Shopping and chatting with ease from anywhere. Who wouldn’t like that combination? That’s the underlying precept in conversational commerce.
If you’re still wondering what is conversational commerce? It’s a way of shopping or making any purchase online within a messaging or chat channel, like Facebook Messenger or Telegram by interacting with a brand’s chatbot. We open a messaging channel to interact with a brand, a chatbot welcomes us, asks how it can help, and we’re ultimately presented with just-the-right product or service we need. A virtual department store with a virtual salesperson, or a virtual assistant helping us place food or taxi orders: sounds like a refreshing at-home shopping and customer experience, yes? That’s because it’s meant to.
Chris Messina, coining the term in 2015, said, “Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” Enter e-commerce in the form of conversational commerce. The average female shopper will spend 400 hours shopping annually, and Americans spend more on jewelry, shoes and watches at $100 billion, than on higher education.
But brick-and-mortar retail shopping still dominates the market. E-commerce only accounts for 10% of total retail sales, reports Forbes. So it makes sense that brands want to offer alternate ways for customers to shop with ease.
Any business offering a service, whether it’s a meal, payment option or movie tickets can do so conversationally with a chatbot. Service as it once was, conversational and personalized, with a modern take.
To be successful, Facebook’s Product Marketing Communications Manager, Asher Rapkin, says “The question…is how do I take the thing that is best from my brand that will work best in conversation and move it there.” And the brands that identify these two important pieces are seeing success.
Here’s a look at top examples of brands and organizations using conversational commerce to success.
Search with, wait for it, an emoji for food recipes? That’s the fun of interacting with Whole Foods chatbot on Facebook Messenger. The brand offers recipe options, complete with dietary restriction filters, as a complimentary online service. You can go to the site and add the items to your shopping cart at any point. The brand’s superb use of a service tailored to organic-loving foodies is a great example of offering more value built into the steps a shopper can take before making a purchase.
E-bay keeps it simple. E-bay’s Messenger Shopbot allows you to look for products and make purchases within Messenger. Search according to price, popularity, and text or send a picture and the Shopbot learns from your orders to present you with personalized results.
On the other end of retail, in luxury shopping, Burberry has been extremely successful at offering a shopping experience positioned within an entertainment and customer service experience. The brand originally offered a look at the newest fashions and the ability to take a picture of the latest looks and to shop them. They’ve added notifications to any user for seasonal promotions, entertaining videos and more customer service for a well-rounded conversational experience.
In the real estate space, Trulia offers a practical solution to search. Enter location and pricing, let’s say, and Trulia will provide a list, along with updates for new homes on the market within your parameters. Trulia’s bot is most helpful for the questions buyers want to know about the area demographics. Trulia gives you a run-down on the neighborhood, including schools, median age and crime reports. This isn’t that much different than what’s offered on their current site. But instead of navigating a site, filtering and waiting for the update, you get the ease of entering all your parameters at once in one digestible summary — and where most consumers are spending most of their time online.
Absolut has thought of it all. They want to make it easy for consumers to engage and to receive personalized service from beginning to end. When first launched, the Absolut bot offered free cocktails and let a user know where those offers were nearby. Upon ordering at a location, Lyft offered you a ride back home. Nice. The brand launched in limited cities, strategic to where their customer base is, and the concierge-like service experience is a winner in clever and impeccable customer service.
In the last year, there are hundreds of examples of ecommerce in messaging. And these five examples show the range of how to create a shopping experience best tailored to your consumer needs and brand message. From practical to entertaining or luxurious, matching the experience with what your customers want when they engage with your brand is the way to be successful in the age of conversational commerce.