Maaz Ansari, Co-Founder and CEO, ORI

Maaz is the CEO and Co-founder of ORI and leads the business and strategy at ORI. Before co-founding ORI, he has helmed Equity research for a boutique advisory brokerage firm and led pre-sales for applied data science products at Fractal Analytics. He has also worked with 3 other start-ups in various capacities.


“I think you should team up your purple top with beige paperback trousers, brown pumps, and a tote bag,” replies Ori while showing them pictures of the same. “Looks great, thanks,” says Nida.

“Do you want me to add the other three items to the cart along with the existing purple top?” asks Ori.

“As fast as you can,” confirms an excited Nida before adding, “Anything else?”

“Of course, these brilliant danglers and this jacket in size M will go perfectly with the look,” responds Ori.

“Whaaaaat! I was looking for this Hannah Montana jacket for ages. Love you for this, XOXO,” says Nida with a smile on her face.

No matter how familiar the rapport may sound to you, the above conversation is not happening between two BFFs. It is an excerpt from customer-chatbot interaction over Whatsapp. And yes, the cross-selling is just a glimpse of the possibilities you have with cognitive bots.

Speed, Scale, Simplified: The Curious Case of App-bot Integration

We all have some experience with the chatbots while ordering food or raising refunds on leading eCommerce platforms. But their new integration with the popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger is what is redefining the online shopping experience for shoppers.

Credit the cut-throat competition the eCommerce industry currently faces, the market players are rummaging through every possible element to enhance customer experience on their platforms. And you couldn’t agree more with the union of messaging apps and chatbots, as these top three messaging apps alone account for more than four billion active users per month. Hence it makes complete sense for eCommerce brands to use popular messaging apps to interact with new and old customers – since that is where customers spend their time.

But as every marketing book and marketing professional says, you cannot deliver a perfect experience until you understand the requirements of your audience. Right? This is exactly where cognitive virtual assistants or chatbots enter the picture.

Well-crafted and designed, intuitive chatbots can assimilate large amounts of information and data and give insights on shopping patterns. This coupled with deep machine learning capabilities enables them to understand and pre-empt what the consumer generally likes or might fancy. This makes cognitive bots the best bet in customer acquisition and retention by predicting precisely what the customer is seeking and proactively suggesting options basis the customer’s likes, interests, and profile. So, don’t get surprised if your eCommerce chatbot suggests the right apparel size or displays your most preferred hue of blue for you. It lovingly maintains a database of all things you adore and may want in the future, on the basis of your previous purchases and wish lists, just like your true fan.

Cognitive bots ease customer-platform communication in a myriad of ways. Here’s a sneak peek:

Customer Acquisition

Instead of wandering through different web pages to know about a product or service, sellers can redirect customers to a WhatsApp chatbot to ease the process. This not only simplifies the access to information at a single point but also makes the entire experience personalized for the consumer as if discussing the product with a friend.

This also can considerably accelerate the information gathering phase for the customer, when compared to a user filling up a lead form and waiting for a sales rep or a customer service rep to get back to them.

We have seen this work really well for complex products and services such as financial products, automobiles with multiple versions and varieties, consumer durables, etc. – helping the brand quickly move the consumer along the funnel from awareness to consideration to purchase.

Accelerate Sales

Everyone loves discount coupons hands down. But we hate to recall going through the irritating email verifications and to and fro between email and the website. Chatbots are a one-stop-solution for this.

Sellers can offer discount or promotional codes right within the eCommerce bot whenever a customer joins the conversation through a landing page or an advertisement.

Smart conversational marketing technologies enable a chatbot on the advertisement itself – where a consumer clicks on the ad, and a chatbot opens up right there, on that very ad. No page load waiting times or redirecting to another page needed.

Improves Personalization For User Interaction

In most cases, if it’s a returning user, the bot would have a personal profile of the user such as name, age, gender, country, etc. along with contextual information such as past purchases, previous queries and questions asked, and previous interactions when he joins the conversation. Based on this information, a chatbot can serve hyper-personalized suggestions in the conversation. For example, if the customer has been talking about his interests lately, the chatbot can recommend products based on that data which could be a vacation site or the tickets to an upcoming concert, etc.

A use case in personalization comes from the automobile industry for the launch of a new vehicle. An Indian 4-wheeler manufacturer developed a cognitive voice bot that was able to capture user attributes such as hobbies, favorite color, family or single, likes music or no and map this to car features and segments – creating a powerful and enriched CRM for the brand.

Multilingual Support

Native language appeals the most if you want to strike the right chord during a conversation. With 185 countries in the world, it is practically impossible for any brand to hire an executive who is a pro in all the languages. Here NLP-driven chatbots can make a difference. They not only serve in different languages and dialects but also constantly learn from the user responses, understanding gestures, emotions, tones, and lexicon common to a particular region to offer similar human-like conversations. This adds a touch of familiarity while strengthening the brand’s image in the customer’s mind.

We saw this in action with one of the telecom giants. The company had initially implemented only English and Hindi languages on the bot. But, with continuous learning and insights, the bot realized that a large number of users preferred to speak in Hinglish. Since then, the cognitive assistants were also capable of conversing in Hinglish, switching between languages midway through the conversation.

Conduct Surveys for Better Understanding

Quizzes and surveys are an important tool to collect important data on customers. Sellers can leverage messaging bots to conduct several quizzes to zero-in on what the user likes.

The best part is, that these surveys do not need to feel like surveys. Through Conversational bots, these surveys or quizzes feel like a conversation – making the user comfortable in responding to queries and helping the brand collect relevant and contextual information too.

This information can be used to create enhanced buyer personas and enrich the CRM, which can be utilized to offer better personalization and also re-target potential customers.

Automate Customer Support for Queries

We often fumingly disconnect the call if not served within the first five minutes of checking the product. Our next step is often negative reviews and escalation, which affects brand image. Moreover, calls are often time- and energy-consuming as the user may have to repeat the query again and again to multiple agents. Chatbots come as a speedy and time-efficient resolution to this dilemma. It picks up the query form where the conversation was left anytime and anywhere.

Clears Abandoned Carts

There have been numerous cases wherein users leave their carts with products stacked in and discard the same on the next visit. Over 75% of the customers do the same without even noticing what’s inside the cart. Though reminders via email may help resolve the issue but frankly, how many of us open such emails. On the other hand, 90% of such messages via chatbots are opened daily, paving far better chances for a purchase.

Easy Order Management

Queries for exchange, returns, refunds, order status keeps the call centers flooded with work during work hours. The sheer volume of such queries makes it difficult to efficiently serve all the customers 24X7. Chatbots converge details of such otherwise scattered information on a single messaging application. And because most of such apps come with end-to-end encryption, receipts regarding transactions and confirmations can also be sent through chats.

As humans, we are always inclined towards services that are hassle-free and simplify the task for us in some way. Moreover, we tend to prefer those who understand us and make an effort to assess what we may need in the future before we even speak of it. In short, someone, almost with the smartness of AI but not plain vanilla robotic. And this exactly what buddies do, give suggestions, lend continuous support, and speak what you speak, be it English, Hindi, or Prada; a big reason why Conversational AI is taking the eCommerce market by storm.

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