Chat and Voicebots Solutions in Online Grocery Delivery

Rafal Cymerys

Mon, May 11, 2020

Ordering groceries online has been trending in Europe for a few years now, with 25% of total orders sales from online channels in 2018. The US followed, with Walmart and Amazon introducing online grocery delivery gaining relevant traction.

Recent weeks have shown that it's no longer a matter of convenience, but it can be critical for both people following the Stay at Home order to sustain and businesses to thrive.

Besides huge retailers, more mid-sized businesses join the grocery delivery market, as for some it is the only way to reach their customers during lockdown.

However, running a successful online delivery service is not as easy at it seems. It requires a combination of multiple technological solutions.

For the web storefront there are plenty of solutions that can be adapted for certain needs. In our experiences Spree performs really well in scenarios that require high degree of customization.

Besides an e-commerce platform, other tools will come in handy as well. Let's take a look how conversational AI tools can help a grocery delivery business.

Use Cases for Chatbots and Voice

Customer Support Scenarios

With huge amount of orders, keeping up with customer support gets challenging. Our experiences show that over 70% of contacts via chat or phone call are related to issues that could be solved automatically. It happens quite often that even though certain action or information is available via apps, customers miss it and therefore reach out to support.

Common scenarios include:

  • Delivery status - this is often a matter of a single lookup. Very often, we may expect
  • Returns
  • Reporting issues with order

These scenarios can easily be automated by using chat- and voice-bots.

Using Chatbots and Voicebots in Grocery Delivery

The remaining 30% can be passed over to a human. With the right integration, the bot can capture relevant information about the customer and their problem, to reduce the amount of time an agent spends on it. This way well trained customer support employees can focus on what they do best - solving difficult problems.

Performing Agent Handoff for Complex Questions

For large companies, with use of Natural Language Processing, it's also possible to direct requests to a specialized agent. This not only makes contact center operations more efficient, but also lets them achieve faster response times by reducing the amount of agent transfers.

More Accessible Ordering

While e-commerce used to be a convenience, in certain places it's now a necessity. In some African countries it even lets people survive during lockdown.

While designing such services, we need to be careful not to exclude some customers. Certain demographics may not have an easy access to the web. For example, in Western markets you'll find a lot of simple phones designed especially for seniors - with large keypads and long battery life. In emerging markets feature phones still account for majority of the phones.

Still, these customers may need grocery delivery even more than others.

Handling phone orders manually won't scale well and will quickly become the main bottleneck for the business, especially in times of high demand for the service.

The easiest way to overcome these obstacles is to build an automated SMS service for ordering. A chatbot operating this service can collect order sent in text messages and pass it to the e-commerce system, just like any other order.

Using WhatsApp and SMS for Grocery Delivery

There are of course design problems that require careful thought. When ordering via a chat, customers won't usually pick the exact product from the store. Rather than "Danone Plain Yoghurt", they'll most often just ask for "yoghurt". To deliver the best experience and avoid returns, it's worth considering to implement additional scenarios to clarify ambiguities. If possible, even the simplest personalization system will vastly improve the experience. For example, if a customer has prior orders with "Danone Plan Yoghurt", the service can automatically suggest it when asked for a "yoghurt".

Keeping Customers Engaged by Offering Convenience

Online grocery delivery is here to stay. Increased demand during the lockdown will definitely make the market more competitive than ever. Besides delivering a great experience, it's also important to start designing solutions that will deliver them convenience in the future.

Last year, we presented a demo of such solution during Samsung Developer Conference in San Jose, CA.

The rise of voice-enabled consumer devices, like for example smartspeakers or smartfridges, open a whole new world of possibilities. They allow businesses to keep customers engaged even outside of the usual digital experiences.

Imagine you open your fridge and you realize you're running out of milk. In the past, you'd most likely write it down on a shopping list. Currently, there's an increasing amount of digital shopping lists app. They often aim to convert customers to an online grocery delivery experience. The major issue is that reaching out for a smartphone is not always convenient. Because of that, majority of customers still create a handwritten shopping list, only to order it later online.

The "always-in" nature of voice experiences allow to perform such actions without the friction of reaching out for a device.

The product we presented enables customers to build their shopping lists with voice (using their smartspeaker that's commonly in the kitchen or even a smartfridge). The experience can then be continued in mobile app, where at the end of the week customers can review their order, make necessary adjustments and finalize the transaction.

By capturing their attention early on, we ensure they won't use competitors service.

Summary

Thought-through chatbots and voicebots can vastly improve the customer experience in rapidly growing grocery delivery business. They can help reduce strain on the customer support department and make ordering available to customers who would be otherwise excluded.

While implementing them in your business, be careful as details make a huge difference. Make sure that the service fully leverages possible integrations and that the bot experience is aligned with the overall customer journey.

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