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The retail industry has undergone an incredible transformation over the past decade. Shoppers continue to move online and away from brick-and-mortar retail, demanding increasingly more personalized, conversation-driven experiences. For retailers looking to maximize online sales, chatbot technology offers a powerful way to connect with the consumer directly, on a platform where they are already active — messaging.

Facebook Messenger features over 100,000 chatbots from the most innovative, forward-thinking brands including Delivery.com. Other messenger platforms, including Kik and WeChat, also host a variety of retail chatbots designed to drive ecommerce sales and build consumer relationships.

Before you start building a chatbot for your brand, however, consider integrating the following three features into your bot to ensure it is as modern, customized, and shopper-friendly as possible.

Artificial intelligence

Generic, pure rule-based chatbots are just that: chatbots. Without the addition of artificial intelligence, these chatbots are only equipped with the most basic, predefined set of question/answer options, and are therefore only capable of having linear conversations with customers.

Today’s online shoppers want services that cater to their preferences and needs. The addition of artificial intelligence allows customers to have highly personalized, humanlike conversations with the AI-powered chatbot — just like talking to a real sales associate in a physical store. The AI learns as the customer shops, so customers benefit from a smarter shopping experience. Further, businesses can collect unparalleled conversational analytics to provide a more customized, targeted shopping experience for their customers.

Visual search

Visual search is an exciting new technology that, when integrated into a retailer’s chatbot, allows customers to shop for similar-looking items, and “shop the look” from within a brand’s product catalog by sending the chatbot an image. These are convenient services that purely text-based search and rules-based chatbots cannot provide, particularly for users on mobile devices.

Asos, a major fashion retailer, recently rolled out a visual search tool to help customers shop using their smartphone cameras. The technology was built based on company insights that noted 80 percent of their U.K. traffic comes from mobile devices.

Conversational size and fit

Lastly, the integration of conversational size and fit capabilities into your chatbot will create an even more personalized and curated shopping experience for customers online.

Conversational size and fit features allow chatbots to save each customer’s size and style preferences based on natural, organic conversations, versus a survey-like questionnaire. Once a size is saved, the customer’s experience changes to cater results to their preferences. In addition, as customers interact with features of the bot (e.g.: “more like this”), those style preferences are also remembered by the AI chatbot, further enhancing the customer’s experience. These features are also beneficial for the retailer. With a better understanding of a customer’s style and sizing, brands can better target promotional offers based on those preferences.

Leading retailers from around the world are embracing chatbot technology to better serve their customers in today’s highly competitive, saturated online retail space. With the addition of artificial intelligence, visual search, and conversational size and fit features, companies can maximize sales of products through a seamless, personalized customer experience online.

Eitan Sharon is the chief executive officer at Mode.ai, a company that creates AI-powered visual chatbots.

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