Consumer retail spending via chatbots is expected to reach $142 billion by 2024, an increase from $2.8 billion in 2019, a report from Juniper Research estimates. Chatbot technology saved companies an estimated $164 million in 2019, according to the report.
Per the report, retailers saved the least from chatbot technologies. The banking sector had the highest share of total market savings (77%), followed by healthcare (19%).
Forty-eight percent of users access chatbots via messaging platforms and 43% through websites, but only 9% of them access the technology via discrete applications. However, 80% of global consumer spend by 2024 via chatbot is expected to take place via discrete chatbots — meaning tech embedded directly into a retailer's mobile app rather than accessed through a browser or messenger.
Juniper's report suggests that chatbots can help shoppers with various tasks by acting as a first point of contact, including answering customer service inquiries, recommending products and even taking payments.
Chatbot technologies could also potentially reduce costs by minimizing the number of customer service representatives and shrinking overhead. The report also asserts that the banking sector, which also has high customer service costs, has tapped into chatbots to save on the wage costs associated with hosting customer service representatives in native call centers, a method used to increase customer loyalty.
Still, it's not clear whether consumers are fond of chatbots. According to a 2019 survey by Drift and SurveyMonkey, 39% of respondents said they had a good experience with an online chat platform, but only 16% said the same for chatbots. In fact, a YouGov-commissioned survey found that 26% of consumers think augmented reality made them consider a brand to be tech savvy, compared to 6% of respondents who said the same for chatbots.
As retailers begin experimenting with chatbots, some, such as Ulta and David's Bridal, have tapped into the technology to address customer service queries. Additionally, Square announced in May 2019 that it had acquired eloquent labs, an artificial intelligence company which automates responses to consumer questions and feedback.
Juniper's report also predicts that retailers will move toward discrete chatbots, integrated in retailers' mobile apps, instead of browsers or messaging apps, because this will allow them to control development and retain branding.