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53% SG’s holiday shoppers use chatbots to help select gifts

This Christmas, more than half (53 per cent) of Singaporean shoppers are enlisting the help of chatbots for holiday shopping as bot-powered commerce is on a tipping point in the country. In fact, majority of shoppers who asked chatbots for gift recommendations have actually acted on the recommendation (74 per cent). Businesses and brands however, should not neglect incorporating the human touch.

This is because Singaporeans expect assistance from chatbots to be rudimentary, with 58 per cent viewing chatbots as useful only for basic information search, anticipating that more complex enquiries will need to be handled by a human being. Others feel that talking to chatbots have so far been a frustrating experience and they would rather speak to a human being (21 per cent) and close to a fifth expressed an outright dislike for chatbots (17 per cent).

More than 1,000 consumers in Singapore were surveyed on their use of and attitudes towards chatbots, with the results reflecting that while Singaporeans are open towards engaging with chatbots, they still have reservations. One of the top concerns that Singaporeans have towards chatbots is that their requests might not be understood (61 per cent). A third (35 per cent) are worried that their personal information might be leaked if they divulge too much to chatbots, and 13 per cent say that chatbots are too creepy if they know too much about them.

Commenting on Singaporeans’ attitudes towards chatbots, Nicholas Kontopoulos, Global Vice President of Fast Growth Markets for SAP Hybris said, “The customer experience can make or break a brand. In view of this, businesses need to stay attuned to these concerns and optimise the use of chatbots as one component in a wider omnichannel strategy. While chatbots can proactively offer answers for initial queries on pricing, product features, or book and make reservations, they cannot fully replace the value of human interaction when it comes to building customer relationships. Any hint of customer dissatisfaction needs to be solved immediately, by a human services officer.”

To win Singaporeans over, chatbots need to become more understanding and intuitive – almost half of Singaporeans (48 per cent) say that they will engage with chatbots more often if they are able to make more personalised recommendations on what to buy. Other motivating drivers that will encourage shoppers to use chatbots more often is to offer comparison of prices and products from other brands (47 per cent), assure that personal information will be kept private (38 per cent), provide recommendations on similar and complimentary products (34 per cent) or simply becoming more human-like (18 per cent).

“Singaporean shoppers have an appetite for deeper engagement with chatbots, but what the results really tell us is that they want a more personalised ecommerce experience. Today’s consumer have higher expectations and businesses need to keep a close pulse on the ever-evolving customer journey in order to react to not just changing consumer preferences but context at point of purchase or even consideration. To this end, businesses should view chatbots as more than just an answering machine – they are also a valuable mine of data that offer fresh perspectives into the underlying reasons for sales trends and help brands better understand what their customers are looking for. Armed with these insights, they can then take action to cultivate sales and entrench customer loyalty,” added Mr Kontopoulos.