In the past, shopping and advice went hand in hand. If you were looking for a new outfit, you had to go to a local store and get advice at the same time. But with the emergence of online shopping and the 24/7 accessibility of digital shopping platforms, the two have become disconnected – until now. This is because online retailers have now also discovered the advantages of direct (on-site) communication with customers. Those who do not use conversational commerce are missing an important opportunity to break out of the all-out price war.
Digital commerce, in which mobile commerce is playing an ever greater role, and social commerce, which is becoming increasingly important as a result of the increase in social media users: Today, digital shopping has taken on very different forms – and coined just as many different technical terms. So much “commerce” may be confusing at first glance, but it’s actually not that difficult to distinguish between them. After all, the word that precedes it already reveals where the focus of the respective type of commerce lies.
Conversational commerce is the trend
Conversational commerce is an area that has been gaining in importance in recent years – and one that online print service providers should definitely get to grips with. Here, too, the name gives it away: it’s all about communication, about a dialog with the customer, with the help of various communication media. These can be chats, but also various messenger services or voice-controlled assistants – all of which are now also AI-based, of course.
Conversational commerce is not new. The mechanisms behind it, as the Ryte Wiki nicely summarizes, were first described in 2014 by Dan Miller, lead analyst and founder of the American company Opus Research, in an essay on marketing trends – two years later, Chris Messina, chief developer at Uber, coined the term “conversational commerce” in an article on the online platform medium.com. According to the article, “Conversational commerce refers to the use of chat, messaging, or other user interfaces that rely on natural language to interact with people, brands, or services, as well as bots that previously had no place in an asynchronous dialogue within the messaging context.”
Why is conversational commerce so important?
Although online shopping scores points partly because of the 24/7 availability of web stores and interested parties can thus inform themselves independently and in detail about the products, the digital version of shopping is thus missing a component that should not be underestimated: advice. Without an exchange with an expert, the customer journey is shortened – and without a good customer journey, customers’ purchasing decisions are often ultimately made solely on the basis of price. So if you want to stand out from the competition and break out of the current price war, you should not only pay attention to an uncomplicated, pleasant customer journey from a technical point of view, but also pay special attention to communication with your customers. And that means real-time communication.
The forms of conversational commerce
In this context, the dialog with customers can take different forms: The most commonly used are chatbots that either work rule-based – and thus offer previously defined click structures – or self-learning AI chatbots with the option of entering free text. At the latest since ChatGPT and the hype surrounding AI-based language models, there is a lot of potential in self-learning AI chatbots in particular.
Conversational commerce can also take place via the familiar messenger services or, depending on the platform used – for example, if Instagram plays a role – also via the messengers integrated there. Those who use multiple channels have the option of bundling the various communication channels and processing them centrally using appropriate software.
What are the benefits of conversational commerce?
What sounds quite simple can, if implemented consistently, become an important cornerstone for customer loyalty and satisfaction and thus make a considerable contribution to the long-term success of a company.
For those who do not operate a customer service with “real people” still have the chance to take care of their customers via chatbots and messengers and to give them the feeling of being cared for and advised. And they can do this around the clock and from anywhere in the world. Those who already operate a customer service department, on the other hand, can relieve their call center staff.
The insights that can be gained from conversations with (potential) customers should also not be underestimated. After all, you learn about the needs of your target group primarily by talking to them. So if you also set up a system for recording and evaluating the information from the conversations, you can also serve your customers better as a result and thus retain their loyalty in the long term. This makes conversational commerce a win-win application for both sides, customers and suppliers.