What is Conversational Commerce and How to Take Advantage of It?

What is Conversational Commerce and How to Take Advantage of It?

The article was prepared by our trusted partner OpsWay, e-commerce ecosystem expert with hands on Magento development & support.

Conversational commerce terms just as chatbots and AI have been the buzzwords for a few years already. It seems we hear about them a couple of times per day, often controversial facts from the companies that have succeeded and those who failed.

In this article, we’ll discuss what is conversational commerce, how a digital marketing team can benefit from it, namely from messaging apps, and how a marketer can save money using the latest conversational commerce technology.

Let’s dive in.

What is conversational commerce?

Ever had a chat with a friendly bot while shopping online? That’s conversational commerce at work!

Conversational commerce is simply using social messaging apps, chatbots, or voice assistants to interact with customers during their customer journey.

Instead of clicking through endless menus or waiting on hold, you can just type or speak your questions, and bam!—you get instant answers and personalized recommendations.

You can use Telegram, Viber, WeChat, Slack, or Facebook Messenger to install a chatbot.

Moreover, texting is now not the only option for automated communication in real-time with your customers. With the use of Alexa and Google Home, you can answer customer questions with voice.

This tech-savvy approach blends the convenience of online shopping with the personal touch of face-to-face interaction. It’s like having personal shopping assistants who know exactly what you like and can guide you to the perfect purchase.

Types of conversational commerce

Now that we’ve got a grasp on what is conversational commerce, let’s dive into its different flavors, including how social media platforms play a crucial role in this domain.

Here are the main conversational commerce types you should know about:

1. Chatbots

These nifty little bots are like your personal shopping assistants, available 24/7 to chat with you on websites or mobile apps.

They can answer questions, provide product recommendations, and even help you complete purchases—all without ever needing a coffee break.

Integrating a conversational commerce tool into your platform can elevate these AI-powered chatbots, enhancing customer service and personalization by understanding customer needs faster and optimizing the customer journey.

2. Voice commerce

Hey Siri, can you order me a pizza? Voice commerce lets you shop with just the power of your voice.

Whether you’re asking Alexa to reorder toilet paper or telling Google Assistant to find the best deals on headphones, voice commerce brings the convenience of conversational commerce to smart speakers and virtual assistants.

3. Social messaging platforms

Who needs a phone call when you can just slide into someone’s DMs?

Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram DMs are becoming hotspots for conversational commerce.

Businesses can engage customers directly through these platforms, answering questions, showcasing products, and even accepting orders—all within the familiar interface of a messaging app.

4. Text message marketing

Remember when the only texts you received were from your mom reminding you to pick up milk? Well, now businesses are getting in on the action with text message marketing.

From sending out personalized promotions to offering exclusive deals, text message marketing allows businesses to reach customers directly on their smartphones, creating a direct line of communication that’s hard to ignore.

What are the benefits of conversational commerce?

Why should you care about conversational commerce?

It isn’t just a fancy buzzword—it’s a game-changer for both businesses and consumers alike.

Let’s break it down.

  1. Instant assistance: With conversational commerce, help is just a message away. No more elevator music or long wait times—just quick answers and solutions right when you need them.
  2. Personalized recommendations: Say goodbye to one-size-fits-all recommendations. With conversational commerce, you can tailor your suggestions based on customers’ preferences and past interactions.
  3. Seamless experience: Conversational commerce streamlines the shopping process by allowing customers to make purchases, schedule appointments, and more—all within their favorite messaging platforms or voice assistants.
  4. 24/7 availability: Conversational commerce operates around the clock, so customers can shop whenever inspiration strikes or emergencies arise.
  5. Increased customer satisfaction: Conversational commerce elevates customer satisfaction by providing instant support, personalized recommendations, and seamless transactions, leading to a more enjoyable and frictionless shopping experience.
  6. Improved customer retention: Through conversational commerce, you can guide customers through purchases, introduce new products, and use customer data to tailor communications, significantly boosting customer retention by making each interaction feel personal and valued.
  7. Increased customer engagement: Conversational commerce fosters deeper customer engagement through real-time, personalized conversations, enhancing the overall customer experience and building brand loyalty.

How to build a conversational commerce strategy?

Now let’s go through the process of introducing a chatbot into a marketing system. Will it replace the real people, marketers? Let’s see!

1. Marketing research

Launching a new product

Ask the subscribers what new products they would like to see from you and what they want to see in them.

Create fun polls with the help of a chatbot and engage customers, showing how the development goes. The more tailored to their needs and wishes the surveys will be, the more they will appreciate the possibility of creating a product together. And that will inevitably lead to more sales!

Using a chatbot for launching a new product you can save money on: marketing research team and time to collect the answers (you will get them automatically along with the statistics). The obvious benefits of conversational commerce are there for you.

Marketing of the established product

Chatting with potential customers via chatbot, you get an opportunity to collect much more data than a support team usually does.

As you can talk to your customers 24/7, the necessity to have a huge support team disappears.

However, you will receive more quantitative data like “yes” or “no” answers and still will have to conduct one-to-one customer interviews to gather qualitative data.

2. Brand management

People will not perceive a chatbot just as another tool to make money if you give it a human face. Remember, a chatbot reflects the way a brand speaks to its customers in real life, the way an online store treats the shoppers and its products.

According to research, customers interact with the chatbots in the following ways:

  • Shoppers think they talk to a human and expect it to behave accordingly.
  • About 40% of millennials say they interact with a bot daily.

A messenger that just returns “canned answers” cannot help you build trust and establish a strong connection with a brand. 

The more mature chatbot platforms will appear and the more widespread the use of AI for chatbots will become, the more meaningful conversations will occur there.

Conversational commerce: brand management

3. Media

If you’re producing a lot of great content on a blog and guest blog post a lot, you may find a chatbot quite useful as a lead distribution system.

Adding a post or two about your products will not look so spammy if you are consistently delivering value through the chatbot channel.

Moreover, you can collaborate with another chatbot relevant to your target audience. From cross-posting and organizing contests together, you can work on creating different co-marketing activities. Remember the most important rules: consistency and not being too annoying, one message per week is enough.

4. Customer support

On one hand, with the help of a chatbot, tool of conversational commerce you will be able to give answers to many questions your clients ask as soon as possible.

Moreover, chatbot allows you to provide the same level of service to everybody and support the consistent look of the organization.

That’s why customer support is a cornerstone of chatbot marketing, as it delivers on the promise of providing customers with swift assistance, whether they are in the process of making a purchase, or they are returning to your site in order to receive post-sale guidance in the event of an issue.

On another hand, you will not be able to address all the problems your shoppers will have and still will need humans to jump in to help.

While it’s relatively easy to help a person make an order online and choose the best option, it may be much harder to make changes to the existing order with the use of a chatbot.

Bear in mind that a chatbot for customer support will solve part of the problems, still leaving a part of the matter unsettled.

5. Shopping assistance

The best way to understand how “chatbot as a shopping assistant” function works is to look at a Starbucks app.

One of the most famous coffee houses offers its customers an option to order food through the chatbot in their app:

Conversational commerce: shopping assistance

Just say what you would like to drink today, and the AI will recognize your voice and make an order, so you can pay with a single tap.

Another “shopping” chatbots are designed to make checking the order status easier and give the shoppers more information about the product.

One way a marketer can engage with a person who has left a shopping cart is by remarketing with ads. But what about smart messaging? Push notifications make reaching out to a person at a needed time much easier than sending a promo email, one of the many a subscriber gets.

Designing perfect conversations in conversational commerce

The first thing that makes chatbot stand out from all other means of marketing communications is its programmability.

Of course, chatbots are in their early days now, but they learn and learn fast. Start with giving them a very simple basic conversation and the chatbot will be able to make and use thousands of simple variations of this conversation.

Even more, it will add a personal touch to each of them if needed. That being said you just give your chatbot clear incoming data and it will evolve on its own in a short span of time.

Tips to make chats with customers even sweeter

Make messages short.

Text is usually aligned to the right side so that a margin on the left side is left empty.

You have less space on the phone screen to fit in all the text, so please don’t make your subscribers scroll to read from beginning to end.

Follow the Twitter rule when necessary – less text but more informative.

Check before introducing a chatbot:

You will need to integrate a chatbot with a Shopping Cart and ensure the ease of this connection.

Chatbots allow you to give answers in seconds. But does speed matter the most in such brand communications?

Loyal customers are ready to wait for something they truly want. Building a great brand, you should focus on the quality of your message and its consistency.

Conversational commerce

Quantity doesn’t equal quality. If a store doesn’t express its true voice in a chat, the company may lose its biggest fans.

Those who didn’t have any interactions with a brand before and will use only a poorly performing chatbot, may make the conclusions on the quality of the products in general.

Some of the chatbot features marketers may be missing:

  • If a customer messages the company not during office hours, send him a prompt polite notification when he should get an answer from a real human,
  • As soon as you get his message and read it, notify him concerning the status of his submission,
  • Thank your customers. Thank them for making an order, for following you for some time, and for your loyalty.

Where bots fail?

A marketing manager can save money on stuff by introducing more automation and getting more data about the clients. However, not all issues can be solved by machines, and a smart human mind will still play a huge role in the success of the brand communications.

It is not a secret that after a boom of chatbots, some brands like Everlane and Spring, are dropping their Messenger Bots. Why? These companies claim that chatbots do not provide the desired level of communication and can be difficult to use.

Chatbots look like pages on social media – if your company has one, it doesn’t mean it uses it in the best possible way to acquire new customers and retain the existing ones. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that some other companies do not benefit from smart social media.

Creating a chatbot is not duplicating email marketing and social media in one channel, it is about creating a bot that behaves like a human. One, that will serve your customers as a best-performing colleague.

When we talk about human-sensitive cases, chatbots fail. Unless a marketer has predicted every possible situation and designed a great flow of answers, he will not be able to deliver a truly worthy experience without human customer support.

NLP technologies are progressing but are far from the desired level.

With all of that being said, should you invest time and resources in the chatbots?

  • First of all, chatbots are facilitating interactions with customers, making possible 24/7 availability and saving hundreds of dollars for companies. Chatbots allow marketers to automate at least 30% of work done in the contact centers.

  • Some researchers claim that by 2020 more than 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without the need of a human intermediary. The earlier you make the first step to the future, the easier it will be not to miss out after.

  • A new level of interaction. Being able to deliver personalized, timely, and reliable service and saving money on the call centers is a real thing. As AI technologies develop with time, chatbot communications will mature as well, leaving fewer and fewer “blind spots” in automated customer service.

Wrapping up

Chatbots can be much more than ordinary live chats if you make a chatbot a part of a marketing team. 

Collecting more data and making conversations with customers available 24/7 are just some of the benefits you will get. The further a marketer will go, the more possibilities to interact with potential and current clients he will see. 

Moreover, by supporting post-purchase queries, gathering insights, and facilitating data-driven decisions, conversational commerce plays a pivotal role in enhancing customer service, boosting loyalty, and fostering trust. 

These interactions contribute significantly to building long-term customer relationships and brand advocacy, ensuring repeat purchases and differentiating businesses in the competitive market.