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Soon, 'chatbots' to guide you through shopping at Amazon

Karan Choudhury/New Delhi 15 Nov 17 | 01:05 AM

Amazon India

Soon, Amazon India might provide a ‘salesperson’ every time you shop at the online marketplace. 

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The e-commerce giant is working on ‘chatbots’, which would act as personalised salespeople, to make online shopping experience more interactive and engaging.

Called the Guided Shopping programme, it is similar to Amazon’s voice-based intelligent personnel assistant, Alexa. The text-based chatbots would help shoppers in navigation and buying on the portal through their suggestions and guidance.

Chatbots would also be able to send text messages in several Indian languages and Indic dialects.

“The company has introduced some of that in Seattle as well. It is an area they are exploring. It is called Guided Shopping. Amazon believes that India is different from a homogeneous country such as the US where 98 per cent of people have credit cards, and language is a lot more consistent. In India, people speak different languages; payment methods and trust levels are different. A conversational tool like Alexa would help," said a source close to the company.

While no time-frame has been decided as of now, chatbots might be introduced by next year.

A salesperson at the touch of a key

* Chatbots to converse in various India languages

* Chatbots to act like real life salespersons

* Testing already on at Seattle in the US

The company has spent a chunk of its $5 billion investment on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and customer acquisition. In a recent interview, Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO Worldwide Consumer, told Business Standard the company was working on a host of artificial intelligence-based products out of India.

“I think all the inventions we work on would eventually make their way to India, and all the inventions happening here will find their way to other countries. There are things we already invented in India that we are deploying elsewhere, for example Seller Flex and Easy Ship. These are the ideas we have transferred to other geographies. We are constantly improving our algorithms across our ordering and buying systems and service systems. There are machine-learning elements that are being developed in India," he had said.

The company hopes that chatbots would help increase its engagement with customers in tier-III areas. “The technology would remove a lot of obstacles for first-time buyers and make them realise that shopping online is simple," added the source.

According to a study done by market research, survey and business consultancy firm IMRB, had more transacting customers than any other online destination. The study also showed that had the higher number of customers as well as the maximum number of orders placed through the festive season, the company said.

Its loyalty programme, Prime, continued to be a bestseller during the festival, with membership doubling since July.

India accounted for the highest number of Prime members in a debut year, growing the fastest among the 13 countries where Amazon Prime is available.

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