Chatbots have great promise to improve the retail customer experience whilst reducing effort and cost. However, as this article argues, a properly defined use case and customer journey is required, in order to simplify not confuse.

There are some useful examples of success starting to emerge, both in the sales and service arenas. Uniqlo is a good example of this in the US (Uniqlo IQ) which enables customers to shop within Messenger.

As of March 2017, there were 500,000 bots in operation, and 7 billion interactions had taken place. Facebook, Skype, Slack and many others are seeing rapid adoption of their APIs.

everis have built an enterprise bot framework to help clients quickly start and rampup their conversational services. This includes a model to enable retailers to define their strategy, understand the customer journey, and then design & implement the bot. This is based on an open architecture, which includes prebuilt integration to the common channels (such as Facebook Messenger), connectors to back end systems, integration to advanced analytics (including API.AI, IBM Watson, Microsoft’s LUIS and everis's NPL and cognitive services) and a robust security model.

This framework natively provides the following features to enable a quick start with deploying virtual assistants, automated service, or conversational commerce:-

• Text messages 

• Voices messages 

• Intent recognition 

• Multi-language 

• Outbound messaging 

• Fast payment 

• Geo-location 

• Media

If you are interested in understanding how chatbots can help power your customer experience, and want to work with a nice, experienced and economical partner, ask everis.

Of course, if you find this all too much, you can always check out Woebot, Stanford University's bot therapist. He's open 24x7, and his first sessions are free.