation through AI, chatbot applications are proven to bolster certain business functions – especially in the retail industry where they are projected to cut business costs $8 billion by 2022. However, there’s a way to go until we see optimal usage of chatbots and broad acceptance from consumers. In fact, over half of consumers globally (56 percent) still prefer to speak with a human instead of getting assistance from a chatbot.
“The wave of AI innovation has brought chatbots to the forefront, but this does not mean that we, as a digital society, will not experience some growing pains as they are applied to business practices,” said Cali Tran, President, Valassis Digital. “When thinking about including chatbots in omnichannel initiatives, there are several things to consider. It is important to understand how bots should be leveraged, find natural ways to integrate them into different consumer touchpoint strategies and determine how they will work best in conjunction with live human experiences.”
Marketers should keep the following benefits and approaches in mind as they optimize chatbots to increase their bottom line:
1. Drive In-store Foot Traffic: One might envision chatbots as best-suited for small purchases or customer service, but they can provide greater benefits by driving sales for high-ticket items in brick-and-mortar locations – such as a car being sold in a dealership. When properly integrated into an omnichannel approach, chatbots can be part of a strategy that combines digital and physical components. Programmed with appropriate scripts, they can reach and ultimately help convert consumers into purchasers, by eliminating friction along the path to purchase and by answering questions that drive shoppers into brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, according to RetailMeNot, about 9 in 10 retailers are planning to increase their investments in mobile (92 percent) or social media (89 percent) advertising this year. This further supports Chatbots as a tool in marketers’ consideration sets.
2. Merge Humans and Automation: While concerns have been raised about chatbots replacing human jobs, they are actually meant to increase employee efficiency and productivity. By serving as the first point of contact for consumer inquiries, chatbots can respond quickly to kick off conversations, then forward the consumer to a representative in the event of a more complex situation. While companies continue to work on optimizing chatbots, they should be viewed as tools to engage consumers and deliver value – not solve every issue. That is where humans come in.
3. Supercharge Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Organizations are constantly looking for ways to gather more data on customers so they can better understand them to provide a more relevant, personalized experience. Chatbot data can easily integrate into existing CRM systems to give marketers a broader, more robust profile of their core audiences.
Visit Valassis’ website to learn more about how we are developing and leveraging chatbots to improve the customer experience.
Valassis is a leader in intelligent media delivery, providing over 58,000 clients with innovative media solutions to influence consumers wherever they plan, shop, buy and share. By integrating online and offline data combined with powerful insights, Valassis precisely targets its clients’ most valuable shoppers, offering unparalleled reach and scale. NCH Marketing Services, Inc. and Clipper Magazine are Valassis subsidiaries, and RedPlum® is its consumer brand. Its signature Have You Seen Me?® program delivers hope to missing children and their families. As wholly owned subsidiaries of Harland Clarke Holdings, Valassis and RetailMeNot, a leading destination for digital savings, are partnering to connect retailers and consumers through meaningful digital, mobile and print promotions.