"Predicting the future is not magic, it is artificial intelligence." - Dave Waters
Even though many people in the industry do not completely understand this word and the concept behind, Artificial Intelligence has made a successful impact on people's lives, both personally and professionally.
A recent survey reported that more than 85% of global executives believe that AI gives them that competitive advantage that helps them stay ahead of the curve.
Out of so many applications which incorporate AI, chatbots are the ones which are the most popular right now and are considered to be the future channel for customer service.
- 80% of the organizations want chatbots for their business by 2020.
- Chatbots are expected to cut cost in businesses by a whopping $8 Billion in the next 5 years.
Along with the already popular applications and the industries served, ecommerce is one sector that
is rapidly growing with Artificial Intelligence powered Chatbots.
- 47% of the users would have no problems in purchasing items through a bot.
- On average, users are ready to shell out more than $55 on chatbot purchases.
These figures point out that customers trust chatbots and use it as a primary way to interact with businesses.
Planning to buy a pair of shoes online? Just chat and shop, with ease, from anywhere! Who wouldn't like this?? This is exactly what "Conversational Commerce" is about.
If you are still wondering what the hell am I talking about, have you ever opened up a messaging channel (Facebook messenger, Google Allo or WhatsApp) to interact with a brand and you were greeted by a chatbot which was eager to help with the product you were looking for?? Imagine this.
You are looking for a jacket, and you tell the bot, "I need a jacket, blue in color." The chatbot then provides recommendations, further filtered down based on price and other factors. And when you find the right one, you just click purchase. This is Conversational Commerce in a nutshell.
Why Do Businesses Need Conversational Commerce?
Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence are really cool and all that, but the million dollar question looming
over the industry right now is why do businesses need conversational commerce. The recent technological advancements have had a huge impact on businesses and there is no denying the fact that conversational commerce can change the dynamics.
However, is it advisable to spend your money and time on a futuristic technology if it does not bring in any advantage?
1. Mobile Commerce - All the way from 1997
The history of mobile commerce goes all the ay back to 1997 when people used messages to buy ringtones and other paying services. Since then, it has grown so much so that, its revenue is expected to be $700 Billion by 2019.
However, customers have always been reluctant to buy stuff from their smartphones owing to security issues and other factors. With the inception of conversational commerce and chatbots, mobile commerce is facing a completely new phase. Customers can now order a pizza right in the middle of a conversation on Facebook Messenger.
"Alexa, order me a ..... " and the rest is taken care by the amazon's echo device. By making the entire process of shopping, from selection to payment, easy within the flow of a conversation on an app has allowed mobile commerce to flourish as one of the most important and powerful channels in the omni-channel world.
2. It Is Not Just About Chatbots
One thing that hits the businesses when we talk about conversational commerce and chatbots is the thought that it is just another old bot trying hard to get back to their customers. However, the growth in technology has ensured that conversational commerce is diverse and not just limited to the plain texts from the bots.
Interfacing with the internet of things has already changed the way people do most of the things - searching for a restaurant to eat or book a flight or even order a pair of shoes. Alexa, Google Home, and many other AI-powered devices are doing a great job in emulating the 24/7 brick and mortar shopping to a customer.
3. A Channel to Communicate with your customers
Consumers these days are glued to their phones like there is no tomorrow, and this is a gold mine to businesses looking for ways to reach their audience. Chat is already quite popular as a medium to engage with customers in private. As a matter of fact, live chat is amongst the most preferred channels with a very good success rate.
However, like we discussed, integrations and interface with other technologies allows popular messaging apps to grow, and become something more than a channel to provide a seamless customer experience. More like engaging with a salesperson in a brick and mortar store.
4. An Easy Way to Pay
Google recently announced that it will be bringing messaging to its Tez payment app in India, to allow peer-to-peer payments inside Whatsapp.
Welcome to a world where you can make payments using a simple messaging app. Big guns like Snapchat (snapcash) and Facebook Messenger have been providing this feature for over a year now. And an increasing amount of messaging platforms like WeChat and Whatsapp have chosen a similar path. Facebook Messenger for Business and Whatsapp for Business are taking it up a notch by having companies conduct a large part of the experience between businesses and customers.
5. A Personal Assistant
What more can your consumer ask for? A virtual assistant that literally takes care of everything from pre-purchase research to placing an order and even complete the payment. However, this virtual assistant is quite far ahead and has already evolved to improve the entire shopping experience.
Merging chatbots with technologies such as augmented reality can do wonders for an industry, exceeding the convenience of brick and mortar store where consumers face certain restrictions when it comes to "trying on" a product (highly successful with clothing brands).
6. Your Personal Assistant as Well
"You need to take a look at order #17. Its shipping has been delayed."......
This feature from your chatbot is the beginning of better things for your business. Not just this, your chatbot can remind you of when to fulfill orders in order to ship it on time, track them and make sure that they reach your customers on time. As a business owner, you can operate your entire business through simple conversations with your virtual assistant who knows your back-end control system.
What Next? As of now, we can see that conversational commerce is something which can be beneficial for you and your consumers. It reduces efforts, useless Googling, the endless search for the perfect product and of course the "never hassle free" payments.
Conversational commerce has opened doors to a more seamless experience, free from bad buys and a lot more time spent on learning about your customers, what they want and why should they buy it from you.
Conversational Commerce is not the future - say hello because it is the present! WeChat has been doing it for years now. The point is, when are you going to catch up? The world is fast evolving and customers hate sticking to age-old trends. To keep up with the pace, a conversational commerce solution is more than a necessity for businesses around the world.
Ganesh is a marketer and blogger at Specbee Consulting Services, a leading ecommerce and CMS solution provider. When he is not busy in exploring new technologies and writing about them, you can find him in a football ground going gaga over the game. You can follow him on Linkedin.