Conversational Commerce Worth Talking About

by Raymond Pucci 0

People are talking about it—which is exactly why conversational commerce is currently on a rapid growth path. As the following article reports, retailers and chatbot platforms are scrambling to meet consumer demand.

Traditional retailers with large in-store presences are struggling to keep up with customer satisfaction now that customers have the option to shop via online and mobile phones. Customers can, and do, ask for support, take advantage of deals, and browse various stores within chat apps.

As a result, retailers are turning to chatbots to give customer more accessibility to merchants. These retail chatbots offer consumers a variety of options, generally in a question-and-answer format with the ability to complete tasks without ever leaving their messaging application.

However, without a buying functionality within the chat app, there is a partition in the customer experience that opens up opportunity for payment firms and card networks or processors to break through. The integration of messaging apps and online shopping allows businesses to utilize applications such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, or even voice technology like the Amazon Echo. Customers can chat with an AI robot and ask questions, receive customer commands and personalized recommendations, or purchase products all within one channel. With conversational commerce, customers are able to interact with human representatives, chatbots, or both.

Conversational commerce is not exclusive to only messenger chatbots, but also company representatives. For businesses, these e-commerce chatbots can be used to automate customer service messages and send information regarding their orders (such as shipping and delivery notifications) resolve any issues and interact with customers in real-time. Already, companies are partnering up with chat applications to create a simpler environment for customers to utilize their business.

Merchants are discovering a new sales channel and technology heavyweights such as Amazon and Google are happy to oblige. Count payments player, Mastercard, and social media giant, Facebook, as category participants as well. There is less than a 10% penetration of conversational commerce devices in U.S. households, but Amazon’s Echo with Alexa is receiving positive early reviews. This December, Apple’s HomePod with Siri will make its debut, which if successful, will be a big boost to conversational commerce among Apple’s large, early adopter customer base.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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