Why Chatbots Are Dangerous Territory For Retailers

by MR Magazine Staff

Chatbots are getting a lot of attention in retail these days. At the NRF Big Show in January, several vendors, startups and established alike, featured chatbots in their booths at the show. They could do everything from interact with you about new products and what you liked about them, to help you figure out the opening hours of your local store. You can order a pizza via a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, and several retailers are experimenting with chatbots around common customer service inquiries such as “What should I buy?” With a little rigging, you can set up Alexa to order your favorite drink for you at Starbucks. And yes, I count Alexa as a chatbot: a natural language interface, whether text or voice, and some artificial intelligence and a lot of computing power behind it to identify the most likely “best” response in an interaction. I get it. I do. There are a lot of questions that consumers ask, like “What time does your store open?” that rudimentary natural language processing should be able to handle. It would satisfy both the customer and the retailer – the customer, who gets an answer quickly and simply, and the retailer, who doesn’t have to have someone available to answer that same question over and over again day in and day out. Everyone wins. But there are three things that retailers need to watch out for when using chatbots, or they will find themselves in dangerous territory. Read more at Forbes.