As part of our participation in XarTec Salut, we are investigating the role that chatbots can play in different eHealth related aspects, from anti-bullying bots to chatbots expert in selling health products. For this latter scenario, we wanted to understand how well our eCommerce expert chatbot fits the needs of health-oriented online shops, such as supplements and other over-the-counter drugs (i.e.  medicines sold directly to a consumer without a requirement for a prescription from a healthcare professional), commonly referred as OTC.

As a first step, we’ve analyzed the presence of chatbots in the websites of the top 50 nutritional supplement sellers. We cannot share the list (it’s an internal working document that one of our colleagues was nice enough to share with us) but it comprises all the well-known names in this sector such as: Nature Love, Vitamaze, WeigthWorld, Yamamoto Nutrition, Alpha foods, Ana Maria La Justicia, Solgar,¬† Rite-Flex, Zenement, Tetesept, etc.

Let’s see a couple of interesting results.

What eCommerce platform do supplement stores use?

The following pie chart shows this data. I think there are a few surprises:

  • Shopify is the most used eCommerce platform, confirming his growing popularit
  • But tied for first place we have “None”, meaning there is a large number of eHealth supplement and OTC brands that do NOT yet have an eCommerce in place
  • WooCommerce is a distance third but clearly, there is a lot of potential growth if it’s able to convince new sites to adopt WooCommerce and not Shopify
  • Another trend is shops that bet it all on Amazon. They don’t have their own shop and just redirect you to its own eStore page within Amazon. A risky option (IMHO) as you lost a lot of control on how you sell but obviously the easiest one to implement
  • There are still many custom solutions (probably created a few years ago) and a large variety of smaller players (some of them also seem kind of “legacy” decisions) that probably will consider moving to a more mainstream platform in the near future.

All in all, plenty of opportunities for eCommerce agencies as clearly:

  • More and more brands will make the move to open their own eCommerce store and
  • Many others will drop their custom / legacy solution in favour of a cheaper / easiert to maintain solution

 

Are there chatbots in supplement websites?

The quick answer is no. This is less of a surprise after seeing the previous results. If so many companies still lack a “proper” eCommerce, it’s no surprise they have not yet discovered the benefits of chatbots either. At least quite a few acknowledge the need to offer a way to better communicate with potential customers via live chat. But I would at least combine live chat and chatbots as often there is nobody available in the live chat which defeats its purpose.

Chatbots in eHealth

The evolution from None -> Live Chat -> Chatbot is also a natural one. Implementing a live chat solution is much easier than putitng in place a chatbot. We are the exception (as our bots are pretrained and already “born” as eCommerce experts) but, in general, creating a bot implies taking the time to, at the very least, think and define the conversations trees you want the chatbot to master. While a live chat is basically a drag and drop configuration. Then, of course, you’ll need to be there to answer the questions ;-).

Same as the growth potential of eCommerce in the eHealth domain, this low percentage of chatbot adoption also signals the huge opportunity we have to introduce eHealth chatbots in the market. We may have to add more health-oriented conversations to the bots (e.g. what are the ingredients, what is this supplement good for, can it be combined with this other supplement, what is the daily dose…). And we could even explore the integration of health language models like HealthSea for more personalized recommendations.

If you have an eCommerce site or a health-related site and want to learn more about how chatbots could help you sell more doing less, get in touch! Given that we are in a crowded and competitive market, a chatbot will for sure help you to stand out!

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