The pros and cons of using chatbots in E-commerce

Anastasia Kurmakaeva

Written by Anastasia Kurmakaeva

In recent years we have all observed how the use of artificial intelligence chatbots has increased significantly on websites, especially in e-commerce. But surely more than one has wondered:

  • What are they?
  • Where did they come from?
  • What is its purpose?
  • Are we interested in using them or not?
  • Are they effective as a customer service method?

Let’s take a look at it.

What is a chatbot

Chatbots in e-commerce, pros and consChatbots are computer programs that perform the function of providing personalized and automated customer service. They contribute to improving the user experience, since unlike traditional forms of customer service, which, as is logical, usually have time restrictions, chatbots are always available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a weekwithout the need for a person on the other end of the line to solve any issue that may arise. Some of the most popular AI chatbots we deal with on a day-to-day basis are Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa… and also on websites, can be found directly implemented in messaging applications. such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram or Slack to manage requests through those social channels.

We can also give a special mention to well-designed chatbots from the well-known language learning mobile app Duolingo; the Pizza Hut chatbot, which you will find on the brand’s social profiles on Twitter and Facebook; or the Skyscanner chatbot, which helps you find the best deals on flights. Another interesting chatbot is Surveybot, which allows us to conduct surveys to users who follow us on Facebook through their Messenger.

The main utility of a chatbot lies in allowing users to have a perfectly natural conversation with them to request information about something, ask them to perform an action, ask them any question, etc. We often find them integrated into websites, although this is not always the case. However, for the purpose of this article, we are interested in delving precisely into this type of chatbots, since what we want to explore are the advantages and disadvantages of having a chatbot in an e-commerce, where the need to provide the best possible customer service is paramount.

Advantages of chatbots

Full availability 24/7

As we have already mentioned in the previous section of this article, chatbots have no timetable and are available at any time of the day to help, manage and solve the doubts of your e-commerce customers. While it is true that they will not be as effective as a real operator, a well-programmed chatbot can successfully solve many simple queries that do not require human intervention.

Query filtering

With a chatbot you will be able to filter the most frequent, repetitive, and/or not very difficult queries, since the program will take care of solving them without having to be transferred to your customer service staff. In this way, you will lighten the workload of your employees, giving them more time to efficiently solve the most complex issues, which will contribute to shorter response times and a much more agile user experience.

Some examples of the tasks that a chatbot can handle are: order status requests, frequently asked questions by customers, product information requests…


Chatbots do not need to “think”, so they provide a quick response to the questions posed to them, being able to cover several requests at the same time.

Personalized experience

Thanks to Machine Learning, chatbots are able to provide a personalized experience to your users, learning from and about them. They adjust to your tastes and needs with ease, making suggestions tailored to each visitor and each request for information or assistance.

Good image

In addition to help us to be much more proactive and decisive in our service.chatbots can convey a positive image about the company, both in terms of customer service and in terms of projecting that our business is at the forefront of technological advances and showing concern for offering the best possible service to customers.

Disadvantages of chatbots

Limited possibilities

Not all of us are going to be able to afford a chatbot on the level of Google Assistant or Siri. It’s not necessary either! But if the chatbot is very limited in its functionalities, it will not be able to contribute much to improve customer service.

Not all businesses can benefit from them.

Chatbots can be quite useful for an online store or for specific services that are quite straightforward. To give some examples: ordering a cab, ordering food delivery, as well as other purposes.

However, there will be e-commerce where a chatbot has no place, and forcing its implementation can be more counterproductive than anything else, and instead of being helpful, it will annoy the user who is browsing the web, leading to a negative experience. In such cases it is better to opt for a personalized customer service with a fixed schedule, without other intermediaries.

Can be intrusive

Clippy, the Microsoft Office assistant

According to its implementation, a chatbot pop-up that appears every time you enter a website asking if you need anything from it can be intrusive and annoying, in the same way as when we enter a physical store and immediately the customer service staff asks us if we need anything. It is better to relegate it to a visible place on the page, but in a short form, so that users know it is there if they need help, can click on it and open a window or pop-up conversation with the chatbot.

Let’s take the example of Clippy, the cute helper from Office 97-2003 (DEP ⚰). This animated character from Microsoft’s suite was anything but helpful. No one wants their chatbot to become the Clippy analog and result in a high bounce rate and poor traffic results. Or in the most extreme cases, reputation.

Chatbots can make mistakes

Because although technology is in continuous development, and a chatbot can be very powerful and very well programmed, the application may not understand what the user needs from it and respond with something completely contrary to what is being asked.

Not everyone knows how to or wants to talk to a chatbot.

A chatbot is likely to be well received by a younger audience that is used to dealing with artificial intelligence applications, and in general, is more easily navigated when it comes to technology and surfing the Internet.

But we should not forget about people who are older, or who do not get along so well with technology. This does not make them any less valuable as customers.

In the end, it is a matter of knowing and analyzing well our potential customers and our target audience, to determine if investing in a chatbot is a good idea.and if the users who visit our website are really going to (want to or know how to) make use of it and exploit its potential.

It is important not to forget that although chatbots are an incredibly useful and powerful tool, they do not replace a customer service with qualified staff, so we must take them into account as what they are: a complement to improve the user experience on our website.

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Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Former SEO consultant and translator at Human Level. She is a specialist in translation and SEO, with a special focus on the Yandex search engine. She is fluent in Russian, Spanish and English, being fully bilingual in the first two.

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