How to use a shopping assistant to accelerate your ecommerce sales before the summer?

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By Margot Bonhomme, Marketing Manager @Botfuel

July 16, 2020

Summer is, as we all know, the favourite season in France. But not for online shopping. Following the fast-paced action packed first weeks, it often represents a serious slow down for ecommerce businesses. June is the worst of the bunch, with a 30% drop in sales compared to the start of the year, December.

More inclined to travel and enjoy the outdoors, people are turning away from online shopping.

That being said, what with the sanitary crisis, no one knows what will happen this year, and what surprises have yet to unfold. According to the FEVAD, revenue for ecommerce businesses has climbed dramatically this year. For the first time, sales have surpassed the landmark 100 billion euros. This threshold was attained through an explosion in sales during the lockdown; growth in the first quarter of 2020 reached 20%, compared to only 12% in 2019.1

In addition to this, new businesses appeared in the ecommerce market, bringing with it fresh ideas and renewed competition. Over 15% more supply compared to the previous year.

The summertime lull and new competitors are pushing brands to be creative. Innovation is the name of the game. One way businesses are differentiating themselves is through delightful customer experience. And what better way to do this than your very own personal shopping assistant.

Reducing friction for online buyers

Many consumers still hesitate at the thought of purchasing online. It has become second nature as part of the buying journey, but few take the plunge to purchase directly from an ecommerce store. Even though we saw an increase of over 40% of new online buyers in the month of April and May, we’re still a far cry from it being the norm.

Often cited reasons for not buying online are the inability to try things on or a lack of confidence in the online payment methods. Around 26% of buyers also stated the lack of advice from associates and experts as being a major block in purchasing online. Advice plays a major role in the purchasing journey, 8 out of 10 shoppers admit to needing some form of help along the way.

A common tactic used by ecommerce merchants is a click-and-brick approach, bringing said shoppers to visit a store to get advice in person. Some may question both the scalability and the effectiveness of this method, the buying process being as complicated as it is.

Few options exist today to manage this issue. Conversational marketing through a personalized shopping assistant is a potential solution. 47% of buyers admit they are willing to purchase products through a live chat or chatbot.2 The chat allows users to have a personalized conversation and enable a faster and simpler buying process. Over 56% of French shoppers admit that live chat makes their life easier.3

The mission: improving the user experience

A shopping assistant allows ecommerce stores to differentiate themselves and give personalized advice to each customer. It makes the user experience more relatable and imitates better the in-store experience, thereby reducing friction and increasing sales.

A secondary effect of shopping assistants is to help buyers who are earlier in the buying process, or who are simply looking for information. If doubtful buyers are told ahead of time about shipping conditions, return policy or the range of products available on your ecommerce store, they are much more inclined to purchase. According to a Keyrus study, 39% of visitors admit that an interaction with a virtual assistant was a factor in their decision to purchase. The assistant answers questions quickly and reduces stress, all while reducing the strain on the customer service department.

What does a shopping assistant actually look like?

Through conversation, the shopping assistant can:

Greet visitors

On average, an e-commerce website has a bounce rate of over 30%. That means, for every 10 people visiting a website, 3 of them leave immediately. People leave for many reasons, but a major source of bounce is confusion or being overwhelmed.

If greeted and guided through the website, you limit the risk of this happening. Furthermore, over 30% of visitors don’t even land on a website through the homepage. Taking into account the source of the visitor is essential. It makes visitors feel appreciated and offers a better experience.

Guide visitors in their buying journey

You know your products well, but your visitors likely don’t. In fact, over 50% of visitors are there for the first time. Even with a stellar greeting, these visitors could easily get lost among your collection and not find the product they’re looking for.

Conversational marketing enables visitors to be guided through your website, and adjusts itself based on the behaviour of visitors. First order of business is to get them on a product page, as over 52% of visitors never even visit one. Through tailored campaigns, visitors will tell the site a bit more about what they are searching for and the algorithm will suggest suitable collections, products and sales which best fit. Let users direct the site to where they want to go.

Suggesting the right product

The shopping assistant also suggests related products based on the qualitative answers provided by the user.

Imagine you sell cameras. If you want to help a customer looking to buy, first you must get to know what the customer is looking for. In comes the shopping assistant. Questions based on the size of device they are looking for, to the type of photography they wish to do and whether or not they consider themselves an amateur or a professional will influence what you’ll recommend.

Through specific questions, we learn to understand the customer and not only recommend them the right product, but also feed our merchandising and marketing teams.

Reducing cart abandonment

In general, a shopping assistant can determine what the customer wants and guide them in their search in order to increase conversions. A step-by-step assistance also may prevent users from abandoning their cart half-way. Particularly before summer, purchases are often done in the spur of the moment, and the slightest friction can lead to an abandoned cart.

The shopping assistant allows you to quickly and effectively reassure visitors and deal with most common objections (payment options, shipping delays, or if they can be delivered at their resort) without them leaving the cart page.


Summer is the time of year where French people want to spoil themselves, yet online shopping drops dramatically. A shopping assistant can help reverse this trend and convert more during the seasons. Shortening the purchasing funnel and reassuring the customer, all while offering a personalised and delightful shopping experience is what the shopping assistant is all about.

1Global Shopping Index study, Salesforce 2Hubspot 3Agence conversationnel

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