For quite some time, a rule of survival for any company was to be where the customers are and this is now available to advertisers thanks to conversational commerce, a term popularized by Chris Messina in 2015 (Uber).
Over the past years, the evolution of mobile messaging applications has been exponential and has considerably changed the way people communicate. In fact, an increasing number of smartphone owners are now using their messaging applications as hubs for their online activities. According to the firm Activate, approximately 2.5 billion people are registered on at least one messaging application and experts estimate that come 2018, that number will climb to 3.6 billion or 90% of the global population with Internet access. This growing number of users represents a never-before-seen number of potential customers for companies in addition to changing the face of customer relations.
This practice of conversational commerce is already well underway in Asia where consumers order massively by way of the mobile messaging service, We Chat while Europe and North America are entering the starting blocks and beginning to meet the needs of digital consumers.
These applications go well beyond sharing texts and images, and offer very complete functions such as purchasing, bill paying, money transfers and much more over exisiting channels such as Skype, SnapChat, Viber, WeChat, Line, etc. with Facebook Messenger & WhatsApp leading the pack.
The following article aims to give a general overview of this new era’s impact on the digital ecosystem.
Conversation, the tangible embodiment of one-to-one communication with a customer enables among other things:
Conversation is at the center of the purchasing process and it makes everything easier, more personal, faster and it also makes it possible to keep in permanent contact with the customer. Further, payment becomes a very simple step which can be completed with a simple “yes” or for example, any other form of the affirmative.
Conversational commerce – if well optimized – will be more personal and closer to the customer; it will afford greater convenience, rapid resolution, and will increase brand loyalty.
These conversations organized through the use of robots, allows customers to instantaneously obtain the content they want and at their convenience, such as offers or notification of their order status.
On average, users spend the majority of their time on 5 of the 25 applications they have downloaded. Among these 25, the procedure is often the same: we download an application and end up deleting it.
Traditional applications are declining in favor of invisible applications that blend into the popular messaging applications, social media, SMS and e-mails. These applications, said to be “invisible”, are more accessible as users are in a position of power since they initiate the conversation. In effect, they can decide to send a message, “to add”, “to invite”, “to block”, “to contact”, etc. which they find reassuring.
However, marketers no longer need to convince users to download or install an application, or to connect to a web site; the advertiser will more likely make available a chatbot (a conversational agent) which will answer user requests by way of channels already known to the users such as Facebook or Messenger. These invisible apps means there can be no obstacles to adoption, no account creation, no password and so, no friction.
Rumor has it that Facebook could launch a “Bot Store” where companies could buy artificial intelligence systems developed to answer to their brand name by way of Messenger
With the increase in chatbots and artificial intelligence, more and more solutions and advanced services based on the simple sending of a message are available to merchants for communicating with their customers. Among the most popular, conciergerie services are multiplying with Facebook M, Magic in the United States or Clac des Doigts (Snap your fingers) in France. These new services should worry search engines as consumers will no longer necessarily have to use a search engine to, for instance, buy a present for a newborn. The process from gift suggestion to tracking the order will be done within a single application. To stay in the game, Google also plans to launch artificial intelligence in Hangout.
To summarize, conversational commerce is moving retail and marketing to a new era. The latter also changes customer experience which becomes more personal and more practical on the customer side as well as on the company side.
The data exchanged during a conversation can be stored, analyzed and compared, which enables ever stronger and optimized relations.
The true challenge will be to deliver relevant content at all times and to develop high-performance chatbots that meet customer requests and needs in an optimal manner, the final objective being that the customer forgets s/he is dealing with a robot.
So, something to follow closely 🙂