Many store owners struggle to keep up with everything from inventory management to customer service.
But what if there was a way to let a computer do the work for you?
In this article, we'll dive into virtual shopping assistants, which are digital tools designed to assist online store visitors.
Specifically, we'll focus on those powered by artificial intelligence, often referred to as AI shopping assistants.
Read on to learn more!
What is a virtual shopping assistant?
A virtual shopping assistant is a software designed to interact with the visitors of an ecommerce store to provide information and recommendations.
Today, most virtual shopping assistants are powered by AI and are therefore referred to as AI shopping assistants.
Most AI shopping assistants for ecommerce stores are developed in the form of chatbots.
By asking questions and providing personalized recommendations, a chatbot can help shoppers find the right product for their needs.
It can also provide information about product availability, shipping times, return policies, and more!
Here is an excellent example of an AI shopping assistant from Certainly:
However, a virtual shopping assistant doesn't always have to use AI.
In fact, it can be any software that is designed to provide a convenient and efficient shopping experience for your visitors.
For example, a virtual shopping assistant can also answer questions or offer suggestions in the form of a quiz or an upsell popup!
What can a virtual shopping assistant do?
By mimicking human conversation and using natural language processing, AI shopping assistants can provide an engaging and personal shopping experience for each store visitor.
They do that by providing information or making suggestions, mainly in the following forms:
- Answer customer questions. Answering questions is likely the most popular task of a virtual shopping assistant. They are especially good at answering frequently asked questions.
- Provide product recommendations. AI shopping assistants can get to know your visitors by asking them questions. Based on the answers, they can recommend a product that fits the visitor's needs. This is often combined with a discount offer!
- Place orders. Some virtual shopping assistants not only give product recommendations but can proceed to order that product for the customer.
- Track packages. Several virtual shopping assistants can be integrated with order-tracking apps to give customers information about the status of their packages.
- Return or refund items. A virtual shopping assistant can give your customers a more personalized return or refund experience by guiding them through the process step by step!
Are AI shopping assistants better than traditional helpdesks?
In 2023, many businesses turn to AI shopping assistants to help their customers with questions and orders.
However, as an ecommerce store owner, you're likely left with one main question that's keeping you waiting:
Are these digital helpers really better than traditional helpdesks?
Overall, AI shopping assistants are better than traditional helpdesks because they are cheaper, available 24/7, and can provide good answers to frequently asked questions. However, it's essential to be aware of their most significant limitation, which is that they can't give the same depth of knowledge as a human representative.
For these reasons, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of using a virtual assistant before implementing one in your ecommerce store.
Let's check them out!
Pros of an AI shopping assistant
- Available 24/7. Unlike human customer service representatives, which can only be accessed during certain hours, AI shopping assistants are available 24/7. This means that customers can get help with shopping anytime, day or night.
- Automate repetitive tasks. AI shopping assistants can save time and money by automating repetitive tasks such as order tracking and product recommendations.
- Cheaper. According to VentureBeat, AI assistants can reduce customer service costs by up to 30%!
- Handle a large volume of inquiries at once. When an ecommerce store uses virtual shopping assistants, there is never a need to wait for a representative.
- Personalized recommendations. AI shopping assistants can remember a customer’s preferences. As such, they can provide personalized advice and information based on the customer’s needs.
Cons of an AI shopping assistant
- Not the same level of detail or depth of knowledge as a human. Virtual shopping assistants often cannot provide more complex help or answer more difficult questions. AI shopping assistants do better, but it's still not as good as humans.
- It can give customers the impression that they're speaking to a real person. An AI shopping assistant may fail to understand a visitor's question or provide inaccurate information, leading to frustration. Sometimes, customers may become so frustrated that they abandon their purchase altogether.
- Requires ongoing maintenance and updates. A virtual shopping assistant requires updates to keep up with changes in product offerings, shipping times, and pricing. If an AI chatbot is not maintained, it can quickly become out-of-date and become less effective at assisting customers.
The 6 best AI shopping assistants for ecommerce stores
As you can see, AI shopping assistants have pros and cons, so each ecommerce store owner must decide for themselves whether or not they want to use them.
However, if you are willing to try virtual shopping assistants, it's better to choose one of the best and maximize your chances of a positive experience, right?
So, with that in mind, let's take a look at some of the best AI shopping assistants!
If we had to pick one AI shopping assistant that would be a great addition to any ecommerce store, it would be Tidio.
Tidio's Lyro AI chatbot offers loads of features (which we will get to in a moment!).
And it's designed to seamlessly integrate with various popular ecommerce platforms!
As said, Tidio's chatbot offers many useful features. Let's give you a rundown of what it can do:
- Give a discount for new or returning visitors. With completely personalizable messages!
- Recommend products. In case a customer isn't sure what they want or what's right for them.
- Prevent abandoned carts. For example, by offering customers a discount before they leave.
- Place orders for your customers. This is possible directly in the widget of Tidio's chatbot!
- Upsell customers. One way of doing this is by offering free shipping on orders over a certain amount.
- Generate leads. By asking your visitors for their email or phone number.
- Handle returns. All automated. Doesn't that sound good?
- Provide info on order statuses. If you're an ecommerce store owner, you will know how often this question is asked!
- Answer questions. Give automated answers to repetitive questions, even related to things like your shipping policy.
That's quite an impressive list, right?
You can see some more examples of these features below:
In short, Tidio offers all the features you would want in a virtual shopping assistant chatbot!
Tidio's chatbot can be used for free for up to 100 monthly users.
The paid plans range from $25 to $394 per month:
Plus, the Lyro AI chatbot is available as an add-on that starts at $39 for 50 conversations:
How do you connect Tidio to your ecommerce store?
If you would like to try Tidio's chatbot, the first step would be to connect it to your ecommerce store.
Luckily, Tidio offers lots of seamless integrations for this!
To connect Tidio to your ecommerce store, you can simply follow the steps required for your specific ecommerce, social media, or any other platform. You can find these steps on Tidio's integration page here.
Tidio offers integrations for all major ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.
For example, they developed an app for Shopify stores:
Certainly is another promising AI shopping assistant in the form of a conversational chatbot for ecommerce stores.
Like Tidio, Certainly offers a lot of awesome features. For example, it can place orders for customers, give them discounts, and answer questions regarding their order status.
Certainly even claims that their virtual shopping assistant can increase your average order value by 20%:
Unfortunately, Certainly doesn't give an indication of their pricing plans. The idea is that you get in touch with them so that they can make you an offer:
How do you connect Certainly to your ecommerce store?
Luckily, Certainly does well with its integrations, as the service can be integrated with various platforms, CRMs, and third-party tools.
Of course, that includes popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce!
3. Octane AI
Let's continue with another AI shopping assistant.
But this time, it's not a chatbot.
Say hi to Octane, an AI-based quiz platform!
Octane AI is different from other quiz platforms because it can target quizzes to specific visitors, collect data, and personalize each quiz to ask the right questions for each visitor.
In short, you can use Octane AI's quiz to increase revenue, collect emails, and even reduce return rates by recommending the right products to customers.
A downside of Octane AI is that its quizzes are pretty pricey, starting at $50 per month:
However, if you're running a successful ecommerce store, it may be well worth it! (Also, considering they receive an average review score of 4.8/5 on the Shopify app store.)
How do you connect Octane AI to your ecommerce store?
You may have already seen that Octane AI is only available for Shopify stores.
So, to connect Octane AI with your Shopify store, you can simply install their Shopify app here:
Chatfuel is another great AI shopping assistant that can (partly) automate your customer service on Facebook, Instagram, and your website.
Chatfuel also offers a number of templates that can help you get even more out of it. Think about generating leads, answering FAQs, and collecting user feedback!
The great thing about Chatfuel is that they offer pricing plans that are accessible to almost anyone.
For instance, you can get their full-featured Facebook + Instagram bot for up to 50 conversations for free, and 500 monthly conversations cost just $14.99 per month:
How do you connect Chatfuel to your ecommerce store?
If you want to try Chatfuel, it's best to connect it to your Facebook or Instagram page first.
Then, you can put a Facebook Messenger popup on your website as well:
Gobot is an AI shopping assistant with a unique selling proposition.
It's a chatbot and quiz in one!
Besides the typical virtual shopping assistant tasks, Gobot can also do things like personalizing your website's content based on your customer's needs.
For example, it can put a ‘For You' tag on products that it chooses itself:
Gobot is free to install and use for your first 5,000 engagements. After that, you will have to contact them for a pricing quote.
How do you connect Gobot to your ecommerce store?
You can only directly connect Gobot to a Shopify store using their Shopify app:
However, they also integrate with many existing helpdesks and apps like Zendesk, Salesforce, and Gorgias!
6. Relish AI
Relish AI is the final AI shopping assistant on today's list.
Like Gobot, it's both a chatbot and a quiz in one!
As for the other virtual assistant apps on this list, you can use Relish AI to automate your customer support and be there for your customers 24/7:
Relish AI's pricing plans start at $29 per month for up to 5,000 monthly visitors and go up to $599 per month for the enterprise plan:
How do you connect Relish AI to your ecommerce store?
A direct connection with Relish AI is currently only available for Shopify stores.
That means you can connect Relish AI to your Shopify store using their Shopify app:
FAQs about virtual shopping assistants
Any questions left about virtual shopping assistants? No worries, just check out these FAQs or leave a comment at the end of this article:
What are virtual shopping assistants used for?
Virtual shopping assistants are used in ecommerce stores to improve the visitor's shopping experience. You can use them to answer questions, provide customer support, and recommend products.
Are virtual shopping assistants free?
You can use some virtual shopping assistants for free, but almost all require a paid monthly subscription for more intense usage.
Do I need to know coding to add a virtual shopping assistant to my store?
No, you do not need to know coding to add a virtual assistant to your store. Most virtual shopping assistant apps operate on a ‘No-code' basis, which means you can set them up using user-friendly visual interfaces.
Which businesses should use virtual shopping assistants?
All ecommerce businesses, except ones that already offer 24/7 customer service, can use virtual shopping assistants to enhance the shopping experience of their visitors. Even if you only turn them on part-time!
How do I add a virtual shopping assistant to my ecommerce store?
You can add a virtual shopping assistant to your ecommerce store by picking one that is compatible with your platform and following the steps to connect it to your website.
Before we go to the final verdict, we've created a quick summary of this article for you, so you can easily remember it:
- An AI shopping assistant is an AI-based software designed to interact with your store's visitors to provide information and recommendations.
- Pros of AI shopping assistants include that they're available 24/7, are cheap to run, and allow you to automate repetitive tasks.
- Cons of AI shopping assistants include that they have trouble handling complex questions and can frustrate customers if they give inaccurate information.
- Some of the best AI shopping assistants for ecommerce stores are Tidio, Certainly, and Octane AI.
Virtual shopping assistants are becoming more and more popular in ecommerce stores.
That's mainly because there are many benefits to using them, including the ability to provide 24/7 customer service, the ability to handle large volumes of customer inquiries, and the ability to resolve common customer issues quickly and easily.
However, there are also some potential disadvantages to using virtual shopping assistants, such as the risk of losing the human touch and the potential for customers to become frustrated with the technology if it's not used correctly.
Overall, we think AI shopping assistants can be a valuable tool for ecommerce stores. Still, it's important to be aware of their pros and cons before deciding to implement this technology.
Good luck with your decision, and have a great rest of your day!
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