Botnation unveils the chatbot developed during the Arsenal Innovation Lab program

Botnation Arsenal

A few days ago, Arsenal held a demo day during which they unveiled the projects on which the 6 startups had worked during the program. Botnation was one of them. We tell you about the thinking behind and the management of the chatbot project.

The Arsenal Innovation Lab adventure

The London club received 250 entries from all over the world. Last November, 22 startups were invited to pitch their project at the Emirates Stadium. Botnation was part of “the list of 22” 😉
5 minutes of pitch, 10 minutes of Q&A. A few weeks later we learned we were selected. 👏

So in January 2018, Botnation joined the Arsenal Innovation Lab alongside 6 other incredible startups. For 10 weeks we moved part of the team from Paris to London. Our offices were in the Emirates Stadium (bonus a garden was pretty cool 😄). One of the many benefits of working with such a great brand as Arsenal is the tickets to see some great matches (ARSvCHE in the Cup was amazing!) or to show our partners around the stadium when they visit London.

Julien & Jonathan at Arsenal

A few days ago, Arsenal held a demo day during which they unveiled the projects on which the 6 startups had worked during the program.

How to recreate the in-store online experience with a chatbot?

We collaborated with the e-commerce team in charge of the Arsenal Direct website on a specific use case: how to improve the shopping experience for a jersey. It seems simple to start but when you start to think about it, believe me, it quickly becomes complicated.

💡I’ll explain. There are 3 types of jerseys: home jersey (🔴), outdoor ( 🔵) and the 3rd jersey (⚫️). So far it’s simple but it gets complicated quickly because there are replica versions (the same as the players) or classic (more adapted to the fans). Long sleeves, short sleeves. Women’s jerseys. Children’s and baby swimwear. And it gets even more complicated when you want to customize your jersey by adding a player’s name or your own name. The number of characters allowed depends on the type of jersey, its size… Not to mention the different fonts or the Premier League/Europa League patches.

The Arsenal jersey

Recreate the in-store online experience with a chatbot

When you are in a physical store, usually when a salesperson has been watching you for 2 minutes without finding anything, he/she comes to you to advise you. If it comes too early it’s annoying, if it comes too late well… it’s too late.
The Arsenal team wanted the chatbot to be very easy to use. That’s what this bot is all about: How to recreate the in-store online experience with a chatbot?

One figure is quite telling, in the UK the average conversion rate in the e-commerce sector is 3.57%. There are several reasons for this, including (1) the difficulty of navigation and (2) the lack of information about the product. The Arsenal e-commerce site is quite well designed and the product sheets are well detailed. However, a bot capable of helping to find the right jersey was not a luxury to find it (see above).

Julien, Régis and I decided to create this chatbot.
There are 4 points that were essential to ensure the success of this bot: the ease of use, the user experience on mobile, the availability of products and the integration with the payment process.

1 – The bot must be simple to use.

The big mistake would have been to put the site in the bot and try to sell everything from the bot. We have tested many workflows. Some worked great “on paper” and yet once in place on Botnation it did not work at all. Too long, too complicated. Clarification: in 10 weeks we could not make the bot as conversational as we would have liked. So we had to skip the AI and Context module of Botnation and focus on a very guided decision tree. But after all, the objective was really to take the user by the hand to guide him to the right result and not to give him a demo of our NLP module?

Julien in full mapping

2 – The user experience, especially on mobile

We really worked on that. What’s more frustrating than a bad experience when you’re on mobile? Coming from the world of applications with Uplike we have really optimized the speed of content loading and the UX to adapt perfectly to all devices. Of course, there are still a few exotic android devices where the rendering may be a little different but overall it works great!
A bias, especially to increase the reach, was not to use Facebook Messenger on the site (via Customer chat plugin). So we developed the bot on our own conversation window a.k.a. Botnation web plugin. We took the opportunity to rework the overall design of the window and in passing add some features such as the activation of the keyboard depending on the environment i.e. if I ask a question the input is activated, otherwise it remains disabled. This is a handy feature that doesn’t exist on Facebook Messenger (free input on or off – nothing in between).

Overview of the carousel

3 – Availability of items

We touch on a sensitive subject. Remember that fabulous Jordan/Mellow Yellow/Louboutin pair (←ray what you don’t). You spent time looking for them, finding the right size and when it came time to add them to the cart, you saw that dreaded message: “sorry item is no longer available“. 😱
This is everything we wanted to avoid with the Arsenal bot. Imagine a Gunners fan spending 5 minutes customizing his jersey in the bot and being told at the end that the jersey in question is no longer available? No way 👊
So we made sure that the bot is connected to the Arsenal stock to be able to propose only what is available or to propose recommendations if the selected jersey was not in stock anymore.
Whatever the state of stocks, the bot will always offer you a replacement item.

4- Redirect to the shopping cart

The very principle of this bot is to take the visitor by the hand, to help him find what he was looking for and take him to the shopping cart. It was therefore essential to end the conversation with the addition to the basket and the payment. We didn’t just want to make a recommendation tool but a real sales tool. At the end of the conversation, the bot will suggest you to add the jersey in your cart. This feature triggers the opening of the cart to proceed to the payment. 🛒

The chatbot in production on the site

This bot, created in a few weeks, is the first brick of several products we are developing at Botnation to improve the user experience and sales in e-commerce.

If you wish to consult the Arsenal Direct bot, personalize a jersey or even order: Arsenal Direct. Feel free to share your comments and questions with us 😃

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