Technology Meetup Recap: Using Chatbots for Online Orders

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On Thursday, June 11, the American Booksellers Association presented a Technology Meetup on using chatbots for online orders. Sign up and learn more about ABA meetups here.

The guest speaker for this session was Angela Trigg of Haunted Bookshop in Mobile, Alabama, who has created a chatbot through which customers can place orders on the store’s website. The chatbot can detect if someone wants to order a book and then asks questions (like title, author, etc.) and records the answers to create an order note for the store through a third-party service.

In this session, booksellers heard about the online tools Trigg used and how she set it up, as well as saw a demonstration of how it works from the customer side.

Here are some of the key points from the session:

  • Customers can place orders through multiple channels: in-store, e-commerce, and by phone, as well as through social media, with only one of them being automated. For Haunted Bookshop, this resulted in general chaos and, sometimes, lost orders.
  • For special web orders, Trigg used a spreadsheet, which she then integrated with Trello and Zendesk. But she still had to manually add a Trello card for orders placed through different channels, including Facebook. Because of that, she tried to automate Facebook orders using ManyChat, a messenger bot. ManyChat has both a free and paid option.
  • On Facebook, the chatbot messages visitors to the bookstore’s page, prompting them to order a book, get directions, or contact the store. When a customer says “order a book,” the chatbot asks if the customer has checked the store’s website to see if it’s in stock. It then prompts them to choose if they’d like to order new or used, how they’d like it shipped, and so on. This conversation is automatically sent to Trello.
  • Users can customize messages and the order in which they’re sent. Welcome messages, default replies, and message trees or flows, which include things like contact information, directions, and order forms, can be set. 
  • Users can also set up customized keywords that are linked to specific actions. For example, Trigg set “order” as a keyword, which prompts the chatbot to open a specific message tree.
  • To create a flow, the service will walk users through how to add triggers, conditions, and the messages that link to them. Triggers can be based on keywords, dates and times, and tags. Messages can include different options, such as links, email addresses, and even information from Google Maps.
  • Users can also integrate different “growth tools,” such as a website chat function, a QR code opt-in, email links, and more.
  • If users have permission to use a customer’s cell phone number, they can also send SMS messages to remind customers of their orders.

A recording of this meetup, which features Trigg’s full demonstration, can be found on the Education Resources page on