Chatbot Shopping Examples

Businesses that are using Chatbots are expanding rapidly. One of them is online shopping. In terms of traditional online shopping, customers select the product by looking at the site’s catalog. With clothing, one selects the size and color then fills out the purchase form through the chatting system.   Here we introduce two cases of online shopping in America. Let’s look at the sample screen to see how the shopping is done.


Operator, an online company that sells a variety of products.

 

First is the case of the Operator.

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Photo 1 Operator (https://www.operator.com/)

 
The website sells a wide range of products such as home appliances, clothing, tickets, and furniture. Figure 2 is a screen shot of a customer searching for flowers he wants to buy.

f02-1 If the customer writes “I want to send a bouquet as a gift to my wife next week”, it will respond “Is there a particular flower that she likes?” If he also wrote “She likes pink flowers and I would like to choose flowers that are in season”, the Bot would select a bouquet of tulips and display a picture, price, and other details. This is a simple example, but the response will proceed automatically in the form of a Bot.  

f03-1 This time, here is an example of purchasing through chatting.   The customer asks, “I’m looking for 3 tickets to see Bonnaro this summer” to which the Bot answers “Tickets for next Friday at 10 o’clock are available for purchase”. The Bot also asks, “Do you also need admission tickets for the camp?” at the same time. The Bot sells tickets and also makes suggestions for other items. This form of response is difficult to expect from ordinary online shopping sites.   ‘Anything’ (Photo 4) is another you should take note of.

f04-1 The Bot is capable of responding to a customer’s with messages such as “I want to surprise my younger sibling with a graduation gift”. The Bot will respond, “Of course. Is there anything she wants in particular?” If the customer says “She is going on a 3-day kayaking trip so it would be nice to get her something she needs for that”, the Bot will recommend waterproof speakers.   This kind of response is worth taking note.  

Mezi Can Show You Reviews

The next example is Mezi.

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Photo 5 Mezi(https://mezi.com/)

  It starts off with a request. (Photo 6)

f06-1 Here the customer writes that she is looking for new sneakers and adds “I’m looking for something really hip”. Here, slang such as the word ‘hip’ is being used. The Bot responds by asking her shoe size and saying “I’ll be back in a few minutes with some fun options for you.”   The sneaker that the Bot actually chose will come up along with its reviews. (Photo 7)

f07-1 It can be said that the Bot well-understood the meaning of ‘hip’ as it introduced the “fashionable and hip sneakers” to the customer. (though we don’t know if they are actually sold or not) Even though the screenshot shows only one pair of sneakers, the Bot can show multiple options and let the customer choose among them. The review shown is from an actual purchaser. With the reviews, you can get product information and testimonials that you can’t get through corresponding with the Bot. It can be said that there was research done about this aspect.   The final confirmation screen (Photo 8)

f08-1 You can purchase after a final review. There is also information about the services after the purchase.

 

Changes in the Customer Response System through Chatting

Even though it is carried out by a human operator instead of a ChatBot, Daito Trust Construction in Japan is offering services for people looking for housing by using Line Talk. From consultations on renting an apartment or a mansion to tips on the moving in process, the designated operator takes full responsibility using Line Talk to advise. The image is shown below.

f09 The operator is responding to the customer’s need by effectively using emoticons. The company is often attracting customers because they can enter what they are looking for simply and conveniently through chatting. You can say that the convenient usability of a Chat interface is being used in business just as it is.   It also has another effect. Basic questions and inquiries that were not asked much in the past are seemingly increasing. In many cases, chatting allowed customers ask questions that are hard for them to ask over the phone or emails. Ultimately, Daito Trust analyzes all the factors that are contributing to the attraction of more customers and winning more contracts.   Although they differ from Daito Trust’s case, upon adopting similar chatting system, some companies are achieving cost savings by automating parts of their system. Through these services, much more content to questions and trend analysis becomes possible. The ChatBot can reply directly based on the database built through the analysis of frequently asked questions and answers, and in the case where there is no corresponding database available and personal response is necessary, an operator will respond.  

f10 (Figure: The System Structure of the Operator and the ChatBot) The division of customer service between the operator and the ChatBot might make swift response and cost saving possible as well.   The shopping system introduced here has been using the ChatBot for 100% of their business needs from the beginning. But it might be a good idea to use humans in the beginning, and partially and gradually move on to the ChatBot system while building experience and history during the process. Besides, it will be meaningless if 100% response by the ChatBot results in unsatisfactory customer service. Soon, it would be beneficial to consider the service content and expenses while making a plan to introduce a ChatBot.   Anyhow, the Chat service has created a point of contact for new customers that was unprecedented before, allowed new possibilities of corresponding with customers and is able to meet the needs in a completely different way. We will continue to make fun ChatBot related contributions.

     

A Contribution about ChatBot Part 1

ChatBot is an automated communication program.

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Since the communication is done in a real-time basis, one entry of message in general contains somewhere between a few words and a few dozens of words. The convenience and the easy file sharing feature, SNS is expanding the user base through the interpersonal relationships such as friends and acquaintances.
 
InCircle is different from personal SNS since it can restrict business users and establishes security measures by encrypting the communication and recently many similar chat tools are made available in the market.
In this article, I want to introduce an overview of the Chatbot and some cases, which are currently under development.
 

What is a ChatBot?

The origin of “Bot” in ChatBot is “Robot”. In terms of the robot, one of its important features is being able to replace a variety of activities and tasks that humans must perform. f02-183x300 The ChatBot that is mentioned here is a program (or including the entire system) that can perform communication in place of the human automatically. A Chatting Bot in itself is nothing new by any means. Long ago in 1960, Joseph Weizenbaum created ELIZA. It corresponded to the letter string of human character input. One of the features included the emulation of psychotherapist. (also known as artificial incompetence)
 
With the advancement of technology in artificial intelligence and natural language processing (or voice recognition), there have been efforts to develop systems that could communicate with humans in diverse conditions. Two most interesting developments are Smartphone chatting and messenger apps.
 
One reason is that the penetration rate is very high. It is reported that approximately over 2.5 billion people not only use Smartphones but also install Chat apps. (By the Economist/Statista research) Namely, Chat apps are application programs mostly used on devices and new attempts are being made for the delivery and exchange of messages such as the ChatBot.
 
If you look at the above image of the dialogue with a ChatBot, you can tell how similar the communication is to communication with humans. The human’s message is in yellow and the ChatBot’s response is in blue.
 

Using Chat to Search

In reality, there is no ChatBot that can give perfect answers as shown in the above conversation as of yet, but when you use a search engine to find answers to the same question, you will have to go through the following process:
 

  • Start a restaurant guide
  • Search for information such as location
  • Confirm location with the map application

This task requires such. But if you have access to a ChatBot, you can complete these steps in a chatting application program.
 
In addition, many of the currently available applications can be changed into ChatBot programs. Take the search activity for example. As of now, you have to open a search engine and enter keywords in the search bar to find the information you are looking for. But if search becomes available in a chatting app, you can enter a few questions and get the answers you need without having to open a search engine. If this becomes a reality, it is possible that ChatBots will replace search engines.
 
Chatbots have the possibility of bringing about big changes, just the same way that Internet search engines changed the world since the year of 2000.
 
With new applications, you must learn how to operate them whereas with Chat, you just create extraordinary simple messages. The ease of this operation will also allow for the replacement of existing apps.
 

Shopping with a ChatBot

Let us introduce you a few examples of ChatBots in actual use.
 
First, this is a user-centric KiK currently available for users in North American region.

Kik

It is an online shopping mall, but it is also known as a “bot shopping mall.” There are about 50 affiliated companies including H&M. When you are looking for a product, you use the Bot of the company that sells the product, and exchange messages with the Bot. For example, if you are looking for a dress, there will be questions and answers exchanged about the color and size, until you make the purchase. This is an example that shows how a website and application have evolved into a ChatBot system.

 

Now, let us introduce another example. This time, it is WeChat of China. WeechatThis is where customers can buy or make reservations for air flights through chatting. Previously, customer reps interacted with customers through chatting, but now, the website is changing into a system where a ChatBot is responding to customers based on their past purchase history and user profiles.

As of now, the service is limited to only a few customers, but it is not hard to expect that accumulated database and system buildup will evolve the website into a system where 100% of services are provided by ChatBot.
 

Using ChatBot for Business

If we look at it from the business aspect, if you link the company’s accounting system and a chatting tool, you have a ChatBot that can take care of business expenses such as reimbursement for transportation over the PC or the Smartphone.

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As you can see in this chart, a ChatBot mediates between chat and the accounting program. The ChatBot recognizes the user’s message that reads “submit reimbursement” and starts the accounting system over the chatting program. When you enter all details such as the date, name of the business you’d visited, the means of transportation, departure and arrival time, expenses, and either one-way or two-way trip, the ChatBot delivers the input information to the accounting program. The ChatBot that receives this input information will then send the information to the accounting program.

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The screen on the left shows a conversation with a ChatBot. You need to take a note of how expressions such as “it’s going well” and “keep up the good work ^0^” appear frequently in the conversation. It also features the past history to make it easier to enter the information. It also has the advantage of showing a humanistic side when complementing hard work (as opposed to the mechanical system that lets you enter only necessary information), which makes it more likely for ChatBot to become widely popular. In case you don’t want to enter the information on the chatting box, you can always swipe the screen and open the old-style input format.
 

Paving the Road for the Development of Chatbots

Microsoft and Facebook have begun to pave the road to open an environment for the ChatBot development.

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As was mentioned previously, there is no ChatBot that is available for practical use as of now. But I believe the ChatBot development will start gaining momentum thanks to the environment that makes it possible, and platforms different from the existing search engines will soon be made available. There is also a need for the standardization of application program interface (API) in order to link systems, such as the accounting program for the reimbursement of transportation expenses.
 
I will continue to make contribution articles about chatpot system and various forms of services associated with ChatBot.