Virtual staff replacing people on online sale chains

July 2, 2018 | 09:06 am GMT+7

Always polite, typing correctly and never losing their temper, ‘virtual officers’ or chatbots, a product of artificial intelligence, have become more common on online sale chains in Vietnam.


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“Hey Tran! Ban tim kiem gi ngay hom nay?” (Hey, Tran, what are you looking for today?). After the question, two options appear on the computer screen – ‘thoi trang nam’ (menswear) and ‘thoi trang nu’ (womenswear).

This is a typical conversation that online buyers in Vietnam may see when talking with customer care officers.

The officers, however, sometimes give answers which have no relation with the questions raised by buyers. 

Technology firms call the platform chatbot, a basic form of AI which operates independently in accordance with pre-established scenarios. 

The chatbot can automatically respond to questions or handle situations that have been scripted. The scope and intelligence of the chatbot depend on the capabilities of the person who installed it.

More and more businesses in Vietnam in different fields have been using chatbots as a solution to reduce operation costs and take care of customers at any time when necessary. 
A beauty salon, for example, uses chatbot to give consultancy to clients, while a startup uses chatbot to suggest addresses for parties.

A large chatbot developer in Vietnam stated that its platform now has 15,000 users just two months after launching.

Experts who attended Vietnam Mobile Day 2018 held some days ago all predicted a chatbot boom in the time to come, saying that businesses have realized their importance.

In Vietnam, the Messaging App is now popular and has become a marketing tool. 

Nguyen Thi Tra My, head of marketing division of Zalo Business, said that 98 percent of people open and read online messages, which is 4.9 times higher than emails. 

And according to Phan Van Hai, director of the northern branch of Haravan, 85 percent of users read messages on the first days, while the figure is 5-7 percent for email.

“Messaging Apps have been developing strongly, having exceeded social networks to become the major interaction platform,” My said.

Besides open source codes, Microsoft, Google and Facebook provide platforms to developers such as API.AI of Google, Microsoft Bot Framework and IBM Watson to create chatbots.

The technology and business communities think that chatbots will become increasingly popular as the number of internet and smartphone users increases.

According to Nielsen’s Duong Thanh Trung, there are about 49.5 million smartphones in Vietnam, with 58.4 million expected by 2020.