As retailers, you’re constantly whipping up ideas on how to take the customer shopping experience to the next level. From beacons and push notifications to social commerce and virtual reality, you want to stay ahead of your connected shoppers. Instead of staying ahead and waiting for consumers to catch up, why not just meet them where they are? It’s no surprise that the use of messaging apps has outpaced social networks over the last two years. And retailers are beginning to incorporate messaging apps into their omnichannel strategy. That’s where conversational commerce comes in.
What is Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce brings together messaging apps with shopping to allow consumers to interact with businesses via messaging apps such as WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or with voice technology. Shoppers can use these messaging apps to chat with business representatives, get customer support, ask questions, read reviews and ratings, receive personalized recommendations, and click to purchase all from within the app. With this growing popularity, conversational commerce will impact the way we shop, the way we communicate, and the way we market our brand.
The term, conversational commerce, was coined from Uber’s Chris Messina earlier this year. Like touch ID and mobile payment options, Messina forecasts that talking to brands over WeChat or other messaging apps will be normal. According to eMarketer, 1.4 billion consumers used messaging apps in 2015, up 31.6% from 2014. By 2018, 2 billion consumers are expected to continue using messaging apps.
What Messaging Apps Mean for Businesses
Social commerce will not longer be on top of the digital retail chain. Consumers are already using messaging apps from any device, anytime. This gives you, the retailer, the opportunity to provide the best customer experience, promote new products, increase brand awareness, and deliver personalized recommendations to consumers.
Messaging apps will begin to grow popularity for customer service and purchase capabilities. By using chatbots, businesses can add a conversational functionality to their omnichannel strategy to their existing app or site. Chatbots give businesses the ability to leverage their APIs to create automated customer service and engagement messages.
Chat is already a popular form of communication for customers to engage with a business privately. Leveraging chat to exchange conversations starts a long lasting relationship with your customer. And messaging apps will maintain that relationship. Your customer service reps can have real-time, effective, and casual conversations with the customer.
Messaging Apps Are More Convenient
The ultimate goal for conversational commerce is to make online shopping for customers easier, much easier. It brings the in-store customer service experience at the tip of their fingers. Messaging apps will grow to become channels that streamline the shopping journey from product discoverability to easy payments and tracking items customers ordered. In addition, this form of communication makes customer service much more personal and private. For example, customers can get advice about a product and chat about a complaint privately.
Last year, Facebook announced that users will be able to communicate with businesses and make purchases from the messenger. Businesses can send confirmations as well as shipping and delivery notifications in Facebook messenger.
So how far will conversational commerce go?
While we’re still waiting to see more success with social commerce, conversational commerce or #ConvComm may as well grow more rapidly as businesses are currently strategizing around the next big thing.