Conversational Commerce Ready For Market

What do 1-800-Flowers, Renault and Planned Parenthood all have in common? They’re but three of a slew of companies, brands and retailers leaning on the transformative power of conversational commerce (c-commerce for short) to redefine their marketing and customer service strategies.

In fact, some 80% of businesses claim to already use chatbots, the preferred mode of c-commerce today, or plan to within the year. The time for c-commerce is resoundingly now.

In fact, the reception for this brand of commerce is overwhelmingly positive and promising — almost 50% of shoppers are open to purchasing items while interacting with a chatbot, while a sizeable 71% of them state that they’re willing to receive customer service or support through a messaging app. All of the fanfare is certainly linked to two retail realities:

  • Shoppers are more time-strapped than ever.
  • Shoppers would much rather engage in a conversation than with a button.

As a result, c-commerce is uniquely positioned to corner retail in a way that traditional e-commerce never could. And the reason has chiefly to do with how the two shopping channels are designed.

Conversational Commerce In A Google-Informed World

In a race to please Google’s search engine rules, e-commerce websites and interfaces have long become huge stockpiles of indexable information. Over time, companies prioritized SEO-friendliness over customer-friendliness, leaving us with cookie-cutter layouts housing large repositories of data.

As a result, e-commerce sites can feel lifeless and unwieldy. Conversational commerce, however, is designed to cater to our most natural human tendencies: the tendencies to connect, to converse and to invest in products and services after acquiring the proper confidence and context to do so.

And the proof of traditional e-commerce’s shortcomings is in the paltry pudding: Global e-commerce conversion rates barely scratch the 3% mark. What’s more, outside of e-commerce Goliaths like Rakuten, Apple, Alibaba and Amazon, traditional e-commerce has fallen short of the lofty expectations we once had for it.

Even with steady yearly gains, e-commerce still only makes up about one-tenth of yearly global retail sales.

C-commerce brings with it the promise to change that, boasting conversion rates that are four times that of traditional shopping sites. Where traditional e-commerce is static, one-size-fits-all and rigid, c-commerce is dynamic, personalized and adaptable (especially when artificial intelligence is brought into the picture).

Shoppers show enthusiasm for it because it provides convenience, transparency and a dose of humanity. It’s a two-way street, where typical e-commerce is a cul-de-sac.

Take our opening question, “What do 1-800-Flowers, Renault and Planned Parenthood have in common?” for instance. It’s not a question that an e-tailer’s search bar or even almighty Google would be able to field. It requires abstract thinking, complex connection-making and perhaps even a bit of humor — all of which can be answered with the intelligent design of a c-commerce chatbot

It would similarly be difficult to field complex queries like this one without a chat interface or AI-powered assistance: “I had to delay my return flight because of a family emergency. Will I be charged a rebooking fee? And are there daytime flights back to Miami available for this coming Thursday — preferably first-class?”

Designing for conversational commerce can feel like a Herculean feat if you haven’t done it before. Luckily, there are so many companies and tools around to provide designers a solution through which they can properly visualize and prototype complex interfaces, so you can start being a part of conversations happening on Alexa, WhatsApp, Messenger and everywhere else they might be taking place.

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