Should Retailers Invest in Chatbots?

The idea of a chatbot is kind of creepy when you really think about it. Its a computer that you can have a real conversation with in real time without actually seeing them. Although its a creepy concept, now a days if you don’t have a chatbot on your site, it could actually hurt you. 

What exactly is a chatbot? According to Webopedia.com, a chatbot is:

“a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet”

Its becoming apparent that this generation wants to avoid actual human contact (phone calls, in person, etc) at all costs. I say this because in a study recently conducted that surveyed over 1,000 people showed that chatbots surpassed phone calls and emails as the most popular form of communication. 

Image result for chatbots website

To put it more in perspective, here are some stats from Eweek.com when it comes to the emergence of chatbots:

1. Nearly one-third of consumers (28.9 percent) prefer chat tools over phone (28.7 percent) or email (27 percent) for interacting with retailers (jumping to 37 percent for millennials)

2. Two out of 5 consumers are open to interacting with a chatbot in a retail scenario.

3. Nine percent of millennials prefer to always interact with a robot instead of a human.

4. Nearly 40 percent of millennials are open to interacting with a company through a messaging app

5. One in 5 consumers are most excited to receive instant order updates via a messaging app, over receiving other retail tech offerings, such as immersive virtual experiences and drone delivery

Image result for chatbot screenshot

I don’t know whether I think these stats are really cool or kind of sad. I guess personally I don’t mind interacting with humans but it seems that others would really rather not! They are great for quick and fast responses though don’t get me wrong.

What do you think? Do you like when sites have chatbots? Let me know in the comments!

The Top 10 Online Retailers!

The total sales from e-commerce retailers is growing at a substantial rate each year. If the current trends continue, they will continue to raise by 10%-12%. 

Below is a list of the top 10 e-commerce companies today. There is no surprise that amazon ranks in as #1. Total annual revenue from all e-commerce retailers comes out to $201 billion. By looking at this chart you can see what an impact just these top 10 companies are having on the economy.

Company: E-commerce Sales(in U.S. millions): E-commerce Share of Total Sales:
1. Amazon.com $79,268 74.1%
2. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $13,484 2.8%
3. Apple $12,000 5.1%
4. Staples $10,700 55.5%
5. Macy’s $4,829 17.5%
6. The Home Depot $4,267 5.0%
7. Best Buy $3,780 9.4%
8. QVC $3,722 42.7%
9. Costco Wholesale $3,618 3.1%
10. Nordstrom $2,699 18.9%

It is interesting to see that all of these stores are also brick and mortar stores. Referring back to my old post, maybe it is beneficial for strictly online retailers to make the move to a physical location.

“In a recent Think Tank column in WWD, Jordy Leiser, cofounder and chief executive officer of StellaService, said omnichannel investments are worthwhile “since brick-and-mortar retailers are taking the idea of convenience to a new level. In fact, the key to the survival of traditional retail is using the one weapon that online-only models don’t have: a network of existing stores.”” – WWD

Are there any stores in the top 10 that you are surprised to see? Any stores you thought would make the list? Let  me know in the comments!

 

Should Online Retailers Add Brick & Mortar Stores?

Today we are seeing tons of traditional brick and mortar stores close locations all over the US such as Gap and Macys. With this happening, you would think online stores would stick to that channel since its been working great for them. Wrong. Online retailers are starting to make their way into our shopping malls.

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This next step in an online retailers journey is a unique move that could change our shopping malls forever. Unlike other brick and mortar stores that start their brand from there, these brands have established their brand and customer following online so this sort of reverse process is a way to grow their followers even more.

Some strictly online retailers we are seeing do this is Amazon, Fabletics, Birchbox, NastyGal and Missguided. As more of these online retailers emerge as brick and mortar stores, I am excited to see how they do!

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What online retailer would you like to see also open up a brick and mortar location? Do you think its a good idea? Let me know in the comments!

Trends That are Helping Online Retailers

Ecommerce is growing exponentially.

“As per a recent market forecast, the ecommerce sales in USA alone could surpass $550 billion by the end of the year.”

One can’t help but wonder, what is leading to this growth?

  1. MOBILE (smartphone) DEVICES- Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have probably noticed that everyone and their grandma (literally) has a smart phone. People can literally shop wherever they want without a computer and this convenience is definitely the reason for the crazy growth. Retailers are using this to this advantage and making their sites mobile friendly or even making an app. Forever 21, Amazon, Ebay and so many more are stores we can see doing this.

forever21app

2. Fast and Easy- This is the reason that speaks to me the most. The number 1 thing I love about shopping online on how EASY it is. More specifically, I love how these sites remember by information so when I go to check out, I literally have to click 2 buttons. For example, Amazon will save all your info (shipping/billing address, card info) and they provide a button on a product that says “1 click buy” and when you click it the purchase is complete. Some people may not like this but it is a contributor to the growth.

3. Customer Centric– Since there are so many online users, its important to make the experience easy to navigate as well as customer friendly. If this is the main way people are going to be shopping, a retailer needs to make the tiny webpage feel like a real store as much as possible.

4. Real Time Stats- The analytics that these websites receive are not only to provide them data on their site, but it gives them real time information that is very useful. Being able to get stats basically overnight allows retailers to fix issues and bugs VERY quickly and respond to their customers wants and needs at a drop of a hat.

Are there any other reasons you think could be driving this growth? Let me know in the comments!

Should Your Online Site Have a Blog?

Since starting this blog, I am starting to understand and see the importance of how powerful blogging could be. After doing some research, I am also learning how valuable a blog could be for an online retailer. When I think of a blog, I think of someone talking about their opinions and likes/interests, so I never thought an online site could really benefit. Here is why I have switched sides and why I truly believe every online retailing site should have a blog!

  1. Blogs will help you rank in a search engine and gain you traffic
  2. Blogs could be a great marketing platform for your brand
  3. Blogs will spread the word about your brand/product/company

 

Some blogs that have stuck out to me are

  1. Topshopscreen-shot-2015-02-14-at-02-50-05-20hyy5s
  2. Lush blog-hd
  3. North Face 

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Obviously there are hundreds more, but these were some I came across and really liked and thought were effective.

What do you think about online retailers using blogs? Do you think it is effective?

Cyber Monday 2016 Predictions

For those of you living under a rock, Cyber Monday is an expression used in online retailing to describe the Monday following U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Similar to Black Friday, (the unofficial start of the holiday season for offline businesses), online retailers will usually offer special promotions on this day. – Cyber Monday Definition | Investopedia

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner (I am SO excited), I wanted to take a look at how Cyber Monday has progressed since it came about a little over 10 years ago. 

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It is no surprise that every year sales go up during Cyber Monday. With the way e-commerce is evolving, I predict these numbers keep on inclining. Some of the sites that are the most popular on this holiday are Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Amazon, Kohls, Macys and Old  Navy (BlackFriday.com).With the growing popularity, these stores among others are looking to get ahead for 2016 Cyber Monday.

Its becoming normal for stores to start their deals before actual Cyber Monday. This could be up to a week in advance. Cyber Monday would of course be the day with the best deals, while the other days are leading up to the main event.

Also, Cyber Monday is becoming more mobile friendly.More people are starting to shop straight from their phone!

“Mobile traffic made up 49% of all Cyber Monday traffic in 2015. According to Adobe, smartphones drove 38% of Cyber Monday traffic in 2015, while tablets accounted for 11%. As for online sales, tablets drove 11% of all online sales and smartphones accounted for 17%.”

huge-best-cyber-monday-deals-2014-sales

 

Are you excited for Cyber Monday? Are there specific sites you plan on shopping on? Let me know in your comments!

E-Commerce No No’s – What not to do

When it comes to E-commerce and online retailers, I have talked a lot about how great they are and what they do that works. In today’s blog, I thought it would be interesting to talk about some E-commerce no no’s. When I online shop, I personally judge the retailer on three category’s:

  • website design
  • the checkout
  • the overall experience. 

 

Website Design- 

I feel like website design is one of the most important characteristics of any website. Its the first thing someone sees and could ultimate be the reason why they decide to stay or leave. Here are some things I think online retailers should avoid:

  1. The page is way too busy and not organized. If I cant see what I need right away or don’t even know how to navigate through the site, I will probably X out of the page.
  2. The graphics and pictures are low quality. If the picture is low quality, that kind of just sets the tone of the whole retailer. If the graphics and pics are low quality, there’s a greater chance that their products will be too.

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This screen shot is a perfect example of what a website layout SHOULDN’T look like

 

The Checkout

After I have gone through and filled up my cart, I expect the checkout experience to be pretty seamless and easy.

  1. If there is NO GUEST CHECKOUT, I lose it! I know I sound like a spoiled brat but if there is no guest checkout that means I have to go and sign up and take another 5-10 minutes signing up. I hate that and I am sure many others do too. I think its a great idea for a retailer to offer this option.
  2. Way too many steps in the checkout process is also something that will turn me off from a site. If I can just put my address in and credit card info and be done, I am a happy shopper.

 

The Overall Experience-

Now that I have browsed and probably made a purchase, I can analyze the experience of the website from start to finish.

  • Was it easy to find what I was looking for?
  • Were there help bots/customer service blurbs to answer my questions?
  • Were there annoying ads/pop ups interrupting my shopping?

These questions are what I personally ask myself when I analyze an online retailer as well as taking the other two above category’s into consideration.

Woman Shopping Online

What do you take into consideration when analyzing stores? Is there anything about a website that you absolutely hate? Let me know!

Referenced SweetToothRewards.com