Conversational AI Platform

Conversational commerce and retail success post-Covid 19 – AskSid

How Conversational Commerce is Heralding a New Era of Retail in With The New Normal

Forecasts say that global retail is projected to reach a figure of $27 trillion by the end of 2022…now, that’s big.

Especially considering the exceptional circumstances that commerce worldwide went through in 2020 due to the pandemic, retail doesn’t seem to be feeling very daunted. If anything, it seems to have recovered from the minor setback it experienced due to COVID-19: minor, because in 2020, retail declined by a mere 2.8% from its previous score of 2019.

So…what is driving the retail sector?

Evolving from physical stores to e-commerce stores – and from there to shopping directly from the brand’s website – retail has all been about reaching the consumer the fastest and first. Each competitor in retail wants a monopoly over its consumers, thus wishes to keep them engaged with the brand as much as possible.

Leveraging the fact that over 95% of internet users are using some sort of chat/messaging app on their devices, the retail industry hit upon a genius idea. By empowering the chatbots they were using to engage customers, retail brands have begun to offer more services to them straight from the chat window. Hence, the term “conversational commerce“.

Let’s dig deeper into this.

What is Conversational Commerce?

Conversational commerce refers to the confluence of messaging apps and commerce into a single service window from where a brand can cater to its customers without them having to navigate away elsewhere.

In the context of competition, a brand that is capable of achieving sales through conversational commerce is not only providing its consumers with convenience but also serving them a great brand experience. Conversational commerce is, in every way, reimagining what shopping feels like living in a post-pandemic world, where everyone is on the internet and looking for the most convenient way to get shopping done.

Through conversational commerce, brands are now able to provide:

  • Assistance to shoppers regarding the products on their websites.
  • Personalized recommendations based on chat history recorded with a returning customer.
  • Pre-sales guidance to newcomers.
  • One-click purchase convenience through chat windows.
  • Delivery of order confirmation records, purchase invoices, and other official communications through the chat window.
  • Updates for orders on the messaging app – packaging, transit stage, shipping status, delivery updates, rider contact numbers, etc.

The versatility that conversational commerce has bestowed upon retail is unparalleled. Rather than addressing consumer needs through different channels – by requesting the consumer to hop from one app to another or across channels – brands are now bringing the entire store to them on a single window. The true power and the quintessence of online shopping is finally being realized.

Conversational commerce is bringing the online store experience closer (and closer still) to the traditional, in-person shopping experience.

Conversational Commerce – An Acumination for Retail

Up until recently, retail has been about selling merchandise. It is thanks to technology and digitalization that that outlook is changing rapidly (also accelerated by the pandemic) and transforming into crafting an unforgettable shopping experience for the consumers. At the root of it, vicious competition is the basal driver; however, necessity is the mother of invention and, today, innovation too.

With the big names like Facebook and Uber tying the knot to drive sales and boost each other’s business, a majority of commerce businesses have taken note and followed suit. Imagine the convenience of booking a taxi straight from your Messenger app after planning to meet up with a long-lost friend you finally found on Facebook! This is what businesses are aiming for today.

Another important factor that has slingshotted conversational commerce for retail into the limelight is the app saturation that consumers are dealing with today. There was a time in the recent past when every business had its app that it promoted vigorously to the consumers. There were exciting offers and first-time shopper discounts – the works – that consumers could avail themselves of on the apps if they shopped from that channel. While it did do the trick and got retailers a lot of customers, a side-effect began to emerge like a slow-burner: the consumers’ devices became inundated with apps that they were unlikely to use frequently. Not only did these apps occupy precious real estate on a user’s device, but also created a barrage of notifications that were downright distracting for the user.

This saturation begged for a more efficient solution. Considering how the pandemic restricted people inside the boundaries of their homes, messaging apps assumed importance at a whole new level – which commerce managed to leverage cleverly and effectively.

A successful sale in contemporary terms isn’t about bringing a consumer to you – rather reaching a consumer where he is. In 2020, there were a total of 146 million users of mobile messaging apps in the USA alone.

 Messaging is where the consumer is – it is where retail should be, too.

The Tools of Conversational Commerce

Conversational commerce isn’t a straightforward, plug-and-play technology; it is a combination of various tools, enablers, and catalyzers that make a one-stop-shop online environment possible for a consumer. Here is a comprehensive list.

Messaging Applications

To boot, a retailer needs to be present on messaging platforms to be able to reach consumers there. Messaging does quite a few things for customer engagement and retention:

  • A private chat window creates a personalized shopping environment.
  • The shopping assistants can directly interact with the customer one-on-one, emulating an in-store experience digitally.
  • The conversations thus held are organic, genuine, and targeted towards consumer needs. This data is important for improving customer experience in the future. This helps improve conversion rates.

Conversational AI

Artificial intelligence is everywhere today, and retail is an industry that is utilizing AI capability like never before. By implementing conversational AI through chatbots or virtual assistants, conversational commerce can eliminate human intervention from the chat bubble with a consumer. The AI application drives itself – with the help of machine learning and deep learning – and learns from iterations, crafting a better user experience with each interaction.

Real-Time Chat

Also called “Live Chat”, this tool is gaining popularity with consumers as it gives them prompt answers to queries. Live chats today are majorly “manned” by chatbots! Sometimes a human may interfere where a consumer query goes beyond the scope of the chatbot.

Voice-Based Assistant

Conversational commerce is touching new heights with voice-based virtual assistance where consumers can speak to their virtual assistants to get shopping done – this enables a high level of convenience for the consumer.

With the use of machine learning, natural language processing, and efficient consumer communications systems, C-commerce is set to become the next big thing. It is gaining momentum by the day, and in a matter of months, consumers will be able to enjoy extremely simplified and quick shopping experiences online – from the comfort of their homes and without having to hop between apps or channels.

Way forward…

Conversational commerce is still in its hatchling stages; however, the stage is set for it to grow and become the mainstream retail experience that consumers are searching for online. The immense potential lying latent in this application of AI can get retailers the kind of crowd they want to see, and consumers the kind of convenience they want to experience.

About AskSid

AskSid is a global conversational solutions company that partners with retail brands to elevate shopping experiences by leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence. Our capabilities extend beyond support automation, extending to insight extraction, analysis, and business opportunity generation, all by leveraging the power of conversational data. We combine domain expertise and cutting-edge technology to build a Retail AI Brain for our clients, that mines insights from conversational data and becomes the basis of the business opportunity creation we offer. The power of actionable customer data has allowed us to create value and bring change to global brands including AkzoNobel, Danone, Wolford, Akris, and Himalaya. AskSid has live implementations in 23+ countries and supports 100+ international languages, managing millions of satisfied customers the world over. 

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