Conversational commerce: A guide
In an effort to provide the best possible shopping experience, e-commerce has turned towards adopting conversational commerce.
To understand what conversational commerce is, we first need to look at the big picture.
E-commerce, as a whole, refers to the buying and selling of goods over the internet. But there are a couple of ways of carrying out these purchases.
Usually, it’s done through a web or mobile app, where the customers browse through a website, click to buy, and that’s it - “Expect a package between 4-6 business days.”
Conversational commerce platforms is a different approach to e-commerce - one that’s more interactive and relies more on communicating with the customer through the entire buying journey. In other words, it’s all about transforming the buying journey into a conversation. You could compare conversational commerce to buying in stores with the exception of it being carried out through a digital medium - which is why conversational commerce has become the latest trend in e-commerce.
How it impacts shoppers
The speed of traditional e-commerce methods can’t be beat. It’s convenient, one click-of-a-button and your package is on its way. It works as an alternative to going to the store because when you’re familiar with the product and e-commerce platforms provide a way to streamline the buying process.
This method works well with products that are either well-established, or products that customers are already familiar with. But when it comes to exploring new products, customers either rely on:
- Their own experiences
- Recommendations from friends
- The sales person in front of them urging to try the product out
When customers shop online, they’re rarely exploring new products. They’re usually buying things they know work. This helps well established companies, but not young brands & businesses that are just starting out.
That’s where conversational commerce comes in
Let’s take a journey to the last time you bought something from a new brand. There might have been something that caught your eye, drawing you closer and closer to the product. Followed by a lovely conversation with a salesperson, a lighter wallet, and an arm full of goodies.
Online shopping follows a similar pattern, narrowed down into these steps:
Awareness - Recognizing the need for a product
Research - Inquiring about the product
Consideration - Finding alternatives
Conversion - Making a purchase
Awareness is easy. Simply putting ads out, or putting recommendations in the sidebar of your website is all it takes. But you lose customers when you don’t provide enough information in an interactive way.
Most e-commerce websites put all of the information they believe a customer needs in the product description section of their website. But no one wants information to be presented in that way.
It has the same effect of walking by a perfume stall and getting a brochure instead of a sample. People want to experience the product. They want to understand the product, which is why having a salesperson is so empowering. A salesperson works as a brand ambassador, answering questions about the product while building a relationship between your prospective customers and your brand.
A product description won’t accomplish this, but you know what will? A conversation.
It doesn’t have to happen just offline. A simple interaction between a customer and a chatbot can build a more significant relationship than reading a product description. And if this interaction answers all of your customer’s questions, the customer will be ready to make a purchase without considering competitors. And your chatbot can carry that out without jumping between windows as well.
In other words, conversational commerce provides an easier way to navigate through the purchase journey.
Where it goes wrong
A lot of businesses assume that conversational commerce is the equivalent of using a chatbot as a cashier, but it’s more than that. It’s about using a chatbot (or a live agent) to engage with customers through the purchase journey, from start to finish.
A couple of things to keep in mind when implementing conversational commerce solutions for your business/brand:
1. Be visible on the platforms your customers are active on
You wouldn’t operate in a place where the population is scarce, would you? Think about this the same way. If your customers are on WhatsApp, move to WhatsApp; If they’re mainly on Facebook, move to Facebook Messenger. And if they’re visible on both, why not both?
2. Make it conversational
Chatbots are the frontline of your website, so add your own creative flair to them. Make them interactive, make them conversational. Design your chatbot as if they are a salesperson, but don’t underestimate the power of a live agent.
Remember that conversational commerce isn’t only limited to chatbots. Add the human element by adding live chat into the mix, especially to handle more complex interactions.
3. Do not focus only on the sale
Conversational commerce can streamline all processes of the purchase journey, but most businesses tend to focus only on the conversion phase. You have to remember that the most influential part of the purchase journey is the research phase. If a customer leaves your website to research about your product on their own, you are actually empowering them to make the decision. Done well, this can build a strong connection between the potential customer and your brand
A chatbot, coupled with a live agent can handle product inquiries and streamline the process of buying - it’s up to you to allow them to.
Where conversational commerce is winning
Blibli is one of the largest Indonesian e-commerce platforms, with a focus on delivering the best shopping experience for a better life. Using a Messenger chatbot, Blibli was able to provide a quick and easy way for customers to buy products. From product search, to cart management, this chatbot made it possible to drive the entire purchase process and drive sales without any human assistance.
360 Mall, based in Kuwait, acts as a virtual assistant through the shopping experience. It pings customers and alerts them whenever there are promotions going on, and answers any questions in real-time.
Gruppi is a Hungarian online retailer specializing in home improvement, hardware, and electronics. Through their chatbot, Gréti, customers have the ability to browse through the website’s catalogue. Their chatbots also provide recommendations based on the customer’s interests and provide additional customer support as well.
Ride the conversational commerce wave
With the combination of chatbots and Live Chat, you too can ride the conversational commerce wave as well. And with Engati’s digital CX solutions, you can get started for free.
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