Remember all of those late ’90s and early 2000s films that delved into the possibility of robots taking over the world? We are far from that reality, but internet bots are playing an increasingly important role in online business. Most people who interact with them do not even know it.

A bot is a piece of software written to automate tasks that are otherwise performed manually. The great thing about the internet is that it is perfectly suited for bot technology. Being a digital platform, the internet provides a great foundation for developing and utilizing bots.

Here are five types of bots that make for better online business:

1. Chat Bots

Have you ever utilized online chat to contact customer service? If so, there is a good chance you have interacted with a chat bot. A chat bot is an automated tool that companies use to handle routine customer service tasks and answer frequently asked questions.

The most advanced chat bots can even simulate human conversation – and pretty convincingly at that. They cannot totally replace humans altogether, but they can handle customer service requests that do not require too much personalization.

2. Task Bots

Task bots represent a category rather than a particular type of bot. These are bots that perform some sort of task for the business owner. For example, consider the Poshmark bot. PoshyVA, a Poshmark virtual assistant provider, says poshers can use bots to automate closet sharing. They input the parameters and leave it to the bot to share their closets countless times per day.

3. Media Bots

Media bots represent another category of business automation tools. A media bot essentially does two things. First, it goes out and searches for information that website users want. Second, it displays that information in usable form.

A media bot might offer website visitors local or regional weather. It might scour the internet for important news, presenting what it finds in the form of a news ticker or RSS feed. Media bots can cover anything from politics to sports to lifestyle topics.

4. Spider Bots

The spider bot represents one of the first internet bots ever developed. Its main purpose is to crawl around the internet and collect information for indexing purposes. If you guessed that search engines represent the types of companies that would use spider bots most frequently, you are correct. In fact, the spider bot was originally a search engine tool.

Other types of companies utilize spider bots as well. For example, an online company whose business model involves some sort of information aggregation might use a spider bot as well. Websites that allow you to compare insurance policies or mortgage rates are good examples.

5. Trading Bots

The last type of bot on our list is the trading bot. This particular bot can take a number of forms. When it comes to investing in securities, a trading bot can automate trading functions on behalf of a client. The client simply enters their parameters for the day, then leaves the software to control the trades.

Trading bots are also utilized in online auction environments. They automate both the selling and buying processes. Sellers automate their auctions while buyers automate their bids. The software handles everything in between.

Online bots are nowhere near capable of taking over the world. No worries there. But they can make for better business. The key is designing a bot in such a way as to increase efficiency and productivity without alienating customers. Those who nail it tend to end up with a significant competitive edge.

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