Modern communication technology has reshaped the world. The way we interact, work, socialize, and more have all turned on their heads in recent years. The evolution has been even more striking in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today, you can get customer support through a work from home call center. You can hold a high-end business meeting via a video call from your living room. Ecommerce hasn’t got left behind by this tech revolution, either. 

Online retailers now have multiple communication channels at their disposal. They’re only just starting to discover all the opportunities which that affords. One such is the possibility of implementing conversational commerce. 

Defining Conversational Commerce

Conversational commerce is a phrase made famous by Uber’s Chris Messina. In 2015, he stated that:

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”

But what does that really mean? In essence, it means the way consumers interact with ecommerce brands is changing. No longer is the online shopping experience a passive one on the part of the retailer. 

Before, you might have browsed an ecommerce site, chosen an item, and made a purchase. Now, things are more dynamic. Site visitors interact with the brand via messaging apps or chatbots. They ask how to find specific products. They inquire about offers or the specifications of items they’re interested in.

Online customers have real conversations with reps of the brands from which they buy. It’s good old-fashioned personal service for the online realm. It's all made possible by the latest tech and solutions like Facebook Messenger or other IM apps. 

What it Means for Businesses

If you’re an ecommerce brand, you can’t afford to let the conversational commerce trend pass you by. It represents what’s set to be a long-lasting shift in how customers and retailers interact. 

IM channels and apps are increasingly popular for all manner of communication. It’s how many of us stay in touch with friends and family. It stands to reason that these preferences will extend to interacting with companies.

As a brand, it’s your responsibility to meet customers where they are. More than that, though, conversational commerce offers other opportunities. A higher volume of interactions with customers, for instance, gives you more data. You can use that for more effective CRM or demand forecasting.   

Furthermore, you can train your staff - perhaps using online learning tools in the Covid era - to make conversational commerce boost sales. A successful IM interaction, after all, removes the last objections a customer has to buy. 

Your agent can ease their concerns and guide them to the checkout. Before, they may have spent a little time searching your site for answers. If they couldn’t readily find them, though, they’d bounce. 

What it Means for Consumers

The growth of conversational commerce is part of a broader consumer trend. That is the increasing realization that customer experience is king. That, coupled with the understanding that tech can aid in delivering outstanding experiences. 

Customer experience is a modern trend built on ancient foundations. In essence, it’s the online embodiment of the age-old idea that “the customer is always right”. Online brands are striving to offer a more personalized service. Service of the kind that shop assistants have provided in person for decades. 

It’s apparent how conversational commerce fits into this trend perfectly. It also marries with the related pattern of consumers becoming more trusting of tech. People now realize that even the most vital interactions can get handled virtually. You only need to look at established telemedicine providers and the healthcare services they offer to prove that.

If someone can trust a diagnosis over a video call, why not trust purchase advice via IM. There’s no logical reason, and consumers have grasped the fact. With conversational commerce, buying online becomes easier, faster, and more efficient.  

Conclusion

How brands serve their customers is always evolving. Today, tech plays a massive role in defining the direction of that evolution. One of the most notable recent trends has been towards conversational commerce. 

IM channels and chatbots offer online shoppers a more personalized way of buying. They can chat about products, promotions, delivery, and more. They can get shown the best items to meet their needs. In short, they can get all the aid they would receive from the most informed assistant in-store. 

There’s no getting away from it; conversational commerce is part of the future of ecommerce.

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