Chatbots have been around for a while now and Shopify merchants have been utilising them in various forms since robust integrations with the platform were developed. With the rise of conversational AI tools like ChatGPT, there is a renewed focus on how chatbot technology can be used to help improve customer experience on-site.
This is especially important as ecommerce companies on Shopify search for ways to improve efficiency in their business whilst simultaneously cutting costs.
Before we look at some of the best chatbot tools that integrate with Shopify, it's worth understanding what a chatbot is and some of the use cases for this technology.
What Is a Shopify Chatbot?
In essence, a chatbot is a computer program that is designed to simulate a conversation with human users. Chatbots can be integrated with various messaging platforms, mobile apps and websites, including Shopify, and are generally used to provide customer service, answer frequently asked questions, and automate repetitive tasks that take up your team’s time, but could easily be achieved with some basic automation. Depending on the technology, they can more often than not understand natural language inputs (humans asking questions in a very human way) and respond with pre-programmed or generated responses. This technology is set to improve exponentially in the coming years with tools like ChatGPT transforming the market, but it’s worth remembering, a chatbot is only as good as the programming and training that sits behind the front-end tool.
Chatbots can be powered by a variety of technologies, including machine learning, rule-based systems, and natural language processing.
What Are The Benefits of Using a Chatbot on Shopify?
As mentioned above, chatbots on Shopify usually take the form of a live chat widget that is programmed to answer frequently asked questions, support the customer service team and complete repetitive tasks such as answering questions about order updates and tracking information.
You should think of a basic chatbot as a more advanced and interactive version of your FAQ page. Rather than forcing users to read through a list of FAQs or search your website for answers, your chatbot can act as a hub of knowledge that is based on the data you hold on your website. Your users can ask questions in a natural way, as they would to a human customer service agent, and receive a response much more quickly than a human counterpart would be able to answer.
You may need to spend time “training” your chatbot and making sure it has access to all of the information it needs as well as the context of that information, but more often than not, this is taken care of by the technology provider and their integration with Shopify.
Are There Any Cons to Using a Chatbot On Your Shopify Store?
As with any technology, there are always risks and downsides that should be considered.
As mentioned above, your chatbot is only ever as good as the information it has access to. If you don’t give it quality data to work with, the output is likely to be poor.
The technology you choose is also a factor that can affect the quality of the chatbot experience. You need to make sure you choose a platform that goes beyond simple “if this, then that” scenarios and utilises Natural Language Processing to be able to answer similar questions that might be asked in a variety of different ways.
For example, a user may want to get information on delivery times. The variations on how these questions can be asked are vast.
- How long will it take for my order to arrive?
- What are your delivery times?
- When will my product arrive?
- I ordered [product name] from you. When will this be delivered?
Your chatbot should be able to understand that all of these questions will require slight variations on the same answer and also be able to deliver those answers in a natural way.
Aside from the technical challenges, one of the major problems we see with chatbots is how they are positioned to the user. In the early days of this technology, lots of brands didn’t specify to the user that they were communicating with a bot. When the bot failed to answer the question as expected or was unable to answer at all, this led to frustration and when the person inevitably spoke to a real customer service person, their brand experience was already tarnished.
It’s important that you don’t try to trick people into thinking they are speaking to a human. When a user understands they are talking to a chatbot, they will set their expectations accordingly and interact in a more direct and simple way, meaning your chatbot has a better opportunity to interact successfully.
Be open about the technology and how users should expect to interact with it, and the likelihood it will work for the brand and the users is much higher.
Chatbots vs Humans
You will have figured out by now that chatbots are not going to remove your reliance on human interaction completely. I am not sure this can be called a downside, as the humans behind your brand offer far more than just the hours they work. Some of your employees will have a close connection with your brand and have a real passion for wanting it to succeed. No matter what you do, you won’t be able to get a bot to connect with your customers on an emotional level in the same way your employees might (until the robot uprising, that is).
You should always give the option for a user to talk to a real human if they prefer. It’s also a good idea to ensure a graceful handover to a human agent if the chatbot programme determines that it’s unable to answer a question. This should be one of the key factors you consider when choosing a technology partner.
Best Chatbot Apps for Shopify
|Automated customer service, Facebook Messenger integration, multi-language support, issue categorisation
|From $10 / month
|AI-powered, automated customer service, multi-platform, integration with Hootsuite, workflow automation
|From $49 / month
|Customisable live chat widget, automated customer service, email integration, multi-language support
|Limited Free Plan
|Personalised product recommendations, abandoned cart recovery, Facebook Messenger integration
|From $50 / month
|Product recommendations, personalised shopping, customer service automation
|Limited Free Plan
|Natural language processing (NLP), advanced analytics, self-learning capability, automated marketing campaigns
|From $15 / month
|Shopping via chatbot, customer service automation, order tracking and updates, page targeting, free support
|Limited Free Plan
|Real-time visitor monitoring, customisable live chat widget, detailed analytics and reporting, email and SMS notifications
|Real-time chat, mobile optimised, automatic triggers, chat routing, customisable chat widgets
|From £17 / month
|Natural language processing (NLP) and understanding (NLU), customisable chatbot templates, dialogue management, human takeover capability
|From $29 / month
Our Recommended Chatbot Platform for Shopify
At Eastside Co, we work with hundreds of Shopify merchants and have access to some of the best technology platforms in the world. We recommend you do your own due diligence on all of the chatbot platforms listed above. In some cases, these companies offer much more than just a chatbot, however, pricing and your specific needs will come into play.
That being said, we have a great relationship with both Gorgias and Heyday and see most of our clients go to one of these platforms if they are looking for a top-tier solution for their customer service and chatbot needs. If you are struggling to know where to start, these companies are a really good place to begin your research.
Strategy for Customer Service and Customer Retention Using Chatbots on Shopify
As with any technology, just putting a chatbot widget on your website is probably not going to revolutionise your revenue, customer service and customer retention.
We recommend that you use chatbots as part of a larger strategy that aims to understand what your goals are and how chatbots can help you achieve those goals. Reducing the strain on your customer service team and improving your customer experience are both great goals to have and a chatbot on your shopify store can certainly help with that.
If you are looking at how you can improve the performance of your shopify store in general and would like some support on a customer retention strategy get in touch with the team at Eastside Co and they will be happy to help.