More than 60% of U.S. consumers would feel comfortable talking with a chatbot, yet only 22% have engaged with a bot thus far, according to the 2017 Mobile Consumer Report from mobile engagement marketing firm Vibes.
Among other findings from the study, which surveyed more than 2,000 consumers nationwide: About 70% said they would have a more positive opinion of a brand that allowed them to save a plastic loyalty card in their smartphone, and more than a third store information from brands in mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Vibes also found that consumers carefully curate the number of brands that can deliver alerts to them on their smartphones, subscribing to four mobile alerts on average. About 50% of consumers say they are likely to sign up for mobile alerts from retailers, restaurants and brands.
Chatbots haven't been a retail reality for all that long, and only got a high-profile market boost from Facebook about one year ago. So, it's probably not fair to expect customers to actually seek out chatbots. The retail sector should just hope for them to be comfortable with a chatbot engagement when it eventually happens in a customer service situation, or perhaps when a consumer is in the market for a new shade of lipstick. Our guess is that 22% figure will tick upward soon.
One other finding from the study that could carry some major implications: Study participants do not feel that mobile apps are a highly effective in-store shopping companion. Specifically, after opening an app for information while shopping, only 19% of smartphone users report making an in-store purchase on that same trip at least half of the time.
This finding comes at a time when many retailers and other brands are trying very hard to ensure that their apps become just that — highly effective in-store shopping companions. But perhaps they shouldn't panic at the notion that consumers don't feel the apps are making the cut in that regard. It could actually be read as an endorsement of the effort retailers are making to make mobile apps the linchpins in omnichannel shopping strategies: Consumers want to see more integrated mobile and in-store shopping experiences, but they just don't feel the apps are there yet.
The findings having to do with mobile alerts also are pretty intriguing. The notion that consumers tightly control the number of alerts they subscribe to means that not all — or even very many — brands should expect to be able to connect with customers through alerts. And, if they try to make it happen, they might want to be careful that they don't alienate customers.