When Uber’s Developer Experience Lead Chris Messina coined the term “conversational commerce” back in 2016, he was referring to a growing trend. Back then, online retailers started using communication apps like chat apps and voice assistants to talk to online customers. Messina correctly predicted this trend would grow and play an important role in improving the customer experience.
Now, Future Market Insights reports this branch of eCommerce is a $5.34 billion market and is present in an estimated 8% of the total global market. Instead of making customers wait for customer service to open, conversational commerce provides almost instantaneous responses to customer inquiries.
What could this mean for your business? Happier customers, more sales, and better data to grow your brand.
What Is Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce refers to the integration of communication apps with online shopping. It’s a popular method of answering queries from customers via the online store’s chat or voice services.
By applying automation to customer service, buyers no longer have to wait for business hours to talk to somebody. This is particularly useful when a customer is about to make a purchase but wants to clarify a small matter.
With conversational commerce addressing the issue in real-time, buyers can proceed with their purchase. This prevents incidents when customers, tired of waiting for a response, cancel their orders outright.
Types of Conversational Commerce
Conversational commerce mainly uses messaging, chat, and voice applications that are integrated with a seller’s shopping platform. By bringing the customer service platform to digital channels, shoppers can experience a new level of service that can convince them to make the sale.
Using a messaging tool, customers can now reach out to customer service representatives and talk to them in real-time. The support team can maintain the conversation via messaging to keep the customer engaged in the buying process.
If the support team successfully answers the customer’s questions or address their specific concerns, there’s a greater chance they’ll continue with the sales process and conclude with an actual order.
Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots take over when human support is unavailable. Using machine learning, these chatbots can answer common questions and facilitate orders within the app itself. At the same time, customers can request product feedback and reviews and get personalized suggestions. Most important of all, they can continue shopping and receive assistance without exiting the program.
Besides chat apps, voice technology software can also form a part of conversational commerce. Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa are some of the voice apps that made their way into many people’s homes. Apart from answering questions and engaging in two-way conversations, modern voice technology apps help customers order and pay for their online purchases.
Another source of conversational commerce is social media, which works as an extension of the brand store. Buyers can purchase within the social app. They can also use the post’s chat or comment features to communicate with the seller and ask additional questions. This action alerts the customer support team to initiate a conversation with the customer or deploy the automated chatbot.
The Benefits of Conversational Commerce
Conversational commerce delivers several benefits to your business:
Expanded Customer Service Coverage
Using automated systems greatly scales your customer service coverage. Businesses can now keep customer service systems available 24/7 via a combination of automated and manned shifts. At the same time, companies won’t have to worry about increasing staff (and payroll) to meet increased demand.
Chatbots have no problem conversing with thousands of customers simultaneously. Expanded service hours plus greater coverage eventually means the conversational commerce investment will generate a better return on investment faster.
Reduced Abandoned Cart Rates
Conversational commerce reduces or eliminates the occurrence of abandoned shopping carts due to a lack of real-time assistance. During a bulk purchase, buyers might want to ensure the store has enough inventory to fulfill the order. Or, a hesitant customer might want to check whether the store has the right size and color available.
Getting instant feedback from automated systems can assure these customers that their orders can be filled. Conversely, the longer they wait for a reply, the higher the chances they will give up shopping at the moment.
Better Data Collection and Increased Feedback
As conversational commerce increases the number of conversations between buyers and customer service, management stands to collect more helpful data. The availability of real-time interactions can encourage customers to engage and leave feedback about their experience. The more data analyzed, the better insights your business software can generate, which leads to better growth strategies and recommendations.
More Opportunities to Sell, Upsell, and Cross-Sell
Having typical sales information like price, stock, and color provided on demand can sway customers to complete the sales journey faster. The removal of wait times to get these basic questions answered–especially if the online store doesn’t display this information–is a great motivator to click the “Buy” button. In addition, increased customer conversations can lead to more opportunities to offer bundles, upsell, or cross-sell related products or services.
Is Conversational Commerce the Future of eCommerce?
Let’s face it: nobody enjoys waiting on the phone for the customer service hotline to patch you to the next available customer sales rep. Now, multiply this anxiety by a hundred when you’re in the midst of a purchase decision.
You’re ready to buy, and your payment system is all set. However, you won’t pull the trigger on the deal unless you confirm a few small details like stock or delivery time.
Thankfully, conversational commerce can address this issue by making customer service available on demand. Simply posting a message on the brand’s online store or social account is enough to start a conversation. Plus, by texting, you provide the other party with a copy of the message, reducing the chances of miscommunication.
In addition, having a direct conversation with a brand’s customer service agent is an appealing prospect to customers who demand personalized services. It doesn’t matter much if the chatbots issue somewhat generic answers. What matters more is that you respond to customers’ individual questions at the time they’re asked.
Companies are paying back those who took the time to visit brand sites by conversing with them. What’s not to like?
Bring the Future of eCommerce to You With Smart Merchandiser
If conversational commerce is the future of online shopping, then the future is happening now. With more and more people requiring personalized services and instant feedback, conversational commerce gives brands the means to converse and engage with customers.
Zobrist’s Smart Merchandiser gives online storefronts a unique visual eCommerce merchandise management solution. The SaaS application allows brand marketing teams to implement online merchandising changes in real-time using a single interface. In addition, Smart Merchandiser’s tight integration with the brand’s social media accounts means access to social insights without the need to visit each channel.
Smart Merchandiser provides improved visual merchandising without additional staff or manual, time-intensive product rearrangements. In fact, the Retail Tech Group named Zobrist Software one of the Top 10 Product Information Management Solutions Providers.
Learn more about how Smart Merchandiser and conversational commerce solutions can put your company and brand light years ahead into the future. Contact us today for a free demonstration.