UK shoppers struggle to be understood by chatbots: survey

25 Jun '21
3 min read
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock

Although chatbots are primarily used for customer service, more than half of UK shoppers want to also use chatbots to connect with an employee for advice and 45 per cent want support finding specific products, according to a survey of 800 respondents by Lucidworks, provider of the Connected Experience Cloud. Two-fifths of UK shoppers said they use a site’s chatbot often or at every visit.

Unfortunately, frequent usage does not translate into satisfaction with over 40 per cent of respondents saying chatbots understand them rarely or never.

The survey about shopper behaviour and preferences in the United Kingdom and the United States outlines how shoppers interact with chatbots, product and content recommendations, where they prefer to do research, and plan for future in-store shopping.

Shoppers are ready for an experience that’s as multifaceted as they are; this includes expanded chatbot capabilities, diverse recommendations that incorporate content, and personalised experiences that understand who they are and what they like, the company said in a press release.

Simply providing a chatbot is not sufficient, and a below-par experience can actually do more harm than good. Brands need to up their game, and invest in machine learning and natural language processing to extend a chatbot’s functionality so shoppers can ask questions in a natural way and get immediate, relevant and contextual answers.

Product recommendations are a proven approach to adding value to consumers’ shopping experiences, as well as increasing average order value for brands. The overwhelming majority of shoppers (78 per cent) across the UK and the US interact with product recommendations always or often, and 58 per cent of UK shoppers say every visit or often they buy recommended items they didn’t initially plan on buying.

However, shoppers also signaled that suggested content, including how-to and do-it-yourself (DIY) guides, expert recommendations and product videos, are useful, particularly during the research phase of a customer journey.

Almost two-thirds of UK shoppers do research always or often before making a purchase. Reviews from other customers were most popular, and roughly a quarter of respondents reviewed branded content on the website before purchasing.

Although recommending this type of unstructured content is more difficult for legacy commerce technology environments, surfacing relevant content builds trust with shoppers and keeps them on site longer, the survey found.

Many of the shopping behaviours adapted over the past year will continue even once restrictions are lifted. For example, 39 per cent of UK shoppers plan to visit in-person stores less often than before COVID-19. Willingness to return to stores in-person varied across verticals.

Apparel appears more resilient than other industries. Although today, two-thirds of UK shoppers buy apparel or clothing online to have it delivered, as restrictions lift more than half of shoppers (59 per cent) plan to primarily purchase apparel or clothing in person.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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