- Ray-Ban created a chatbot on Facebook Messenger to help mobile users shop for sunglasses and other gifts, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The chatbot serves up personalized recommendations based on user preferences and lets shoppers browse, select and purchase products without leaving the messaging app.
- Ray-Ban unveiled the chatbot after launching its latest holiday campaign. "Proud to Belong" highlights the importance of homecoming and rediscovering a sense of self, as well as notions of togetherness, acceptance and embracing their own sense of family. The campaign accompanies the reintroduction to two Ray-Ban styles, the Meteor and the Nina.
Ray-Ban's chatbot comes as the holiday shopping season is in full swing, potentially encouraging people to browse and buy gifts through a familiar messaging app that many consumers already use every day. By integrating a chatbot on Messenger, the fashion brand will likely see higher levels of engagement among mobile users than had it offered the chatbot function on Ray-Ban's website alone. The feature allows on-the-go shoppers to quickly buy an item, track the delivery status and ask questions in one streamlined location.
Ray-Ban is among the brands, including Gap and Renault, that have created chatbots on Facebook Messenger since the social network first made a major push in 2016 to help developers build automated chat experiences for uses beyond customer service. Facebook in October redesigned its Messenger app to make it simpler after spending years loading it up with more features. Previously, it updated the platform with a test feature that lets businesses introduce new "personas" to a chatbot conversation. These features could encourage more brands to build more sophisticated chatbots as the technology gains traction among consumers.
After initially being derided as clunky and ineffective, chatbots are growing more popular with consumers. About half of U.S. consumers (52%) enjoy using chat platforms to get quick answers to their customer service questions, but their reactions to chatbots tend to be less favorable, per a survey by enterprise software developer CGS. It found that 40% of U.S. consumers prefer speaking to a human because chatbots don't provide detailed answers and can be less helpful. Still, chatbot usage is expected to bring $11 billion in combined cost savings by 2023 for the retail, banking and healthcare industries as a replacement for customer service representatives, up from $6 billion in savings this year. Additionally, about 25% of customer service and support operations will use virtual assistants or chatbot technology for customer engagement by 2020, according to research firm Gartner.