Get Ready for Conversational Commerce

Conversational Commerce has become the latest trend of the tech world. Everywhere you look there are articles about bots, notifications and chat apps that are being integrated with different aspects of commerce.

So what does it mean?

Well, conversational commerce is a bit of a catchall term for technology that allows people to purchase goods or services that they need simply by asking for them, either in a chat format, or via voice-activated digital assistants.

The emergence of conversational commerce is significant for a few reasons.

First, as of the end of 2015, mobile messaging apps have surpassed social networks in monthly active users. That means that more people use apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in a given month than use sites like Instagram and Twitter. That is huge.

Second, chat is already a very popular channel for businesses to engage with customers. When used for private communications between a consumer and a business, live chat has a 73% satisfaction rate. Compare that to 61% for email and only 44% for phone.

Also, a third of all mobile phone users interact with their mobile digital assistants every month.

Clearly, businesses want to go to where the people are, and this trend shows us that mobile messaging represents a huge opportunity for an untapped business marketplace.

Here’s how conversational commerce works.

Say you’re chatting with a friend in Facebook messenger, and she gives you an address to meet at. You tap the address and a contextual menu pops up asking if you want to do things like add the address to your contacts or open the address in Google Maps. You’re used to all this already. Here’s what’s new though. With conversational commerce, there’s also an option that says “request a ride.” You’ve just ordered an Uber using Facebook Messenger, without ever leaving the app. In fact, what I just described isn’t a hypothetical. That technology is already integrated into Facebook Messenger.

If you’ve ever seen Amazon Echo in action, you’ve witnessed another great example of conversation commerce that’s already hit the marketplace. Just tell Alexa you want more toilet paper, and it’ll show up at your door.

Conversational commerce relies on artificial intelligence to interpret a shoppers needs from their own words, and using that information, replace tasks like searching and navigation with simple dialogue. Brands that have started experimenting with conversational commerce and AI technology on their websites have already seen positive results. Shoppers are reporting a more positive experience that feels more akin to that of being in a brick and mortar store, and thus staying at sites longer and looking at more products.

We’ve also seen messaging apps being used as a way to pay for things and send and receive money. Snapchat and Facebook Messenger have both rolled out ways to make peer-to-peer payments just by typing into the conversation box.

Chat apps are primed to become everything from virtual assistants who can essentially do your online shopping for you, to content curators that can provide on demand relevant articles and videos based on your conversational cues.

For a glance at the future, we may need to look no further than China. WeChat, an incredibly popular messaging app in China, already has loads of integrations that you let you do things like order food, buy movie tickets, book a flight, even meet new people.

Conversational commerce is already here, and you should expect the trend to grow and grow quickly in the very near future. Not only is it cutting edge technology that Silicon Valley is very excited about, it also has potentially massive implications for businesses large and small.

Want to learn more about integrating conversational commerce or other recent marketing trends into your business growth strategy? Contact 10twelve for help.