How You Can Leverage Conversational Commerce to Improve Business Outcomes

Here are three truths — people love (1) social media, (2) shopping online, and (3) the devices and channels that get them to 1 and 2. And many companies are looking to capitalize on this captive audience by combining social media and ecommerce to deliver an increasingly personalized customer experience. This growing movement of conversational commerce for enterprises of all sizes is changing how business is being done — and changing it for the better.

Illustration of a giant cell phone with an awning to represent a digital storefront. Beside the phone are a shopper, along with several icons representing an online shopping cart, gifts, credit card, "like" button, and chat bubble.

What Is Conversational Commerce?

Conversational commerce seeks to provide the best elements of in-store shopping — think personalization and the ability to chat with knowledgeable people — with the convenience of buying online, including via social media. It offers the ability to make the most of the increasingly sophisticated use of technology by consumers.

What this means for each organization will be different, but it uses the latest innovations via tried-and-tested strategies: putting the customer first and talking with them when they want and how they want.

How Does Conversational Commerce Work?

Businesses want to be where their customers are; for many people, that's on their phones. The State of Mobile 2022 report estimated the average time spent on smartphones was almost five hours a day

Of course, as soon as customers put down their mobile device — they may go right back online by way of their laptop or desktop computer. All of these are examples of where conversational commerce does its work.

Key components of conversational commerce for enterprises include:

  • Leveraging the increasing use of social media. The personal and immediate nature of messages, chat, or SMS can be used to answer questions, follow up, or complete sales.

  • Complementing the human element with an AI virtual assistant. A personal shopping assistant can help consumers learn more about products and services, help them place orders directly, or schedule an in-store visit. The AI virtual assistant can also generate personalized messages to both engage and help increase sales.

  • Helping customers complete purchases with a service chatbot. An AI chatbot can flag items for follow-up, anticipate questions, and provide information on next steps. These all serve to nurture customers through the purchasing cycle.

An important part of this approach is data. Businesses love data because it can help them quantify problem areas and explore opportunities. In the case of conversational commerce, businesses with the right tools and sources on hand can use that data to improve specific touchpoints in the buyer journey.

The data gathered during conversational commerce interactions can be tagged and historically referenced — which offers invaluable insights. For example, businesses can identify triggers for engagement (already in-store, motivated by a campaign) or follow up (remarketing, seasonal promotions).

How Does Conversational Commerce Affect Buying Decisions?

Businesses have to tread carefully when building their engagement strategies. It can be hard to find the right balance between attending to customers without overwhelming them and providing them with self-service options without neglecting them. Using technology to tread this line is a great example of the benefits of conversational commerce for enterprises.

Providing this kind of enhanced customer experience can lead to sales and conversions. According to Think With Google, 60% of shoppers prefer to choose brands that offer convenient communications like instant chats.

Some of the ways conversational commerce can impact buying decisions include:

  • Making it easier to buy in channel. Customers don't like switching channels to carry out an engagement, but they do like being able to do it all from a single place, as noted in our 2021 Customer Engagement Report. Not having to leave a chat or social media platform simplifies the purchase.

  • Turning self-service into something more. The best conversational commerce approaches understand the importance of connections in a customer's journey. Self-service options should be augmented by conversational AI and ready to hand off to human agents the moment an issue becomes too complex.

  • Bridging the gap between in-store and online. Whatever channels that customers use — in-person or online — chatbots can enhance the role of a sales representative by suggesting personalized recommendations based on shopping history, answering questions, and other data-based tactics.

  • Providing greater personalization. Enterprises can maximize their customer information to introduce personalized ads and automated marketing content that speaks to their preferences. 

  • Deploying at the right time. Consider a customer who wants to sign up for a promotion they saw on Instagram but is put off by completing a long customer profile form. An AI assistant can engage the customer, ask simple questions to advance through the process, and take their payment information. These types of actions can be the difference between a hanging form and a converted lead.

What Are the Benefits of Using Conversational Commerce?

The potential benefits of conversational commerce for enterprises are as broad-ranging as the number of businesses that use the approach. As with many conversion strategies, however, you can chalk up high-level objectives to specific customer-focused outcomes. Examples of conversational commerce's outcomes include:

  • converting sales

  • growing customer acquisitions

  • educating customers

  • easing specific points of pain, frustration, or churn

  • building more buying opportunities into the customer journey through familiarity; for example, customers may prefer — and expect — to receive immediate answers when reaching a business over WhatsApp

  • resourcing data to identify areas for upsell or cross-sell

Done right, conversational commerce initiatives have all the reach of a standard marketing campaign with the persuasive power of a one-to-one conversation. By that alone, it's clear businesses stand to gain a lot from it.

Vonage and Conversational Commerce

Learn more about the conversational commerce solutions from Vonage, including Jumper.ai and communications APIs.

By Ryan Yee B2B Marketing Copywriter

Ryan Yee is a long-time copywriter with B2C and B2B experience across agriculture, biotech, finance, healthcare, technology, and more. He still fondly remembers (?) the papercuts from proofing film and sleep deprivation from late-night press checks. He’s a San Francisco native with love for his nieces and nephews, hometown Giants, and anything even remotely associated with food (utensils optional).

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