Quick summary

In a rush? Here’s a bite-sized summary of this guide. The ecommerce industry has seen rapid growth in recent years, and it shows no signs of stopping. To kickstart sales for your own ecommerce store, use a Messenger bot to improve performance in one of three key areas. First, you can increase the number of customers by creating an enticing, well-designed store, planning and building the right kind of bot, and then bringing users to it with Facebook ads, posts, or sponsored Messenger messages. Second, you can increase the average order volume by upselling, cross-selling, or offering different types of discounts with your bot. Finally, you can increase the number of purchases per customer by using a bot to promote a sense of delight: Answer FAQs, provide a personalized experience, and follow up after the purchase. The central takeaway is that a Messenger bot is the key to automating processes, increasing sales, and standing out from the competition in the world of ecommerce.

What to expect from this guide

It’s no secret that ecommerce is the newest phase in the evolution of retail—and that it’s here to stay. Online stores now make up the fourth-largest retail sector in the US, and growth isn’t projected to slow any time soon. The rise of drop-shipping means that companies no longer have to keep massive inventory on hand. As a result, brands both large and small are turning their focus to online sales in ever-larger numbers.

While ecommerce has made it easier than ever before to build a successful retail brand, it’s still not easy. Creating a successful online store requires knowledge, persistence, and constant improvements across all spheres of your business, from marketing to logistics to support.

To help you navigate the ecommerce jungle, we created this comprehensive guide—but you’ll notice it’s not like most others out there. Our secret is that we’re going to help you resolve many of the difficulties ecommerce-business owners face with a single tool: the Messenger chatbot, which can automate many processes for your store.

Keep in mind that this guide is an advanced and in-depth one. If you’re just starting out in the world of ecommerce, look to Shopify for advice on how to choose a product first. Then, learn how to set up a Shopify store.

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The three main methods for increasing ecommerce sales

Once you have an active Shopify store, you’re ready to dive into this guide. Whether you’re struggling to make any sales or simply want to make more, you’re in the right place.

In general, there are three main areas to focus on if you want to boost revenue for an ecommerce store:

  1. Increase the number of customers
  2. Increase the average order value (AOV)
  3. Increase the number of purchases per customer

The truth is, these are all key to ecommerce success. Unfortunately, improving all three generally isn’t a quick-and-simple process.

When you add a chatbot to the equation, however, results can start to come a bit more easily. Let's jump into the first of these three paths to more significant revenue. Along the way, we'll share the many parts of the process a bot can simplify or automate.

#1. Increase the number of customers with a bot.

Get more paying customers: It’s usually the first aim for any business trying to increase sales. So how does one go about getting new customers to buy at an online store?

Ads can be an effective method for attracting shoppers, and we’ll discuss how a chatbot can help too. However, before you put time and energy into either of those, it’s crucial to make sure you optimize the store itself first. These other tools won’t be effective unless browsing and buying from your store is easy for prospects once they get there.

Keep your target customer in mind every step of the way in this process. Understand how they access your shop, how they search for items there, and which aspects of the shopping experience are most important to them. Then design your Shopify store to match their needs, making sure that it:

  • Is responsive and easy to navigate. First things first: Is it easy for people to visit your store? Ensure it’s accessible and loads quickly on all devices. Make it simple to navigate: Ideally, prospects should be able to find what they’re looking for within three clicks. Add a search bar too, to make browsing even easier.
  • Has a clean, enticing design. Web stores with bright, minimalistic layouts tend to do best at drawing visitors in. If your site has too much going on visually, most users won’t even take the time to browse your products. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three colors—nothing too bold—and stick to a single, easy-to-read font.
Argomall website for focusing of products
The Argomall website has a simple, organized design that allows users to focus on the products themselves without distractions.
  • Contains clear, accurate, helpful information. Again, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Make sure your product descriptions include everything they’d want to know before buying. Use short, catchy subheadings. List product features and benefits with bullet points so they’re easy to skim. Use text that’s large enough for easy readability—12- to 16-point font is usually ideal. When it comes to product photos, focus on the merchandise and stick to a white background.
  • Is carefully and intuitively organized. There are two types of people who visit an online store: Those who already know what they want to buy, and those who don’t yet. Make navigation as easy as possible for both. Organize the menu bar and categories into sections that make sense. Use clear headlines and drop-down or expandable menus with recognizable names, so that even a site visitor unfamiliar with your brand could understand and navigate.
Petco website has categories
The Petco website organizes their items by pet-type first, then breaks down their selection into various other recognizable, clear categories.
  • Has an optimized shopping cart. Your store’s shopping cart must work perfectly. Otherwise, you risk frustrating or confusing prospects who are on the brink of converting—resulting in a lost sale. Again, make sure the design is clean, simple, and user oriented. The fewer clicks it takes to make a purchase, the higher your conversion rate will generally be. Monitor visitor behavior and statistics in relation to your cart closely, and test its functionality often. Finally, make sure the checkout page is as clear as possible. Remove distractions—meaning anything that could deter the prospect from following through with their purchase.
  • Offers personalization. You can use various tools to personalize key pages on your site. A little customization can go a long way in making the customer experience more engaging and encouraging visitors to buy. You can set up your site to suggest products based on previous behavior, geolocation, items similar to those in the cart, or another factor.
Amazon is offering personalized product recommendations for users
Amazon is known for offering personalized product recommendations to show users other items they might enjoy, based on past behavior or the preferences of similar users.

Once you’ve got a well-organized, enticing store that attracts customers and encourages them to browse, it’s time to add a chatbot to the mix. A bot can automate various processes to help bring more customers to your optimized online store. To start enjoying these benefits for your business, you’ve got to lay the groundwork first:

  • Plan your bot’s goals and flow. An effective, impactful bot all begins in the planning stages. If you’re stuck, you can find useful information in sections one and two of our guide to engaging prospects and growing your audience with a bot.
  • Build your bot. It’s free to get started designing your bot in Chatfuel, and there’s no coding knowledge or special skills required. If you’d like some guidance, take Chatfuel’s official course to learn to build a bot from scratch. It’s called The Complete Guide to Messenger Bots for Business, and it’s free on Udemy. The course was created by Andrew Demeter, our Head of Education. He's also shared some tips and tricks on our blog to help you save time and create a better bot. Finally, don’t forget to make sure your bot complies with Facebook’s Messenger policies!
  • Integrate the bot with your Shopify store. The next step is to actually link your bot to Shopify, which you’ll need to do manually for now. Our detailed, 10-step guide will take you through the process. It includes information on setting up retargeting, discount codes, cart-abandonment reminders, receipt notifications, and shipping updates with your bot as well.
Integrating Chatfuel chatbot with Shopify

After these steps, you should have a functioning chatbot ready to help bring you traffic. Here are three ways you can now use your bot to attract customers to your Shopify store:

  • Run Messenger ads on Facebook. There are a few different ways you can use Facebook ads to get more users to interact with your bot. One particularly effective method is to create an ad that, when clicked, will direct the user to your bot in Messenger instead of to a landing page. Then, it can ask them an engaging question or present a discount or offer. If the user responds, they become subscriber—that is, a contact your bot will now be able to message in the future.
  • Acquire users from comments on Facebook posts. Similarly, you can set up your Chatfuel bot to send a message to users who comment on all or one of your Facebook page posts. If the user responds to the bot’s message, they become a subscriber. To illustrate, let’s imagine an ecommerce store that sells pet items—we’ll call it Petfuel Supplies. Petfuel could create a post about a product giveaway, stating that users must comment their answer to the question in the post to enter. The bot can automatically message those who didn’t win with a coupon code for 15% of their next purchase of any cat toy. The post doesn’t have to be a giveaway, either; it can simply be a fun, interesting question. Just make sure to avoid using engagement bait: irrelevant, unhelpful posts simply designed to get as many comments as possible. Facebook’s algorithm punishes these types of posts.
Chatfuel’s Acquire Users from Comments feature
Gain new bot subscribers who you can convert to customers, thanks to Chatfuel’s Acquire Users from Comments feature.
  • Send sponsored messages. Facebook has rules about when businesses can contact users via Messenger. In most cases, it’s essentially only within 24 hours of your last conversation with a particular contact. However, if you pay for a sponsored message, you can send content (including promotional messaging) to subscribers outside of that time frame. This method is ideal for later outreach to the audience you gathered with the previous two methods.
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Finally, you can use Chatfuel’s A/B test plugin to optimize any portion of your bot, so you can maximize the number of new subscribers (or, later on, conversions). It’s wise to test and iterate often—before, during, and after campaigns—to ensure your bot is the best it can be.

For example, you could A/B test two different initial messages that your bot sends to users it acquires from Facebook post comments or ads. That way, you can let the data tell you which is more effective for getting users to respond and become subscribers.

#2. Increase the average order value (AOV) with a bot.

There are many ways for a bot to incentivize shoppers to buy even more with you per transaction. The first is to offer personalized product recommendations in the moment. A bot can do this based on what a user asks about, or on the results of a quiz it offers.

The chatbot for Clinique takes the user through a brief quiz to find out their skin type. It then recommends products that would suit them.

Let’s imagine a bot for Petfuel: the pet-supplies brand from our previous example. When a user inquires about dog food, the bot could ask for the dog’s age and size. If the user selects “puppy” and “large breed,” the bot can then display the store’s selection of relevant, best-selling types, including details and pricing. Since the user will only see these specific, popular options, they’re more likely to purchase than if they were left to browse the online store on their own.

To get these prospects to then buy even more, a bot can offer other, specific types of recommendations designed to increase AOV. It can:

  • Upsell. Upselling is encouraging a customer to buy a product that’s similar to the one they’re considering, but costs more. The Petfuel bot, for example, could show a user interested in dog food the store’s selection of top-selling brands. Then, it could also let the user know that Petfuel has a high-quality, organic type of food now available, too. It’s more expensive, but the bot can share details on its many benefits in order to encourage the user to buy it instead.
  • Cross-sell. Cross-selling is encouraging a customer to buy a related or complementary product in addition to the one they’re already planning to purchase. After sharing the store’s selection of dog food to the interested user, the Petfuel bot could recommend additional, related products too. It could share the most popular types of treats the store sells, or a new type of dog toy they just released. That way, a user who was only interested in dog food may end up including a few additional items in their order.

Gathering user preferences isn’t just useful for recommendations in the moment, either. A Chatfuel bot can organize and save these details for future use by applying tags, called user attributes, to subscribers. In our Petfuel example, the bot could tag those who ask about dog food with {{dog owner}}, and those interested in cat food with {{cat owner}}.

That way, the bot can use these stored attributes to follow up with customized incentives later on, to encourage users to buy additional products. It can share these offers in a free message within Facebook’s 24-hour time window, or via sponsored message at any time after that.

Sample flow for Ecommerce chatbot

The first type of personalized incentive your bot could share to boost AOV is a discount or offer. Although you don’t want to give away discounts too frequently and consistently lose out on that extra revenue, sharing them with prospects or customers now and again can be powerful. In a survey of over 1,000 American adults who shop online, 40% say they’d spend more overall and 28% would purchase a more expensive product with an exclusive offer or coupon. Here are a couple of examples of discounts or bonuses your bot could share with users:

  • Set a free-shipping threshold. Let’s assume Petfuel wants to boost cat-food sales. Their bot could message users who have the {{cat owner}} attribute, notifying them of their latest deal: free shipping on orders over $50, which could take the form of a coupon that doesn’t function until the cart value is $50 or more. Then, it can display a selection of their top-selling, cat-related products for the subscriber to browse. That way, someone who was already planning to buy food for their cat might decide to add a toy or a bag of treats to their cart too, so they can reach the free-shipping threshold.
  • Give volume discounts. Or, the Petfuel bot could send a message to users it has tagged as {{cat owners}} regarding a new offer: 15% off when you buy 10 or more cans of cat food at once. This offer could also take the form of a coupon that becomes valid when the cart contains the required amount of merchandise. A cat-owning user who was going to buy food for their pet anyway might decide to buy a larger amount to be eligible for the discount.
Volume discounts for customers within chatbots
A bot can easily offer volume discounts to customers to get them to buy more per order.
  • Promote your loyalty program. If your brand offers a loyalty program of some kind, bots are great for sending related reminders to customers. For example, the Petfuel bot could let a {{dog owner}} user know that they only need to spend $X more to redeem a free bag of dog treats. Or, a bot could simply notify the user of a bonus product with minimum purchase. In our example, it could be that they’ll receive a free bag of dog treats if they spend a certain amount. Both methods can encourage a customer to order additional items.

Another option is to have your bot send a Re-Engage message or a Sequence to increase AOV. Sequences are messages a bot sends on a set schedule over time, similar to an email drip campaign. One way to do this would be:

  • Create a limited-time sale. Short-term sales promote a sense of urgency in shoppers, which can encourage them to buy additional items now before the price increases. For example, the Petfuel bot could start a message Sequence to users tagged as {{dog owner}}. The first message could notify them about a new sale: 20% off dog crates for the next two days only, using a special discount code. We know these users are dog owners who might be interested in the product, and that 20% off a relatively expensive item can be a powerful incentive. If a user hasn’t purchased by the next day, the bot can deliver the second message in the Sequence: a “last-chance” notification to increase the sense of urgency. As a result, a user who set out to buy pet food originally could end up also buying a dog crate from the store, increasing the number of items purchased.
Sequences are similar to an email drip campaign
With Sequences, a Chatfuel bot can follow up with subscribers at set intervals—similar to an email drip campaign.
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#3. Increase the number of purchases per customer.

The third way to increase revenue for your ecommerce store is also the most frequently overlooked: Get existing customers to buy from you more often. Most businesses are focused on acquiring new leads rather than encouraging repeat business. This approach can not only alienate your existing customers and motivate them to look elsewhere, but research shows that it’s more expensive.

According to MarTech Zone, it costs 16x as much to get a new customer up to the same level of profitability that a lost customer would’ve been at. Add this to the fact that repeat customers spend more, and you’ve got an even bigger incentive to nurture existing business: A report by Adobe shows that repeat customers buy almost 30% more items per order than first-time shoppers, and generate 3x-7x more revenue per visit.

So what can you do to nurture the customers you already have, and encourage them to buy again? The key is to provide an exemplary customer experience—or to promote what is known as customer delight. Hubspot defines customer delight as:

Hubspot about Customer delight

It all comes down to offering consistently fast, friendly, and personalized service: the key to keeping customers coming back to your store for more. According to research by Media Post, 71% of of consumers have ended a relationship with a brand because of a negative customer service experience. If your brand can create a positive experience every time instead, you’ll be able to bring your existing clientele back to buy again.

Here are a few other ways bots can help provide exceptional service to delight your customers:

  • Personalize each interaction. Thanks to user attributes, discussed in section #2, it’s easy for your bot to provide a customized experience. A bot can store most any user input as an attribute for future use. Which experience would make you feel more valued as a customer: an automatic email from DONOTREPLY confirming your dog-food purchase from Petfuel Supplies? Or, a personalized message from a friendly bot that says, “Hi Sally, thanks for your order from Petfuel! We hope Shadow enjoys his new treats.”? The sky’s the limit when it comes to the level of personalization your bot can provide to users—and even just including the basics like their name and a past product preference can work wonders.
  • Answer FAQs. It takes just minutes to build a simple bot designed to answer FAQs. The beauty of this bot function is that your prospects and customers can get answers to questions about your brand and products immediately. They don’t have to wait for a human agent to be available, and human agents end up with free time for handling more complex inquiries. This fast, easy, and engaging service experience is a great first step in creating customer delight.
Chatbot answering basic FAQs
It’s easy to equip a bot to answer basic FAQs.
  • Connect users to a human agent when necessary. If a user has a specific question that a human could answer more comprehensively than the bot, a simple plugin can allow them to request connection to a live chat. That way, a available rep can jump in and resolve the issue before it escalates, avoiding user frustration or confusion. It also shows your customers that you’re dedicated to creating a smooth, positive experience for them.
  • Offer quizzes. Creating a bot that guides users through a quiz can have two benefits. First, it’s a fun, creative way for users to engage with your brand. It’ll help you create that memorable experience that contributes to their delight. Plus, you can incorporate product recommendations into the quiz results, as mentioned in section #2. The Petfuel bot, for example, could quiz pet owners in order to suggest the right type of food for their furry friend. If it’s a large dog over age 10, they could recommend one type of food, and a different type for a small-breed puppy.

Commitment to customer delight doesn’t have to end when the user converts, either. After they make a purchase, your bot can also:

  • Share order tracking. You can equip your bot to notify a customer when their order has shipped, and share a tracking number. See step #9 in our guide to connecting Shopify + Chatfuel for details on how to set up this functionality.
Your bot can be with the customer every step of the way, even after they’ve made a purchase.
  • Follow up after delivery to ensure satisfaction. One of the best ways to see if a customer has been delighted by shopping at your store: Ask them! Your bot can follow up with customers who bought from you, requesting that they rate their experience and your product(s). If the rating is poor, your bot can notify a live support agent to step in. If the rating is positive, your bot can direct the user to a review site to post about it.
  • Send gifts and bonuses to past customers. A surefire way to delight your customers is to surprise them. A small gift or reward out of the blue will show appreciation, and can gain you a customer for life. One way to do this would be to have your bot send a message only to subscribers who have made a purchase with you. (You can find these subscribers by filtering a certain user attribute you created beforehand, like {{customer}}.) The message could include a free download or a discount code, for example, to show the user that you value them.

In conclusion, there are many ways to get more sales for your Shopify store. If you’ve been struggling to find some that work for your unique business, it might be time you considered a bot. While we’ve given an overview of many sales functions chatbots can help with, it’s up to you to experiment and get creative. Use this guide as a jumping-off point to start accelerating the growth of your ecommerce store with a Messenger bot!

Build a bot for your shop 🤖+🛍

With its enormous amount of potential applications, a chatbot might just be the game-changer your ecommerce business needs. If you’re looking to supercharge sales for your Shopify store, start creating a bot with Chatfuel today! No credit card or coding knowledge required. Happy bot building!

Questions to ask? Success stories to share? Reach out to team@chatfuel.com.

P.S. Exciting things are in the works here at Chatfuel! We’re building a suite of tools specifically for Shopify store owners, to make it even easier for you to increase revenue for your ecommerce store. Learn more about what’s coming soon, and sign up to get notified when we launch!

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