Conversational Commerce: Trend or Revolution?
The days when we had to drive to the store ourselves to get a desired product are long gone.
E-commerce has long since become a companion to our everyday lives, and it is by no means standing still. Websites impress with exciting features such as parallax scrolling, there are special shopping apps for uncomplicated shopping via smartphone and, as a more recent innovation, conversational commerce is now joining the ranks.
This new type of marketing focuses on the interaction between user and seller. It involves messaging apps as well as social platforms that potential customers already use anyway. In this way, the shopping experience is made as convenient as possible. Reason enough why conversational commerce is in all likelihood not just a passing trend, but a constant further development of e-commerce.
What is Conversational Commerce?
At the beginning of e-commerce, there were only the websites of online companies through which one could purchase products or services. Subsequently, technical progress brought with it the apps, which made handling on mobile devices much more user-friendly.
Conversational commerce now represents the next stage of evolution. An era is beginning in which we can no longer store only via the website or the app, but also via messenger services such as WhatsApp, social media platforms, or voice assistants such as Siri or Alexa.
This new form of marketing is all about dialog, the conversation between potential customers and sellers. This development is only natural; after all, these are Internet services that are already used by a large part of the population. So why not profitably combine this with e-commerce?
With conversational commerce, however, it is not primarily a matter of being able to conclude a purchase via the tool; the special feature starts much earlier: customers should be able to get in touch with the online store via WhatsApp and the like, establish a connection, get advice, ask questions, and then only in the final step also make the purchase decision.
The concept of conversational commerce was introduced by Chris Messina. The then Uber driver published an article on this topic in 2015.
C-Commerce as a Special Form of E-Commerce
E-commerce (electronic commerce) represents the generic term for digital buying or selling. C-commerce, or conversational commerce, is a special sub-form of this. C-commerce is therefore a part of e-commerce.
How Do I Operate Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce is about optimizing the entire customer journey by providing users with quick information about products or services at any time. There are a few different options you can base this on.
One way to do conversational commerce is by offering messenger services. Chat tools are a popular medium through which users can obtain information in a straightforward manner. Often, it’s just answering a small question that would lead one to make a purchase decision.
Picking up the phone or spending a long time searching for an answer on the website is too inconvenient for many customers. The majority of all customers prefer to contact the online store via a Messenger service. This is the result of a study by MessengerPeople. According to the study, 85% of users are in favor of a chat tool. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are particularly popular, as these are apps that most smartphone users already have installed on their devices anyway.
“Alexa – order new washing powder” – digital voice assistants such as Alexa or Siri are one of the most modern communication channels in the field of conversational commerce. In contrast to chat, the customer no longer even has to compose a text message, but can simply voice their request.
This variant of conversational commerce is also known as voice commerce. Although this is probably the most convenient way for users to make contact, this type of marketing is not yet very widespread.
The linchpin of conversational commerce is that the customer gets quick answers in an uncomplicated way. To ensure this, employees would have to be permanently employed to operate the communication tools. This is very resource-intensive and only profitable for a few companies.
An alternative or partial alternative can be so-called chatbots. These are pre-programmed and can provide automated answers to customer concerns. This can be used to cover the most frequently asked questions, which in most cases are the reason for users to contact the company.
Consequently, no human action is initially required when a customer contacts the online store via a communication service. If the customer is not helped further via the chatbot, a redirection to a human employee is of course necessary. But even here, the chatbot can already request some preliminary information to keep the time required low.
Chatbots can be implemented directly on the website of the online store or also via the popular messenger services. With the increasing use of pre-programmed interlocutors, customers have become accustomed to communicating with a robot. According to MessengerPeople, in 2020, it was already about two-thirds of Internet users who have already been in contact with a chatbot.
Advantages and disadvantages
C-Commerce offers numerous advantages for companies. This is also shown by the fact that this type of online commerce is already commonplace in other countries. For example, c-commerce is widespread in the U.S., and users in China can also order products via WeChat, a well-known messenger app, and also pay via the service. We have summarized the advantages of C-Commerce for you in the overview:
- Use of apps or services that are already used by a large part of the population.
- No need to develop in-house apps, which saves costs.
- Closer contact with the customer, allowing greater influence to be exerted on the customer journey.
- Chatbots enable 24/7 customer service
- Users have a quick and easy way to get in touch, which can positively influence the purchase decision.
- C-Commerce appeals to a broad target group (WhatsApp, for example, is not only used by the younger population).
On the downside, it can be argued that a certain amount of know-how is required to successfully implement conversational commerce. A certain amount of expertise is required to be able to create a user-friendly conversation flow. If this is not successful, the customer may react negatively. A specialized software or e-commerce agency can help here.
The lack of flexibility of chatbots can also be listed as a shortcoming in this context. After all, it limits the bot to what has been pre-programmed. Feedback requests from customers about the service via the chatbot can be helpful to make constant optimizations.
If after all the theories you are now convinced to use conversational commerce for your business, you don’t have to do the development all by yourself. There are plenty of tools that come with chatbots, mobile messaging, and other features to get you started easily with this new way of marketing.
Some of the best tools to optimize your customer journey and strengthen customer engagement are:
Example of Conversational Commerce
Let’s use a simple example to illustrate the function of conversational commerce: Let’s assume a user is browsing in an online bookstore and finds the desired copy. However, he would prefer to have the product in hardcover instead of paperback format. Since he cannot find this option directly on the website, he clicks on the chat icon, which starts WhatsApp.
There, the user describes his request and receives positive feedback that the product is available with a hardcover. The link to the product is sent and the user is asked whether he wants to purchase it. Upon confirmation, the customer is sent another link in Messenger with the payment request. The entire purchase process can therefore be handled via the communication tool.
Conclusion on Conversational Commerce
As the example illustrates very well, conversational commerce is the ideal complement to Iherm’s already existing online store. Through artificial intelligence, you can not only take your company’s communication to the next level, but also be present in the popular messaging services.