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Chatbot Craze: Why Mobile Shopping is Easier Than Ever

Gone are the days of consumers encountering tediously long checkout experiences on a mobile site or app and having to manually enter in all credit card and personal information. The rapidly evolving commerce sector has given way to the newest darling of mobile, chatbots, making shopping on smartphones easier than ever. Brands such as 1-800-Flowers and Burger King were the first to hop on the chatbot bandwagon when the technology first publicly debuted on Facebook Messenger this past spring.

Now, major companies including Taco Bell and Sephora have joined the ranks, enabling consumers to input food orders and purchase desirable items in the most mobile-friendly way possible: through a messaging app.

Quick service restaurant chains have found much success in enabling customers to place orders through their Facebook Messenger chatbots. Instead of requiring a consumer to download the chain’s mobile app in order to place and pay for an order, companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Wingstop, and Burger King let individuals visit their Facebook pages and directly message a chatbot to begin the ordering process.

Consumers can answer the bot’s yes or no questions to complete their orders and add on any side dishes. The bot will ask them to confirm the restaurant location for pick-up before seamlessly bringing users to a third-party site to input payment details. Chatbots for QSR chains are well-poised to drive a plethora of impulse purchases, particularly among consumers who may be making plans with friends via Messenger and become inspired to order some food within the same app.

Chatbot commerce also extends itself to the retail industry. Sephora, for example, opted to establish a chatbot on messaging app Kik, which is popular with younger consumers and millennials. Beauty fans can converse with the bot regarding latest trends, view product reviews and receive recommendations before making a purchase. The first chatbot interaction comes in the form of a mobile quiz, so that the artificial intelligence technology can get a better sense of each individual’s tastes and interests.

AI has also made its way to the travel sector. Several major international airlines, including KLM and Icelandair, now allow Facebook Messenger users to chat with their bots and receive suggestions for stopovers. Users can also book their flights directly with the bots, simply by answering several questions, such as type of flight, departure and arrival cities, and desired travel dates.

Hotel marketers are just beginning to join the chatbot action, with several third-party companies implementing natural language and machine learning capabilities into their Facebook Messenger bots. One chatbot designed by DMI International and Zumata functions as a search engine that can pull hotel suggestions from thousands of available properties. This way, if consumers have a destination in mind but are not particular about which chain to stay at, they can converse with the chatbot, inform it of any specifications and make a quicker choice once the bot presents several options.

Ultimately, mobile shopping capabilities will only continue to become more optimized and streamlined, not to mention faster. Although it may not be feasible for every brand to introduce a chatbot – on Facebook Messenger, Kik, or elsewhere – marketers should still brainstorm ways in which they can remove some friction and steps from their mobile checkout processes. Keeping personalization at the forefront of all efforts is important, too. After all, if a customer does not feel as though a company’s mobile shopping experience is tailored to him specifically, what is stopping him from heading to Facebook Messenger and being greeted by a competing brand by name?

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Kristin Schepici, Director, Marketing

Kristin is a senior marketing professional with a strong focus in multimedia and experience developing and executing integrated marketing communication plans. With a strong focus on inbound marketing, she oversees the development and implementation of online marketing strategies.

Topics: mobile shopping

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