Chatbots are helping Singaporeans shop for gifts this Christmas – but not everyone’s loving them

  • 53% of Singaporean shoppers intend to or have already used chatbots for Christmas shopping
  • 61% feel that chatbots do not understand what they want to say
  • 35% fear that personal information divulged to chatbots might be leaked

Christmas is just around the corner and it looks like technology has made its way into helping people shop for gifts in Singapore this year.

Specifically, we’re talking about chatbots – which some people love and others love to hate.

As it turns out, more than half (53%) of Singaporean shoppers intend to, or have already enlisted help from chatbots for their Christmas shopping.

And 74% of them actually acted on the recommendations given to them by these chatbots, revealed the SAP Hybris Singapore Christmas Shopper Survey 2017 on Thursday (Dec 14).

SAP Hybris, a provider of omnichannel customer engagement and commerce software, surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in Singapore on their use and attitudes towards chatbots.

But it looks like these robots have some way to go before they take over the world.

The majority of Singaporeans (58%) expect assistance from chatbots to be useful only for basic information searches, and expect more complex enquiries to be handled by human beings.

“While chatbots can proactively offer answers for initial queries on pricing, product features, or book and make reservations, they cannot fully replace the value of human interaction when it comes to building customer relationships,” said global vice president of Fast Growth Markets for SAP Hybris Mr Nicholas Kontopoulos, in a statement.

“Any hint of customer dissatisfaction needs to be solved immediately, by a human services officer.”

Some of the top concerns that Singaporeans have towards chatbots include miscommunication – when their requests are not understood by the bots (61%) – and concerns that their personal information may be leaked (35%).

There are some (13%) who just find it downright creepy for chatbots to know too much about them. Who can blame them, right?

Some 17% of the respondents even expressed an outright dislike for chatbots, with a little over a fifth (21%) still choosing to speak to a person over a chatbot.

With the ever increasing demand for personalisation, chatbots may have a better chance of winning Singaporeans over if they become more understanding and intuitive.

Almost half (48%) of Singaporeans say that they will engage with chatbots if they are able to make more personalised recommendations.

Other drivers that would encourage shoppers to interact with chatbots include: price and product comparisons across brands (47%), an assurance that their personal information will be kept private (38%), and simply becoming more human-like (18%).

Mr Kontopoulus said: “Singaporean shoppers have an appetite for deeper engagement with chatbots, but what the results really tell us is that they want a more personalised e-commerce experience.”

“To this end, businesses should view chatbots as more than just an answering machine – they are also a valuable mine of data that offer fresh perspectives into the underlying reasons for sales trends and help brands better understand what their customers are looking for”.