07 December 2020

Conversational Commerce – What it is and how it can take your business to the next level

What is it?

Conversational commerce is an innovative form of communication between a brand or business and its customers, through instant digital messages that are shared on platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SMS, Amazon’s Alexa or within a businesses website that incorporate the ability to make purchases or enquiries online.

While ‘conversational commerce’ is not a new concept, the phenomenon is gaining momentum, driving innovation and customer experience in an ever-changing e-commerce and customer relations landscape.

According to an article from G2, 63% of people now prefer to message a chatbot over speaking with a human.

With the rapid development and integration of AI within conversational commerce, this process has evolved to become fully automated and incredibly efficient.

One of the most common manifestations of AI today is in chatbots. Chatbots are slowly replacing frontline personnel to handle customer service, marketing efforts, sales, and more. Consequently, more and more consumers are embracing chatbots. In fact, more than 67 percent of customers around the world have interacted with chatbots in the past year. It is projected to increase to up to 85 percent in the next year.

How can it be incorporated into my business?

  1. Sales assistant

    Instead of wading your way through a product list in order to find a suitable solution, an AI assistant can guide your customers to their desired product in an efficient, user-friendly manner. This is particularly effective when a user needs a specific product or service.

  2. Sales / Cross-selling / Up-selling:

    When an AI assistant is used to guide a user to his / her desired product, it opens up a variety of opportunities to make that extra sale or entice the purchase of some other products. This can be achieved by precisely targeting your customers behavior and prompting personalized suggestions based on a user’s previous choices.

  1. Interactive product guides

    A common enquiry to customer service desks is in relation to installing, modifying or using a product that has been purchased from your business. Having an AI driven chatbot can provide a sort of dynamic product guide for a customer; providing the information relative to their experience.

  2. Customer service / enquiries

    Customer service and dealing with enquiries can be a painful and costly process, usually demanding large amounts of employee hours and training – resulting in a large investment of resources in staff and infrastructure. Having a full or semi automated, well designed, AI driven chatbot can replace the costly infrastructure of a traditional customer care unit, providing consistency as well as being able to handle an indefinite number of requests simultaneously.

  3. Handling social channels:

    Chatbots can be integrated into social media channels, responding to customer queries and intrigues. Having an automated response system in your social media platforms increases response time, improving customer relations and keeps users attention firmly focused on your product or service by instantly creating a dialog between your business and it’s customers or potential clients.

    The top 5 industries profiting from the incorporation of chatbots are real estate (28%), travel (16%), education (14%), healthcare (10%), and finance (5%) (Chatbots Life)

The benefits of using chatbots

  1. Guidance:

    There are 4 main reasons for customers to become disinterested and disengaged with your website. Each of these can be accurately & efficiently resolved through chatbots:

    • The customer cannot find the information or answer they were looking for on your website within a sufficient amount of time.
      A thoroughly designed chatbot is able to provide a user(s) with relevant answers or information using just a few words from a user’s input. This provides the customer with almost instant, relevant content in line with the intention they visited your website with.
    • Large sites can be difficult and frustrating to navigate, especially if it’s the customer’s first time on your site.
      By adding navigational capabilities to your AI driven bot, it can act as a guide throughout the website, bringing the user to different pages, sections, buttons, etc. This can eradicate the tedious side quest of searching for elements rather than getting what you came for.
    • They can’t find the item they were looking for, even though it’s there.
      This is a common problem amongst large retail sites, which have a dense catalog of items available. Getting 6+ pages of results when looking for an item simply isn’t accurate enough. Chatbots can be programmed to ask as many questions as required to provide an accurate set of results. This has some clear advantages, in providing a shorter, more accurate set of results to a customer, makes purchasing easier, and reduces the risk of returns due to only showing relevantly placed products (size, price range, brand, condition, etc).
  2. Automation of repetitive tasks

    A wide variety or people will visit your website, from all over the world, but the reason they go there can be shockingly common. The 3 stand out reasons tend to be; looking for information, looking to get in contact, or to purchase something. By identifying which of these applies to your website through analytical software can provide a business with valuable insight into what features or functionalities can and should be automated.

  3. Increased intelligence with extended use

    Chatbots made with AI have machine learning capability, meaning they “learn on the job”. With every conversation your chatbot has, it evolves and optimizes in order to provide your customers with a more improved and relevant experience.

  1. Improved response rate (beneficial to SEO)

    A businesses response rate is a key factor in poor SEO ratings. Unless you have someone available 24/7 to respond to customer queries, your response rating is not going to be as good as it can be. With chatbot integration to social media platforms, you can handle all customer interactions immediately through automated, personalised responses. This results in a more prominent Google search result position and therefore increasing traffic to your website.

  2. Provides consistency of customer interactions

    For years, companies have tried to provide consistency in this regard through large scale training at huge cost with far from perfect results.

    Using AI driven chatbots to deal with customer inquiries provides a level of consistency unobtainable to a human workforce. With every conversation, an AI chatbot will improve and self optimize in order to solve a customers query quicker and more effectively. A chatbot can be your best employee dealing with all customers queries at once!

  3. Cost cutting

    Providing good customer service comes with a range of challenges, which are not only time consuming but very costly. The implementation of AI driven virtual assistants nullifies all of these issues;

    Traditional Customer Service
    AI driven chatbot customer service
    Demands a lot of employee hours
    Relatively cheap to implement
    Requires extensive employee training
    Vast amounts of employee training is replaced with chatbot optimisation (some of which is done automatically through AI)
    Hard to scale because of changing variables (e.g. busier days)
    Easily scalable (a chatbot deals with 1000 customers as easily as 10)
    Hard to achieve consistency
    Chatbots will provide unparalleled consistency with customer relations

The future of online sales

In a world of fast paced, ever changing technologies, the future of online sales is not only hard to predict, but those predictions can come and go quite quickly. We have witnessed the biggest ever change in the way we do business during this infamous year. This year of online shopping, Zoom meetings and businesses innovation in dealing with this pandemic has brought about a previously incomprehensible shift in the way business and customers buy and sell products and services.

The shift from high street retail to online sales has been phenomenal; In 2014 the total of ecommerce sales reached just $1.3 trillion dollars. But that number has more than tripled in 2020 to $4.2 trillion and is anticipated to keep growing in the years to come. According to the experts at Statista, they project annual revenue of online sales to climb up to $6.5 trillion in just 3 years. This trend shows no sign of slowing down or retreating; this year has certainly revolutionized the way we do business. This revolution in online sales is a major factor in the rise of chatbot technology; from being mostly conceptual, to being at the forefront of innovative online sales techniques.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 50% of enterprise companies (like Google, IBM and Facebook) will spend more money each year on chatbots than mobile apps (Gartner)

The shift towards online sales and the implementation of chatbot technology within some of the most successful companies at the forefront of this movement (Amazon, IBM, Google), show a clear and defined route to the way company’s need to think about how to conduct their business in the future. The future is in online sales, AI driven customer service, virtual shopping assistants & chatbot technology.

In the next section we will show you some cutting edge examples of this technology being implemented, some local companies providing these services, and give you a real feel for how this technology enhances a user’s online experience.

Conversational commerce in use

Daka – online sales assistant

This chatbot was designed to help users pick the perfect hockey stick. Through a series of short questions, the bot cleverly displays the available options to the user based on their preference. This resulted in customers being presented with a personalized selection of hockey sticks, all tailored to their custom needs; in size, price, brand, and other preferences. Daka saw a dramatic increase in their customer conversion rate, with a noticeable reduction in products being returned, as customers received better guidance in buying hockey sticks.

Check it out for yourself

Virtual Assistant – ViAmsterdam

A virtual assistant is a personalised and distinct way of guiding a user’s experience on a website. This can cover a variety of functionalities and routes, all depending on the users preferences. In this example, we will see that the user is prompted with a range of options, each specifying different paths a user can follow. It’s a great way of getting a user the information they came for, quickly, efficiently, and hassle free. Think of it as a tour guide for your website! This tour guide is created to be friendly, personable & a little quirky! It can transition through different pages for you and bring you to where you need to go , in order to provide a more personal and seamless experience.

Have a go for yourself: ViA the virtual assistant

Levi’s – online sales assistant

Levi’s released a new style of jeans called Levi Flex, with a specific idea of the target market and how to promote the products. At Vi.Amsterdam, we created a chatbot that fit this description perfectly. With the use of friendly tones and language, along with emojis and clear, sleek styling choices, they made this bot feel trendy and relatable to a younger target audience.

Check it out here

ASR – Taking chatbots to the next level

As with all technology, it’s not long created before someone tries to take it to the next level. This is unfolding everyday with AI driven chatbot technology. One insurance company, ASR, have cleverly and intuitively used their chatbot to shape the entire website!

Check it out here

By 2021, $4.5 billion will be invested in chatbot technology (Opus Research)

Conclusion

Commercial commerce is growing at an exponential rate, being incorporated more and more into eCommerce, social media & customer service sectors. It’s versatility is made clear when we look into what industries are gaining the most from it; the top 5 industries profiting from the incorporation of chatbots are real estate (28%), travel (16%), education (14%), healthcare (10%), and finance (5%). This highlights that a chatbot is beneficial to your website, sales, or customer relations, regardless of your product or service.

This article and the research that went into it paint a clear picture: conversational commerce is the future, and as is an ever present reality with technology, in order to survive, you have to keep up with the times.

If you are interested in one of the many services AI driven chatbots can achieve, by enhancing your website, increasing your sales, or reforming traditional customer service techniques, feel free to contact us for further information below.

Conversational Commerce - What it is and how it can take your business to the next level

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