Talk to Me

Why retailers must capitalize on conversational marketing in an era of choice overload.
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“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” – Herbert Simon

When the economist and psychologist Herbert Simon made his famous observation about the relationship between information and attention, TV consisted of a few broadcast channels and the Internet was a handful of networked computers in the U.S. Defense Department. Yet Simon’s diagnosis of the problem of information overload is, if anything, even more relevant today.

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Nowhere is the problem of “TMI” more evident than in retail, where SKU proliferation has confronted consumers with a seemingly endless array of options. While having an abundance of choices may intuitively sound like a good thing, it can actually freeze consumers in their tracks and stop them from buying anything.

Great retailers have long known how to tackle this challenge—with a friendly, knowledgeable sales associate who can chat up a customer before pairing them with the appropriate product. Retailers have been in the business of what we now call conversational marketing before we even knew “conversational marketing” was a thing. The central challenge for retailers today is scaling and extending this approach to every possible consumer touch point, whether it be in store or to the growing share of the business that’s migrating online.

Thanks to advancements in machine learning and natural language processing, it’s possible to build a conversational marketing tool that can do just that.

Zoovu AI Digital Assistant, Your Conversational Marketing Robot

The key to any great conversation is using language that everyone understands. Zoovu’s AI Digital Assistant has been trained to recognize and translate thousands of SKUs and product features—the kind of dry, mind-numbing specifications that freeze consumers in their tracks—into language that’s actually meaningful to human shoppers. Abstract terms like “GPU speed” are transformed into a needs-based questions like, “will you edit video on your laptop?” The laptop’s weight becomes “do you plan to travel a lot with your laptop?” This approach has proven quite effective at increasing conversion rates and raising average order prices.

Armed with this and hundreds of successful question templates that have been implemented by brands such as Canon, Amazon and Microsoft, the Zoovu Assistant helps consumers narrow in on the product that best suites their unique needs. These questions needn’t be plain, text-based queries. The Digital Assistant can incorporate visuals and rich media, alongside third-party and user-generated content to aid in the purchasing decision. When a customer has found a product that works for them, the assistant can enrich the post-sales experience with tips and content for how to make the most of it.

While an AI Assistant can leverage the benefits of an authentic human interaction, it doesn’t suffer from our all-too-human foibles: it doesn’t call out sick, is always on message and can be trained in seconds with new products. Welcome to the future.

The Key Benefits of AI Conversational Marketing Tool

  • Scalable: The Zoovu Assistant can ingest tens of thousands of product SKUs, convert them into human-friendly features and be uploaded to your e-commerce platform instantly. Initial set-up times are measured in days to a few weeks, unlike bespoke solutions that can take months to roll out.
  • Approachable: Customers engage with the Digital Assistant using words and terminology that they understand. There’s no tech speak or industry jargon to confuse the user.
  • Better than drop-down filters: The user-experience research agency Baymard Institute found that if filters contain terms or parameters that an average consumer doesn’t understand (ahem, GPU speed), the filters can “be as damaging as not having [them] in the first place,” the company says.
  • Always learning: Zoovu harvests tons of actionable insights from its conversations to help hone your marketing and sales performance. The assistant gathers real-time metrics across three broad categories: how its questions are faring, how products are performing and how consumers are behaving. Thanks to machine learning, Zoovu is able to aggregate the insights it collects to continually train and update the assistant and optimize its performance.
  • Available in store: The same Digital Assistant can be deployed to brick-and-mortar locations in the form a self-service kiosk running the Zoovu Assistant. Like a human sales associate, the kiosk will ask how it can help and then guide consumers to the product that best suits their needs. Since it’s tightly integrated with retail systems, the kiosk assistant can not only identify which product a consumer should purchase, but where in the store they can find it. The assistant can be integrated with retail point-of-sale systems too, so customers can find and buy the product right from the kiosk and simply walk over to the register to pick it up.

Additional Resources

White Paper: How Conversational Marketing Turns Curious Consumers into Informed Buyers

This article was sponsored by Zoovu.

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