E-commerce platform Shopify on Wednesday introduced a chatbot, called Shopify Chat, which allows businesses to have real-time conversations with consumers visiting their stores. The technology, which is available on all browsers and operating systems, lets customers ask product questions, request order status updates, and obtain discount codes, according to a company press release.
The rollout of Shopify Chat comes after the company launched Shopify Ping last year, a mobile app which houses retailers' client conversations in a central location. Shopify Chat is another function within Shopify Ping, and the chatbot is customizable to each business, the company said.
The feature appears to be aimed at boosting consumer engagement. According to the company's website, 50% of online shoppers prefer to chat with a retailer, and shoppers who talk with a brand are three times more likely to buy something.
The introduction of Shopify's chatbot feature can level the playing field between major retailers and up-and-coming businesses. Major retailers and brands like Louis Vuitton and eBay have introduced chatbots into their operations. Facebook has long invested in chatbots via Facebook Messenger, and many brands and retailers followed suit afterward.
A 2018 report from Juniper Research found that chatbots could bring in $112 billion by 2023 in online sales thanks to cost savings, upselling, marketing and cart recovery. But as retailers invest in chatbot technology, they'll need to keep in mind whether it's an effective tool. Though Shopify boasts that shoppers like engaging via chat, previous research from Drift and SurveyMonkey found that younger consumers may be more willing to engage with the technology, with 35% of consumers ages 18 to 24 stating they had used chatbots.
It's also important for retailers to remember consumers' expectations of chatbots. Drift and SurveyMonkey's research also found that 42% of survey respondents expect faster replies from chatbots than other communication channels.