July 27, 2020

What makes a good shopping assistant?

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By Margot Bonhomme, Marketing Manager @Botfuel

Shop owners have long learned how to sell in-store, optimizing the customer journey, and the shopping experience. The online experience is different and can, if not properly managed, have a negative impact on your brand image. Without a human touch, people are less likely to feel a special sense of belonging.

Rather than creating a digital-only experience, some retailers will instead seek to take advantage of their in-person sales experience and adapt it to the online world. But what can be adapted?

Conversational marketing is the technology which provides the best answer to this question. Conversation is at the center of human exchanges and it is lacking in e-commerce. Virtual assistants (or sellers) will welcome new visitors and help customers find products or services which meet their needs.

Just as it is important to have good sales associates in a retail store, it is important to have good virtual sellers. But what does a good virtual seller look like?

Humanize the digital relationship with your customers

Too often, when it comes to virtual assistants, technology comes first over human relationships. In order to avoid this, we need to look to the retail environment for inspiration. The design of a virtual assistant must be inspired by the hard-working people in stores. In other words, you will not create a good shopping assistant without a strong focus on business practices.

For example, a young girl enters your shop, looking for a dress for her birthday. A seller will assist her throughout her purchasing journey and advise her on the different dresses that fit her search. This is done through conversation and dialogue. If this same girl arrives on your website, only her size, color, or even the length of the dress might be asked. The pattern she wants or the desire which motivated her purchase will go unheard.

Unless she has a clear idea of ​​the dress she wants, she will quickly find herself unsure, lost. Conversational commerce changes this customer experience.

To humanize the online relationship, you have to shift the perspective. Shopping Assistants should not be conversational versions of existing tools such as faceted search or personalization tools. They must be the online equivalent of the oldest form of commerce: sales advice. It is on this the virtual seller will support you. It is a way to respond and guide your customers in their needs and fit them with your commercial offer.

What is a good virtual seller?

Knowing how to welcome your customers

With personalized messages According to Accenture, 33% of customers who leave an e-commerce site do so for lack of personalization. Welcoming visitors in a personalized and human manner changes this. Like a real person, the shopping assistant engages with prospects at the right time, without being too intrusive. Thanks to the conversational approach, businesses can reclaim their place as experts and recommend products in a human way.

Depending on their journey 33% of visitors do not arrive through the homepage. Just like in a store, sales associates don’t provide the same service for someone in a hurry who needs precise information on a product and a relaxed individual looking for something that strikes their fancy...

Online, you must guide these visitors in the right way. Whether they arrive through marketing campaigns, spontaneously, or by looking for a specific product, they will not have the same need and therefore the welcome message must be adapted. New visitors will want to be guided when they arrive. A visitor landing on your site having clicked on a Facebook or Instagram ad will want faster and specific guidance for the products that were presented to them beforehand.

It represents your brand

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

Just as you train your sales associates in a retail store, you must train your virtual assistants. They are the first points of contact between your customers and your brand image. You must make sure they understand and represent your corporate culture. The virtual assistant must address customers with the right tone and vocabulary. For example, the brands Undiz and Etam, both brands of the Etam Group, do not use the same semantic codes and fields. The sales associates of each brand will certainly not speak with customers in the exact same way. The same is true for your virtual assistant.

The shopping assistant also represents your brand through its expertise. For example, Decathlon boasts about the quality of advice from its expert salespeople. It is important to find this reflected in their online presence.

It knows your customers

Beyond the sale, he must be able to create a close relationship with your customers, and recognize them each visit. Connected to your CRM, the bot will be able to create a profile for frequent visitors and treat them as the VIP they are. He will be able to guide them in their purchasing journey in a hyper-personalized way, by using purchase history as a guide for interactions with the customer.

It knows your products

Visitors are often drowned by information on ecommerce sites and find themselves torn between multiple conflicting products. The virtual seller (like a sales associate) will contextualize the purchase by focusing on the purpose of the purchase. Thus, he will focus the desire to purchase towards the product which answers the current need. Making the virtual assistant part of your product flow will ensure visitors don’t become frustrated and abandon the purchase.

Always available

In retail stores, the buyer must be able to contact a seller when they have a question or issue with their purchase. E-commerce sites should not deviate from this rule - but we know how difficult it is. Virtual sellers must be able to answer questions that buyers ask themselves throughout their buying journey. Physical stores are generally open from morning to evening, often closed on Sundays and holidays. This being said, many people are free when stores are closed. An online store and virtual seller are accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and by everyone. The latter is therefore always available and can always answer users' questions. Whether it's 8 a.m. or 11 p.m., Monday to Sunday, it guides your customers through their shopping journey.

It carries the voice of the customer

It can help your brand to grow thanks to a better understanding of your customers. In physical stores, the sales associate helps guide through the purchasing journey and thus collects various information on their needs and expectations towards the brand and the product. In a perfect world, sellers and managers relay this information to the store/corporate, who can adjust the strategy to improve the customer experience.

Through thousands of interactions, your virtual assistant also helps you define your ideal customer profile. What they expect, how they respond, and what drives them to click the buy button.


Why change the recipe when the one you have is the right one? Inspire yourself by your best store associates and adapt their techniques to your virtual seller. Beyond increasing sales, you may learn to sell better. A (good) virtual seller can allow you to engage with more clients, to better understand their needs, recommend the right product, and win their loyalty.

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