Have you ever landed on a website and *POP!* a chat bubble comes up out of nowhere? That right there is conversational commerce. In essence, conversational commerce is the integration of a messaging or chat application with online browsing and purchasing services, and more often than not, you’ll see them powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) interface, such as the chatbot bubble mentioned above. As Chris Messina, inventor of the hashtag and tech expert points out, “conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalisation, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”
Through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and voice technology like Amazon Alexa, customers can place orders, speak to customer service representatives and ask for personalised recommendations (among other things). Even better, conversational commerce startups will be able to send order and delivery confirmations, answer complex questions and resolve issues through chatbots, meaning that customers won’t have to leave the messaging app they’re using or toggle between pages.
Conversational Commerce Right Now
At the moment, i.e. conversational commerce 2018, some companies have already begun tailoring their business models to accommodate the developing conversational commerce field. Examples of AI conversational commerce include Amazon Echo, which allows users to check their Capital One bank accounts and make payments without having to actually visit the bank’s website or call them, and apps like WeChat that even allow you to call a cab, order food, schedule a doctor’s appointments and and online shop — all in one place!
It’s becoming clear that as consumers shift closer towards messaging apps (the number of consumers using them this year is around 2 billion) companies should absolutely tailor their eCommerce website development to support conversational commerce.
The Impact of Conversational Commerce on eCommerce
A chatbot’s abilities range from fairly basic to quite advanced. They can, of course, automatically answer simple questions — ones that you could probably answer for yourself if you were to visit the FAQ page. However, the truly impressive aspect of AI conversational commerce is that it can function as an actual in-store salesperson. This technology is so advanced that it has the capabilities of a human; the customer can ask a complex question or make a unique request, and the computer will sparse his or her words and understand exactly what the customer is asking for.
For example, chatbots can help put outfits together on a budget, or pick out a cool gift for a friend. A user can simply ask which pants would look better with white shoes, or which computer model is the best choice for a college student, and get a response right then and there. In short, conversational commerce is pretty much the closest thing you’ll get to face-to-face interaction without, well, interacting face-to-face.
We can now also pay through some messenger apps, which eliminates the tedious task of typing in credit card information and shipping address over and over again. Instead of having to go to a website, scour the many pages of options and input information, we can simply text into a messaging app: “I need a red shirt for under $30 to be shipped to me overnight,” and the item will be found, paid for and shipped to you.
The Impact of Conversational Commerce on Your Business
Don’t think that conversational commerce is only beneficial for your customers, because it has definite advantages for you as a business too! In fact, the conversational commerce market size will continue to increase because of how much it will grow your business.
For instance, conversational commerce increases your chances of reaching your consumer base in the first place. Because the messages are shorter with a more immediate call-to-action, and they provide notifications, users will be more likely see and open them. They can also respond to that message without leaving the app they are using; instead of having to close their email and go to your website to purchase something, they can simply press “buy”or type a quick message to find out more. In other words, conversational commerce cuts out the middleman and makes contributing to your company even easier.
Moreover, conversational commerce will allow you to reach your consumers where they spend most of their time: on messaging apps. It also means that customers will be much more satisfied with your customer service. After all, “live chat has a 73% customer satisfaction rate,” which is much higher than more traditional channels.
By reaching individual customers through these private forums, your chatbots can address each unique request, come to know your customers’ needs and intentions, and then answer them thoroughly. This type of personalised attention is exactly what customers are looking for, and exactly what helps businesses grow.
Lastly, as the technology continues to develop, conversational commerce can actually allow messaging apps to create custom ad campaigns automatically so business owners won’t have to. The applications will ask you which products to advertise, when to run the campaign and how much money to spend on it, and the end result will be a cost-effective and successful campaign!
Final Thoughts & TL;DR
We already know users are spending more time on messaging apps and less time on email. More than that, as Beerud Sheth, founder and CEO of conversational commerce platform, Gupshup, points out, “consumers can talk to their friends and family through messaging apps, [so] they expect to be able to talk to businesses and brands in the same way.” So why wouldn’t you go where your consumers are? Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of such an advantageous opportunity to streamline your communication with consumers?