A New E-commerce Era: Conversational Commerce
Conversational commerce is the latest talk of the town.
eCommerce has been a staple in our lives for decades, and as it continues to increase in popularity, it develops into something new. And while traditional online shopping isn’t going anywhere, the shift to conversational commerce is changing the game.
Conversational commerce is becoming more and more pervasive in our daily lives, from social media to the uber-popular Amazon Alexa devices to online retailers’ AI chatbots. It’s the start of a new era in e-commerce.
Conversational Commerce: The Basics
In 2015, Chris Messina coined the term, saying, “conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” Even more importantly, he anticipated its growth, believing that conversational commerce may become the primary method of a transaction on mobile devices.
According to Ohio University, “conversational commerce stands at the intersection of e-commerce activities and chat.” It is a new way for users to form an impression of a business or brand, just like a face-to-face conversation with a representative. The personal interaction of conversation commerce, whether with a voice command software or a chatbot, has changed the nature of e-commerce marketing to be an extension of personal online networks.
The Role of Social Media
Social media has helped eCommerce businesses grow, and conversational commerce is no exception. Businesses have created profiles on popular platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to connect with their customers. Businesses became a part of their customers’ personal networks, allowing them to market directly to consumers by sharing information about new products and events. Customers can send direct messages to these businesses via social media to ask questions, and eventually, to make purchases.
They can also use these platforms to share information about businesses with their friends, family, and other potential customers. Considering that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, word-of-mouth marketing has been vital to the success of e-commerce and the development of conversational commerce. Conversations are setting new standards for what is shared — and is, therefore, more successful — and what isn’t.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term “conversational commerce,” you’ve probably already participated in or heard about it from someone you know. Conversational commerce goes beyond chatting with bots or representatives on a business’s Facebook page. Making purchases using virtual personal assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Hey Google, or Siri is a form of conversational commerce — so is sending money via virtual wallets, like Snapchat’s Snapcash and person-to-person payment apps like Venmo and Zelle. And if Messina continues to be correct about the increasing popularity of conversational commerce, it will likely keep growing to encompass other mediums.
The Benefits of Conversational Commerce
Clearly, conversational commerce wouldn’t be flourishing if it wasn’t helpful for businesses and customers alike. Perhaps the biggest advantage of conversational commerce is how it adds to the customer experience. Chatbots and voice command assistants can help refine and personalize searches and keep the research and purchase of a product in one interface.
Best of all, conversational commerce fits how people make purchases now. Villanova University claims that Americans spend almost five hours per day, on average, on their smartphone, which is where 40 percent of smartphone users are doing their shopping. And when people do go to brick and mortar stores, they will research products on their phones to compare prices and read reviews before making a purchase. Conversational commerce is very mobile-friendly, making it a great way for consumers to improve their mobile shopping experience.
For businesses, conversational commerce can help you retain customers. The personalization of conversational commerce not only encourages customers to the checkout line, it encourages them to return. Best of all, there’s no wrong way to incorporate conversational commerce into your business. You have plenty of options, so do some research and figure out which chatbot or AI will work best for you.
Don’t underestimate the importance of conversational commerce as we move further into 2018 and beyond. Think about how to use this technology now and in the future. Conversational commerce will continue to spread, be streamlined, and become more efficient for consumers and businesses.