Lately, conversational commerce has ben used as a buzzword by some people. Moreover, it may seem like an obscure concept for some of us. In this article, you will learn more about this new, dominant trend and how it will have a major impact on eCommerce in the coming years.

What is conversational commerce?

According to Harris Interactive, there are more than 2 billion smartphone users in the world. We are becoming increasingly addicted to our smartphones and can’t spend much time without them.

No wonder why there is a growing interest in conversational commerce. Why am I telling you this? Well, conversational commerce is an approach that puts conversations between brands and their customers at the heart of the online customer journey. It sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Mobile-commerce

Mobile-commerce Often used to describe transactions more or less directly generated from messaging applications, conversational commerce also includes all conversations related to consumer engagement and conversion: a chat on a website or on mobile; an interaction on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram involving the sharing of a link; an offer or the sending of a buy button; etc.

These trends are evolving, but we this type of marketing is already becoming commonplace. However, it becomes essential for brands since they now have to face a major challenge: the ubiquity challenge.

What does the ubiquity challenge imply?

Handling large volumes of conversations can become overwhelming for brands. That’s why bots are becoming another business buzzword alongside conversational commerce. Do you need proof?

Have you heard of Facebook’s announcements during the F8 conference? Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Facebook’s bot store. This technology may seem promising but still struggles with some dysfunctions: with Poncho, for example. Besides, customer experience won’t get rid of humans anytime soon. First, bots are currently trained by humans.

For example, the attention of 2,000 agents is required to train and supervise Facebook M. Also, players of messaging bot services point out that, currently, 20% of conversations can be completely automated; 50% are supported by humans in charge of validating or correcting answers offered by bots, and 30% of them are handled solely by humans.

Uber example

While you are reading, I’m sure that you are now thinking about some examples you already know concerning this trend. Is the integration of Uber on Facebook Messenger familiar to you? If not, it’s very simple: you can now request an Uber ride directly on Facebook Messenger and get updates from your ride before its arrival.

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Also, conversational commerce is not going to disappear anytime soon. In fact, I’m almost certain we can say that it is developing for the long run. Why?It is simply because the use of messaging apps is booming! According to Business Insider, web users are now using messaging apps as much as they are using social networks, and Business Insider’s prediction goes far beyond this simple fact. The business site predicts that we will use more messaging apps than we will use social media in the near future.

Within three years from now, an additional 1.1 billion messaging apps users will join the existing 2.5 billion. This would suppose that there would be 3.6 billion users around the world in 2019 – almost one in two human beings! And that’s good news for companies which are planning to start using conversational commerce in their online strategy!

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Quartz: it’s also possible to chat with the news

It’s also possible to chat with the news. It may be surprising to see this particular app here, but conversational commerce has an impact on a lot of sectors in many original ways.

For example, the information industry has found a surprising way to take advantage of this upcoming hit. With the Quartz’s app, we can now text the news. Quartz is a conversational news app. It lets users chat with the news instead of just reading it. The most important news of the day is chosen by the Quartz team and is then delivered to the app’s users as a series of messages.

The most important ones are sent via push notifications. The news is written like text messages, with emojis and gifs. If users want to know more about a specific piece of information, they can reply with a message like ‘‘How good was last night’s game?’’ and they will receive another message from Quartz giving them more information. It is a mix of a chat with a friend and a serious newsfeed.

WhatsApp and WeChat the pioneers

WhatsApp and WeChat pioneered conversational commerce. They used this approach in China long before Westerners. Indeed, the Chinese buy online via their favorite app (WeChat for more than 600 million Chinese) on a daily basis. According to Mastercard, 70% of Chinese consumers make online purchases via their smartphones.

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Yet, in the United States, the share of global e-commerce sales of mobile platforms does not exceed 15%, and it is lower than 7,5% in Europe. How can this be explained? The mobile web and native apps are not yet up to the expectations of customer experience.

Every day, 30 billion messages are sent via WhatsApp, and 60% of WeChat users open the app more than 10 times a day. We are keen consumers of messaging apps, but we demand more efficiency from brands in the usage of these apps in their online strategies.

How does it impact e-commerce?

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare” (Chris Messina). The equation of an eCommerce website’s success is pretty simple: number of visitors x conversion rate x average basket value.

The easiest lever to activate is the first one: number of visitors. However, because e-commerce is currently converting only 2% of website visitors whereas traditional in-store commerce has an average conversion rate of more than 40%, we have to work on the other variables of the equation.

As iAdvize’s CEO Julien Hervouët says it, “brands must develop a strong brand image and add a human touch to the online customer service they offer.” What way is better than starting to use conversational commerce in your strategy?

Conversational commerce is perfectly in line with users’ practices. It’s all about engaging and interacting with visitors. You truly have to think about a strategy to adopt and not just start to use a platform for your customers to reach out to you. The effort has to come from both parts.

The new customer journey

Transforming ecommerce to make it more conversational represents a huge potential for ecommerce shops. This way, they will enrich the experience they offer to their customers. The interactions they will have with their visitors will be more authentic and feel more natural and less conventional. Why?

When you are in a messaging app, even if it’s a brand, it feels like you are talking to your friends and family via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. You use this kind of app on a daily basis. It feels like home. Conversational commerce enables you to interact in the same way when you’re talking to a brand about its products or services. It offers a proximity that doesn’t exist with an email, for example.

Tips to start using conversational commerce efficiently

If you already think that conversational commerce could be efficient for your brand, I would advise you to think hard about your strategy before starting to offer it to your customers. How many people will you be able to support? When will you offer this support? Who will you offer it to?

Conversational commerce is a powerful tool that can help you increase your ROI, get more productive, improve your brand image and e-reputation, and improve customer satisfaction by giving a real human experience to your customers. But you can engage with your visitors in real-time on many channels.

However, it can be quite time consuming, and clearly a waste of time if you don’t think about a strategy according to your customers and what they want. You have to be consistent in your online customer service strategy: a uniform tactic on all channels is key. If you use a conversational commerce platform, you will be able to focus on your customers and listen to what they want thanks to the different features of the said platforms.

Take the iAdvize platform: it enables you to manage all your real-time interactions (chats, calls, video calls, and on social media) from one single solution. This way, you can support online visitors and reduce average handling time thanks to the conversational display. Therefore, you can focus on high-value conversations. The important thing is to target and detect visitors who need your help the most.

Wrap up

Conversational Commerce is becoming a huge customer experience trend in 2016. Why does it matter? Simply because it can have an impact on all sectors related to eCommerce. It is transforming customer journey as we know it. In this article, you will find out more about this growing concept, how it impacts the eCommerce sector and we will give you some tips to start using this notion efficiently.

Ludivine Kasteleyn
I am interested in everything related to Marketing, Foreign Languages, Sports and the Web. I write content for the marketing team at iAdvize – a conversational commerce platform that enables businesses to engage their customers and prospects whether they’re on the website or on social media from one messaging solution – for the conversational commerce concept to be known by all.

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  1. Hi Ludivine. Really enjoyed the insights and metrics. You really don’t hear about conversational commerce much. Clearly there’s a need for it and its great to see how it works. These are just unbelievable numbers, wow! Great stuff.

    Reply

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