Thursday, 2 February 2017

Are Chatbots the future of E-Commerce?

With Valentine’s Day coming up I wish 1-800-flowers was available in Australia. Being able to order flowers from Facebook Messenger is so 2017, you can literally place an order in a minute without having to call or physically go to the florist. Chatbot is the new black.

In the early days of Artificial Intelligence research, chatbots were seen as an intriguing (but for the most part, useless) technology. Today, chatbots are poised to revolutionise the way we communicate and could change marketing forever. Chatbots and the A.I. technology that enables them are on the rise and constantly evolving.

eMarketer predicts that by 2018, 65% of the global population will use messaging apps. And with so many of these messaging apps now supporting chatbots, it’s not surprising that the global chatbot market is expected to grow exponentially between 2016 and 2023 (source: Credence Research). 

Fun fact: did you know that Facebook Messenger alone now has more than 30,000 chatbots you can interact with. These include 1-800-Flowers chatbot for ordering flower, Poncho chatbot for checking the weather and Uber chatbot for finding a ride. (source: Global Web Index)

As e-commerce consumers become more comfortable interacting with machines online, chatbots will inevitably continue to dominate the online landscape.

Although most chatbot tasks are relatively basic for now, that is unlikely to be the case for long. Conversational dead-ends happen, and answers are often tone-deaf. But like real people, chatbots need time to learn — think of them as trial and error. 

If you go off script, for example, to change your delivery date, the chatbot doesn’t always follow you. Often you’ll go all the way to the end before you can cancel your order and start again. But chatbots will get smarter as more people keep using them, and as developer perfect what it is that people want and need.

Like all good things in life, it takes time!

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