Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Chatbot,Assistant,Conversation,,Ai,Artificial,Intelligence,Technology,Concept.,Casual,Business

The current way of talking to customers is getting more expensive and yielding fewer results. The main reason is that businesses speak to vast audiences, making communication impersonal and ineffective. Great conversations that lead to conversions can happen only when they’re relevant to the customers’ behavior, taste, and preferences. And this is where conversational commerce comes in.

With conversational commerce, the entire shopping experience – from product discovery to research to checkout – takes place on the customers’ terms, time, and channel. And that helps to build meaningful relationships and increase your ROI. What is conversational commerce, and why you should care.

Conversational commerce is the concept of reaching, nurturing, and acquiring customers directly on the messaging channels they’re already using. It’s a very different online shopping experience compared to the static information from physical stores, websites, and clunky apps. It allows your business to start direct conversations and opens many doors for potential customers to interact with your business in a way that suits their lifestyle.

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”- Chris Messina, Inventor of the Hashtag, 2016

61% of consumers consider messaging businesses more convenient than picking up the phone, and 85% agree that interacting with a business with messaging apps builds relationships.

Types of conversational commerce channels

Conversational commerce is available for every communication channel, whether it’s text, voice, social, self-help, or web chats. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are clear winners because of the growing number of users: WhatsApp is the number one messaging app with over 2 billion active users, and Messenger counts around 1.3 billion.

Benefits of conversational commerce 

Conversational commerce lets you recreate the experience your customers get in a typical corner store without asking them to leave the comfort of their couch. Here are only a few of the benefits of conversational commerce for both customers and businesses:

Information on demand

Conversational commerce enables the whole customer journey with timely information shared right when your customers need it, whether before, during, or after purchase.

Personalized interactions

Messaging apps help you personalize communications based on the customer’s profile by giving continuous access to details such as previous purchases, actions, and chat history.

End-to-end journeys

Taking on the full sales journey has never been more seamless. For example, with WhatsApp, you can facilitate even the actual payment moment without switching apps. Imagine the tremendous ease and value that creates for your customers.

Easy re-engagement

Conversational commerce creates an open line of communication where you can keep customers in the loop and always circle back when things are relevant again, which, in the long run, saves you both time and money.

Channel of preference

Till now, businesses dictated which channels they want to use to talk to customers. Conversational commerce is turning that around, leading to more impactful conversations and better results.

Asynchronous communication

With conversational commerce, customers have the luxury to do things at their own pace and explore as much as they want before making any decisions. The chat history will always be there after the initial message. And that’s a great customer experience.

How a major appliance and electronics retailer achieved an 80% conversion rate with WhatsApp Business

“Adding a WhatsApp button on our webshop — with the quick engagement to the stores — really helps Expert retain its customers, differentiate, and refresh its brand image.” – Micha van den Akker, Business Process Analyst

Expert, a Netherlands-based company, has an expansive network of +5,000 consumer electronics and appliance retailers in 22 European nations. MessageBird helped Expert adapt its in-store experience into online and messaging channels, by giving its 225-plus agents by adding a WhatsApp button throughout their online store. The outcome was a conversion rate of 80% to sales on inbound leads from product pages and around 50,000 WhatsApp messages from customers initiated every month!

If you’re still unsure about whether to add conversational commerce technology to your business, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want customers to feel like they were assisted through the buying process?
  • Do I see an opportunity to guide customers through the purchase funnel and remind them with notifications via direct chat?
  • Can I introduce them to products they are otherwise unaware of?
  • Are there opportunities to provide additional support and recommendations post-purchase?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, it might be time for you to start researching conversational commerce technologies that are agile, intelligent, and proactive.

Authored by

Vinay Bhartia, Country Director, Messagbird India

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members