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Retail Chatbots: Get to Know RooBot and Why Everyone's Talking about AI

Chatbots are a hot topic right now because they represent such a significant opportunity. Six of the top ten most used apps globally are messaging apps with billions of users, and intelligent, conversational chatbots are the new interfaces for these apps. 

An increasing number of people prefer to use messaging apps to contact businesses privately—whether through Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, and others. According to recent SocialBakers research, public posts on Facebook are in decline, and private messages between customers and brands are now five times the volume of wall posts. As a result, over 10,000 companies are developing artificially intelligent chatbots to handle those private conversations.

This is important because the average time it takes for a company to respond to a message is 10 hours (obviously not good!) and the average messaging conversation is 66% longer than the average page conversation. So, done manually, this is a high touch, high cost, high impact area. 

Retail Smartbots (aka Virtual Personal Shoppers)

This is where our new Oracle Commerce Cloud partner, RooBot comes in. RooBot provides retailers with a turnkey, white label, “Personal Shopper Smartbot” solution to meet this growing demand from customers while also helping to reduce costs, increase engagement, customer satisfaction, and sales conversion, and provide vital social data back to merchants. 

RooBot just launched its new Commerce Cloud integration now live in our Marketplace which makes it even faster to get up and running with your own AI chatbot. Better still, for a limited time, RooBot is offering Oracle Commerce Cloud retailers a 60-day free trial of its Smartbot platform to test this holiday season! If you’ve been curious about chatbots and how to get value from them, this is a great way to test them out with minimal investment during a crucial selling season. 

We’ve asked Laurence Marks, CEO of RooBot, to play 7 Questions with us, so you can learn more about the future of where AI chatbots are going and why it matters. 

1. What are chatbots and why should retailers use them?

A chatbot is a computer program simulating how a person would respond in a conversational manner (often via text).  Many chatbots either deliver “basic search” results or are “virtual agents” that handle a specific, narrow task, such as customer service requests.  Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, and David Marcus, VP of Facebook Messenger, each described chatbots as a new version of apps.

“Smartbots” is an advanced chatbot due to its more sophisticated Natural Language Processing (“NLP”) and AI capabilities.  And Amazon Alexa, a “Virtual Personal Shopper” (“VPS”) Smartbot, is arguably the most successful.  Alexa has catalyzed social commerce by interacting naturally with shoppers on a massive scale, understanding their shopping interest and delivering highly personalized shopping services.

With their own VPS, retailers can give their consumers an Amazon Alexa-like Smartbot to simply ask for:

  • The products and loyalty offers they want
  • For the brands and retailers they love
  • At the price they need

By launching a VPS Smartbot, retailers can take advantage of several factors:

  • Consumer Trends: 
    • Social Media: Shoppers spend a significant portion of their device time on social media, and they want to interact with their favorite brands via Facebook and messaging apps.
    • Voice: Consumers increasingly want the choice to use voice or text to ask their mobile device for information they want.
    • Personalization: Shoppers expect instantly personalized results. 
  • Retailer Benefits:
    • Engagement: Personalized products/offers based on each consumers buying intent
    • Scalability: Retailers give each consumer their own “Virtual Sales Associate” across any platform (Facebook, Messenger, Google Assistant, iOS app, Android, etc.)
    • Social Data: Social shopping profiles deepen the retailer’s CRM
  • Competitive Positioning
    • Against Amazon and other sector competitors

2. Tell us about RooBot and how your solution helps retailers sell more effectively.

RooBot's turnkey, white-label “Personal Shopper” empowers retailers with a service similar to Amazon Alexa. The best way to illustrate how RooBot helps retailers sell is an example. 

Activating Social Commerce

  • “Susan Smith” is one of 7.2 million people who follow the The Body Shop brand on Facebook.
  • Susan goes to the The Body Shop page on Facebook and begins talking with The Body Shop’s Personal Shopper Smartbot: “I’m looking for body lotion for less than $20.” 
  • After getting five recommendations, Susan realizes the price point isn’t exactly right, so she asks for “How about less than $30.”  The Smartbot recognizes this is part of the same conversation and makes the change.
  • Susan clicks on the “Jasmine Body Cream," but she does not buy yet.

Linking Social Shopping Data to Existing CRM

  • RooBot builds an in-depth shopping profile on all of Susan’s shopping activity and links that profile to the existing CRM profile that The Body Shop already has on Susan. 
  • Now, The Body Shop has all of the shopping data that occurs via social media organized in the same way The Body Shop collects data on its website, and it is combined in The Body Shop's CRM.

Cross-Channel Marketing

  • Via RooBot, The Body Shop decides to send Susan a text within Messenger and a Facebook ad offering her “10% off Jasmine Body Cream,” as well as “20% off Mango Premium Gift Set” because RooBot + The Body Shop data informs that people who like one, like the other.   
  • The Body Shop also sends a marketing email to Susan with the same message.
  • When Susan goes to The Body Shop's website, The Body Shop promotes both products.

The branded and customized Smartbot turns Facebook into an effective social shopping channel for retailers.

The RooBot Smartbot SaaS platform empowers retailers in the following ways:

  • Social Commerce
    • 1:1 personalization for each shopper that is infinitely scalable for retailers
    • The customized Personal Shopper Smartbot creates a low-cost, high ROI, social commerce channel
  • Social Data & Messaging
    • Enables use of shopping data to send targeted product and deal text notifications with >80% view rates 
    • Linking social shopping data with a retailer's existing CRM opens up significant cross-channel marketing opportunities
    • Shopping profile data can also be utilized for sending targeted ads on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

By having a complete solution across social commerce, buyer-intent shopping profile data, and advanced message capabilities for each consumer, the RooBot platform offers retailers the most powerful social commerce solution available.

RooBot is a proven, scalable, carrier-grade solution. You can get up and running in 15 minutes (or within a couple of days for a fully customizable bot), no coding required! This process is made even easier for Commerce Cloud customers by using our prebuilt integration.

3. Do you have any tips for retailers just getting started with chatbots? What are the key considerations and blockers?

While retailers are aware of chatbots, many have not yet implemented them as part of their marketing strategy. Also, some have not decided whether this channel is worth pursuing.

Retailers often focus on customer service chatbots first, as that solves a clear automation need that drives cost-savings and standardization of care. Customer service chatbots serve a specific set of tasks well that relate to a small portion of shopper activity. However, they do not serve the ultimate opportunity for the retailer that a voice-enabled Personal Shopper will that includes:

  • Continuously engaging and entertaining consumers with personalized recommendations
  • Driving towards buying decisions
  • Deepening loyalty
  • Collecting valuable social intent data 

Customer Service bots and Personal Shoppers are two complementary components of a retailer’s bot strategy.  

4. What results have you been seeing for retailers using chatbots? How can retailers make this channel successful?

We are just finishing up an internal beta testing phase with about a dozen retail brands, but in a previous four-week case study with over 5,000 users we gathered the following data: 

  • 69% of users conversed with bot about product related inquiries
  • 3.2 user visits per month
  • 4.2 product searches per user per month (3-4x typical search rate)
  • 32% of users engage beyond their initial search with deeper product-related clicks (comparable to online)
  • Total of 7 Shopping Events triggered in the Smartbot per user per month (Shopping Events are defined as shoppers using search, viewing product, seeing similar products, adding products to wish lists, setting price drop alerts, etc.) 80%+ view rate of Text Messages (vs. <10% for email) 

While chatbots and Smartbots are new emerging social channels, the initial data suggests that usage and conversion rates are already equal to or better than established shopping channels like websites. This means that consumers are quickly getting comfortable with the conversational chat format for shopping.

For retailers to make this social commerce channel successful, they need to leverage their existing Facebook pages, as well as other channels like email, to notify their shoppers about this new shopping channel and how it benefits them.

5. A key element of making chatbots more valuable is utilizing AI to provide smarter responses back to the shopper. How does RooBot handle the convergence of chatbots and AI and where do you see this market going in general?

Most chatbots in the retail space claim to be AI-driven. In reality, they do not have the shopping profile data to deliver a truly personalized shopping experience. Anyone can build a functioning chatbot. However, most chatbots fall short because they lack the data, machine learning, and collaborative filtering necessary to deliver truly scalable 1:1 personalization for each shopper. RooBot has the experience of over 11 billion shopping events that provide the “training set” necessary to deliver AI-driven results.

For retailers, AI powers personalized shopping, which in turn drives engagement, repeat usage, brand loyalty, and sales. The RooBot AI engine is constantly learning new “skills” to advance personalization further.  The constant training of new AI and NLP skills is a good example of where we see the market going, as it ultimately can build even more engagement and increase sales through very natural conversations with the “Personal Shopper Smartbot.” 

6. Do you have any cool new features or improvements coming to RooBot that you can share?

New features that benefit both retailers and their shoppers are regularly being added to the RooBot platform. New features available soon include:

  • Buy Now: 
    • Enables shoppers to either jump directly to their cart, check out, or buy within the Smartbot with one click.
  • Add video:
    • Alongside text, buttons, quick replies, images, and templates, add videos that appear inline without leaving the chat.
  • Teach your bot to understand anything: 
    • Add any expression, and tell the bot what to do. The bot will understand everything you teach it, along with similar requests, and can respond with text, random responses, multimedia, and more.
  • View message history:
    • Save all the messages you've sent to users and check their performance.

7. RooBot is offering a 60-day free trial for Commerce Cloud customers just in time for the holidays! Thanks so much. Tell us about the free trial—-how our customers can take advantage of it and how it can help them sell this holiday season.

We are excited about our Oracle Commerce launch, and we wanted to kick it off by providing a free 60-day trial. Here’s what retailers will get as part of the trial:

  • Smartbot: Launch a basic Smartbot (with a merchant's full product catalog included) in 15 minutes or less.  
  • Customization: Get a fully-customized Smartbot to match the look and feel of their brand. We will offer this for free during the trial and can deliver this in two business days.
  • Marketing: A “Smartbot Marketing Guide” will be provided, as well as a strategy call with our Marketing Team to provide suggestions for maximum reach during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Retailers need this solution to compete with Amazon Alexa and drive voice and chat enabled social commerce. Get your retailer clients setup with a Free Trial of RooBot today! 

For more information about RooBot’s prebuilt Oracle Commerce Cloud integration, take a look at RooBot’s Marketplace listing or reach out to Laurence Marks, the CEO of RooBot directly here.

Check out our other Get to Know interviews with Oracle Commerce Cloud partners and find out more about other great solutions that help our merchants sell more effectively.

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