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What Is Conversational Commerce?

In 2015, Uber’s former Developer Experience Lead, Chris Messina, wrote a piece where he explored how to use messaging apps as a point of sale. He also gave a name to the practice: conversational commerce. On the occasion, most people didn’t know what conversational commerce was, but he cast a light on the discussion. 

In the article, he analyses how apps like Talk and Facebook, which had recently bought WhatsApp at the time, focused on enabling customers to reach them through messaging. Moreover, he noticed that big companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon also started to use their voice assistants to convert customer requests into potential sales.

So, how has this evolved six years later? In this article, we’ll discuss what is conversational commerce and why it became so important for eCommerce. 


So What Is Conversational Commerce?

In a few words, you can think of conversational commerce when businesses use messaging apps (or any other interactive media like a voice assistant) to communicate with their customers and guide them to place an order.  It is about sticking around through the whole buying journey. Consumers can directly get customer support, ask for personalized recommendations, check reviews, and have a talk with the company’s representatives.

The best thing is that they can do everything within a single app of their choice. It can be through live chat, WhatsApp Business, or Facebook Messenger, for example. Moreover, if a consumer decides to buy something, they don’t even have to leave the app

How much easier can it get? Thanks to conversational commerce, consumers can quickly interact with a chatbot or chat operator (and sometimes both). They leave the website or the app with a smile on their faces, and your business can only benefit from that.

Messaging apps build the path to improve customers’ loyalty. By using one of those services, you enhance your business’ customer experience. It’s the perfect occasion for companies to provide a personalized experience and find a way to be even more connected to their public. 

By offering them an excellent service, they won’t hesitate about shopping again. Additionally, they might end up referring your incredible services to others!


How Does It Work?

Think about your experience when you visit a store. Most of the time, a salesperson comes by and asks if you need help with anything. The conversation never starts with them asking for your email address to sign you up for their discount program. They will only mention that if they decide the information fits the conversation. 

The same goes for eCommerce. Visitors enjoy the fact that they can count on the chat in case they need any assistance. And if they start to chat – an attentive agent will be ready to provide the best solutions for them. It is a way to engage them in the conversation. It is now common to see brands that use in-app messaging or live chat to put visitors in contact with an agent. Besides answering questions about the products and services, the agents can see it as the perfect opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell. 

Is the person in the chat browsing raincoats while they speak to you? You can suggest some models. Is the person asking about trainers for a long-distance run? Except for offering shoes, you can tell them that you also have a nice selection of socks. 

Start simple! After taking the first steps, it gets easier to map customer’s needs and find the best ways to offer them a personalized and more “human-like” experience. 


What is Conversational Commerce – a Practical Example

So – what is conversational commerce? Is it still a bit unclear for you? If that’s the case, we can use a practical example. Vichy is a French dermo-cosmetics brand. They used an integration with Facebook Messenger to create a virtual assistant. By following a few steps, you can submit your skin type and what you are looking for to improve your skincare routine. 

According to the answers gathered, the virtual guide can suggest the most suitable products.

By following some steps and answering a few questions, the virtual guide can suggest the most appropriate products for the purposes you are looking for.

Without leaving the chat, you can read the reviews, pick the one you like best, and pay for it. A few months after the implementation of this service, Vichy had a conversion increase of 35%. Furthermore, they surely collected some precious consumer insights through it.


So How Can Your Company Be Sure to Generate Leads Through Conversational Commerce?

Firstly, consider the choice of channels you have and how they can become an inherent part of your business. Depending on the purposes you have, it may be time to go the omnichannel way. In other words, it means that you must be virtually everywhere – social media and retail touchpoints included, ready to let customers convert on any channel.

Consider your business goals and who is your target audience. Analyze where they spend most of their time, and you will have a better understanding of the best choice of channel to invest in. 

Independently from your choice, you can count on us to guide you through this journey!

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