The Ultimate Guidebook for Conversational Commerce for 2021 and Beyond
Starting on an ironic note, one of the biggest endowments that the pandemic of 2020 left behind for any customer is the increased convenience of shopping.
Not only are customers shopping from home more frequently, but are also able to derive value from their shopping experience – whether tangible or intangible. customers have become more aware of what they have inadvertently become entitled to – attention.
Conversational commerce is stitching together a high-attention experience for the buyers – a conversation with the brand that is focused on one thing: the customer. Aiding their shopping experience through a chat window and completing all the formalities without them having to move away from the conversation is everything that conversational commerce is about.
Conversational commerce use cases, like digital assistants, present a great promise for the future of e-retail, according to Juniper Research. Their study states that by 2025, the global spend on c-commerce chatbots alone would reach 50% of the total.
The new normal is making retailers innovate like never before by leveraging every channel that a customer could populate. Messaging platforms have thus become more important than ever before, considering an average person spends about 20 minutes a day on messaging apps, which is set to increase to 24 daily minutes in 2022.
If you can leverage this statistic to your benefit, you can significantly boost your sales and customer loyalty. C-commerce opens up opportunities for an improved customer experience and one-stop-shop convenience, provided that it can act on it.
Let’s pick conversational commerce apart.
What is Conversational Commerce?
Simply put, conversational commerce is the method where brands engage their customers in a conversation – whether internet-based or otherwise – and aid their shopping activities (browsing, selection, shortlisting, purchases/payments, order confirmations, and shipping detail) right through the conversation window.
Doing so holds a two-fold, win-win benefit:
- Brands get to retain the customer on their channels.
- The customer gets the convenience of shopping through the chat window itself.
Conversational commerce goes one step further from virtual assistants and chatbots by being a holistic solution for the customer. Whether they are looking for a specific product or seeking answers to a query, or simply reaching out for assistance regarding their orders – conversational commerce is capable of handling it all. No wonder it is forecasted to account for a spend of $290 billion by 2025.
In effect, merchants can put together an exceptional shopping experience for their customers through a breezy conversation that doesn’t involve to-and-fro between channels or devices. Conversational commerce is an extremely thoughtful and end-to-end method, which focuses purely on the customer and his needs. Merchants can have it automated and powered with AI, or have it manned by humans if they have the means to.
One of the most liked conversational commerce examples is Live Chat. Statistics say that 52% of the customers admit to staying loyal to brands that have live chat on their channels. That is a ginormous metric, and it expresses perfectly well how conversational commerce is reshaping shopping.
C-commerce can be applied to merchanting in various ways. Let’s see what they are.
Various Forms of Conversational Commerce
From the more popular forms of C-commerce that you know of, like chatbots and live chat, there is another elephant in the room – messaging. Listed below are conversational commerce examples that are now in use every day.
Over-The-Top messaging, or internet-based messaging, has gradually transformed into an online marketplace where you can hold meaningful conversations with your customers. C-commerce is a booming practice today, on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. You may have noticed the “Business Account” tag on WhatsApp numbers at least once!
OTT messaging aids merchants in creating unique user profiles by extracting useful data from their chat – order history, preferences, past grievances, queries, etc. This further helps to tailor a supremely personalized experience each time the buyer returns.
RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. Think of it as SMS augmented with richer capabilities like multimedia, links to products, high-resolution images, group messaging capabilities, etc. These add-ons have made RCS as engaging as any OTT messaging app. GSMA has been promoting it for over a decade now, but it has only gained relevance now with conversational commerce.
Conventional, internet-based messaging is now inundated with marketers, and this is what gives an edge to RCS messaging, as it builds on the network’s traditional SMS. A merchant reaching out with conversational commerce to his customers through RCS will certainly catch attention.
Chatbots / Conversational AI
Almost every e-retailer today deploys a conversational AI solution to assist his customers better. For a shopper who knows what he wants, a chatbot is godsent. Let’s understand that with an example. Say you need to purchase a rollerball pen. You would head over to your favorite e-commerce store, punch in the keywords in the search bar, wait for the results, and scroll through 5 to 10 pages of sponsored products you didn’t ask for before you finally find your rollerball pen. A chatbot speeds you through straight to the last part – your pen.
A chatbot would simply ask you what you need. You would tell it the type and ink color of the pen you wish to buy; it will then display to you the available choices that match your criteria. You would choose one and place your order with the chatbot right there – it will be processed instantly. This is how simple shopping has become with the help of chatbots. In the next step, the bot would probably ask you if you need a notebook or a penholder, or perhaps a refill pack, because, why not?
Conversational AI is more intelligent than the example above (it was just an example). Through repeated interaction with the same brand, it will begin to recognize your shopping habits and make your experience simpler and more enjoyable by predicting your requirements based on shopping history. Say, for example, you came back to the same e-commerce store to find the bot asking you whether you need refills for your pen since you didn’t buy them the last time.
Countries like China, South Korea, and Japan have recognized the potential that chatbots hold, and are prepared to contribute 90% to the global spend on them by 2025!
This conversational commerce use case is a dark horse in the true sense. Quite surprisingly, starting from Baby Boomers through Millennials to Gen Z, shopping through voice-controlled virtual assistants accounts for 34%, 51%, and 45% of the population, respectively.
Assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Echo are stepping up the shopping game by taking conversational commerce to a new level: hands-free. This convenience is the reason that Statista forecasts the rise in digital voice assistants in homes worldwide to reach 8.4 billion by 2024. That number is higher than the population of the world right now!
Conversational commerce assumes a literal translation through voice-based virtual assistants. Buyers can simply “talk” to their Amazon Echo or Alexa and have it add items to the shopping cart on Amazon that can be checked out later. Running out of butter in the kitchen? Just voice your requirement to your digital voice assistant and it will cart some butter for you.
C-commerce is poised on the brink of transforming into part of a person’s lifestyle.
But…what’s in it for your business?
Benefits of Conversational Commerce for Businesses
While it does seem like customers stand to benefit more from c-commerce, your business, when deploying such applications, also has a lot to gain.
It Gives Sales a Boost
A study has found that 68% of people are more inclined to buy from brands that are easy to talk to. By offering multiple channels of communication to the customers, brands gain more opportunities to turn into conversions. What better method to let the customers buy from a brand than engaging them in meaningful conversations?
Customer Experience is Improved
The easier a brand is to buy from, the more the customers will love it. The world shops on Amazon because it has made the process super easy by integrating everything with voice commands through Alexa and Echo. Certain other brands employ the power of AI to understand what their customers intend to buy and assist them through their journey.
Putting together a seamless customer experience is made possible by conversational commerce.
It is Scalable
Conversational commerce implementations are scalable. Whether your business grows into other industries or if there is a surge in communications, c-commerce platforms support scaling at minimal investment and make it possible to optimize budgets without compromises.
Wondering how to put these benefits to good use? Here are some tips.
Success Tips With C-Commerce
Keep these little tips in mind to make the most out of your c-commerce applications.
- Humanize the conversation: Teach your conversational AI the way humans talk to each other. This will work to craft a natural conversation with your customers, even though they would still be speaking to a bot. It makes the entire exchange seem validated.
- Automate a few feedback messages so that when a conversation ends, your business gets feedback on how things went. This helps in plotting a learning curve for your AI applications.
- Give your customers a choice: Would they prefer to continue chatting or would they like a callback? When customers know that more channels of communication are open regarding their convenience, your brands get positive feedback.
A little effort goes a long way.
Conversational commerce has begun to revolutionize the way brands interact with buyers. As emphasized, this method of shopping is set to become something that can be done on the fly, without ever needing to pick up any device when augmented by voice-based virtual assistants. The present growth of conversational commerce guarantees a shining future.
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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