The Edit, an SMS-based vinyl retailer, is an ecommerce venture launched by Seattle-based startup ReplyYes eight months ago. It uses the ReplyYes text-to-buy platform to send customers automated text messages of daily vinyl offers and allows them to simply reply “yes” to initiate the purchase process. Users can also reply “like” or “dislike” to inform the bot of their musical preferences. The Edit says it has so far sold over 50,000 records to tens of thousands of subscribers in this way. The company attributes much of its early success to an algorithm powering the bot that recommends records based on purchase behavior and other interest-level data. Furthermore, whenever a customer asks a question beyond the bot’s capability, a customer service rep will quickly step in and provide an appropriate response.
What Brands Need To Do
Since Facebook introduced bots to its Messenger platform last week, chat bots have been pushed into the industry spotlight and received a considerable amount of doubts and criticisms. Most early reviews of Messenger bots rightfully pointed out their cognitive limitations and lack of sophistication. However, The Edit’s success shows that it is possible for brands and businesses to find an appropriate way to use chat bots to engage and communicate with customers, as long as they are aware of their limitations and incorporate a human touch to avoid frustrating the customers. As chat bots continue to evolve and mature, we expect to see more brands figure out how to properly use them to serve customers on conversational platforms.
For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new rules of discovery, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.