Conversational Commerce: The Ultimate Guide for 2023

Around half of businesses use a chatbot on their website, while over on Facebook Messenger, there are well over 300,000 active bots sending billions of messages from businesses to consumers each month. While conversational commerce is already strong, its capabilities and popularity continue to advance.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about this growing eCommerce trend.


What is conversational commerce?

Conversational commerce is a new form of eCommerce marketing that involves brands and consumers communicating directly with one another through online chat channels.

Conversational commerce usually uses conversational AI technology, like chatbots, to drive sales and increase customer lifetime value. But some brands also enlist live representatives to add a more personal touch to their communications and provide high-level expertise.

This interactive approach aims to bring a human touch to the world of eCommerce. It is akin to having a chatty, knowledgeable sales rep behind the desk at a brick-and-mortar store. But it all happens online.

This technology can be used to answer customer queries, facilitate transactions or just provide an introduction to your products. It’s a key way for consumers to quickly and easily find what they need.


Examples of conversational commerce

New tools to support conversational commerce are emerging all the time as technologies develop and brands move to adapt to the modern consumer journey. But here are the dominant forms of conversational commerce right now.

1. Chatbots

Consumers have become accustomed to using chatbots as part of the online shopping experience. In fact, one survey showed that nearly half of shoppers are open to buying items with the help of a chatbot.

Chatbots use conversational AI to easily answer queries about deliveries, refunds and other FAQs. They can even be used to gather feedback or promote cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

It’s a good idea to add a chatbot to your checkout page as this is a key place for getting sales over the line and preventing shopping cart abandonment.

Some brands, like Whole Foods and Sephora, also use chatbots to provide complementary content to their fans. Think recipe ideas, makeup tutorials, virtual try-on experiences and other information that adds value to the eCommerce customer experience.

Other brands, like Lyft and Pizza Hut, have also programmed chatbots to respond to queries made through voice assistant technology. This allows automatic chat commerce sales to take place directly through chat.

Brands can create a chatbot for their website, as well as for popular platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. There are more than 300,000 active messenger bots on Facebook alone.

2. Live chat agents

Chatbots are great. But their ability to answer questions is somewhat limited. While they can provide the answer to common queries in no time at all, brands should also offer consumers the option to be transferred to a human sales agent for help with trickier questions.

Live agents are able to provide specific product information and can turn hot leads into conversions. This is a particularly useful tactic for companies that want to sell complex products online.

That’s why leading electronics brands like Apple, Samsung and HP all offer live chat options with their expert agents. They can share the information shoppers need to convert – all while providing a friendly face, bespoke advice and next-level customer service.

On Apple’s online store, for example, shoppers can choose to call or ‘Connect with a specialist’. During the process, they’ll see the team in real-time. This makes the whole chat commerce experience feel more like an in-person one.

Agents can also be trained to take advantage of cross-selling opportunities. When done right, this will ensure greater customer satisfaction and more positive feedback. Providing a human touch is more likely to generate word of mouth recommendations too.

3. Personalised push notifications

Brands can also offer shoppers the option to set up chatbot reminders. This allows them to use chatbots to monitor the price or stock levels of a product. This way they can receive real-time notifications as changes happen.

Using the likes of Facebook Messenger, brands can even send shoppers abandoned cart reminders.

This provides a top-class customer experience and can capture sales that may not occur otherwise. Best of all, the whole process is automated so this kind of chat commerce offers a great way to increase conversions with very little investment.

4. Voice interactions

Today, a third of Americans own their own smart speaker. Experts also predict that, by 2024, 54% of consumers will check out their online shopping carts without ever looking at a screen.

The use of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana is soaring. This means brands must incorporate voice marketing into their eCommerce strategies.

To do this, brands are choosing descriptive keywords and optimising their online content with voice search in mind. As the creator of Alexa devices, it’s no surprise that Amazon is leading the way in voice commerce. To succeed, brands using Amazon simply need to optimise their listings as normal and follow best practices to achieve the Amazon Choice badge – this means their listing will be presented to voice assistant users with relevant queries.

However, some brands have gone a step further. Capital One, for example, partnered with Amazon to enable its users to access their bank balance and make payments by voice. While the likes of Unilever are experimenting with AI-powered ads that allow consumers to ask questions about the advertised products by voice or text.

Voice assistants also offer brands some huge opportunities. Because they gather insightful data on user’s interests and tastes, there are huge opportunities to present voice shoppers with highly targeted and personalised advertising messages. Even if multiple people interact with one voice assistant, this new technology is smart enough to recognise each individual’s voice.


The benefits of conversational commerce

Conversational commerce provides brands with a powerful tool for communicating in a personalized and on-brand way. This can boost customer satisfaction and increase your chances of making a sale. Here are all the key benefits you need to know about.

1. Conversational commerce drives more sales

Because each conversation is personalised to suit the customer, conversational marketing is optimised towards achieving sales.

Consumers that reach out are often close to buying something, so it’s essential that brands provide the final push they need to confidently convert. This is definitely an area worth investing in.

A recent Forrester study undertaken for Google found that 68% of shoppers prefer to choose brands that offer convenient communications like chat.

Older data from Facebook also shows that 83% of shoppers message a business to find out about a product, while 75% use chat commerce to make a purchase or reservation. So brands need a chat presence to capture these kinds of prospects and sales.

2. It enhances the consumer experience

The Forrester study also mentioned above found that consumers, particularly younger ones, want to message businesses. This is largely thanks to the speed and accessibility provided by chatbots.

This convenience, along with the capability for personalisation, means that conversational marketing can truly improve the experience of shoppers.

Of the consumers that have purchased a product through chatbots, 81% said they would do it again. So making conversational commerce channels part of your omnichannel approach is sure to improve customer satisfaction.

3. Brands can scale at a lower cost

The cost of implementing conversational commerce strategies will vary hugely depending on whether you need a custom-built bot or an out-of-the-box solution. The number of agents required to man these channels affects costs too.

But once you have a system in place, it will reliably support shoppers and drive sales – even as your brand expands to new markets and incoming messages grow. Chat tools can scale up with minimal investment.

4. It offers greater engagement and interaction

Because conversational commerce tools provide real-time interactions, they are highly engaging. And there’s research out there to prove it.

One study suggests that push notifications have a pretty significant 20% open rate across all industries. However, that same study shows that in-app messages have a massive open rate of 75%. Then, when it comes to voice assistant messages which are spoken aloud, engagement isn’t really optional.

All this means that the two-way communication that conversational commerce provides is highly impactful.

5. It can be used to gather valuable feedback

Chatting to customers is the best way to gather insightful feedback and qualitative data for your business. Web surveys simply don’t glean the same level of detail. However, conducting market research interviews can be very expensive. However, conversational tools like chatbots offer a cheaper alternative.

Facebook Messenger, for example, can contact followers based on their past interactions with your content. This is a great way to send out targeted feedback questions. Plus, the potential to conduct one-on-one style interviews is only going to get better as AI and machine learning improves.


Top tips for conversational marketing success!

Now that you know the value of conversational commerce, here are some tips to focus on when implementing your strategy.

Be human

Conversational marketing provides brands with a chance to adapt their message to each individual customer. So it’s important to imitate the kind of interactions that shoppers would experience in-store with a helpful sales assistant.

You can use forms of communication that are available in popular messaging apps to be on-brand and relatable. Memes, GIFs, videos and emojis are a great way to engage customers in the same way that their friends would. They create much more personal experiences, which can translate in brand loyalty, advocacy and sales.

In fact, research shows that most shoppers spend twice as much with brands they have formed an emotional connection with.

Plus, if your messages are particularly helpful, humorous or eye-catching, your brand is likely to benefit from increased user-generated content, social shares and word of mouth marketing too.

Follow up on queries

Conversational eCommerce offers consumers a quick and convenient way to contact businesses. For brands, it also offers a speedy way to move consumers toward conversion.

Sometimes, this happens on the spot as agents help a shopper make a decision. But it can also happen through carefully planned follow up messages.

Price drop alerts, shopping cart reminders and cross-sells are all helpful ways to nurture sales in a way that is personalised to the needs of your customers.

Sometimes it’s also helpful to check in with consumers a few days after an initial conversation to see if they need any more assistance. This can build trust, while also re-engaging shoppers that weren’t satisfied the first time around.

Measure everything!

As part of your follow up messages, it’s a good idea to request feedback. But you can also monitor the performance of your conversational marketing through real-time metrics.

While some chat solutions come with in-built tracking, there’s also analytics tools specifically for monitoring chatbot performance. Dashbot and Botanalytics are two examples. Using UTM tags in chat links will also allow you to monitor conversions. 

You should also use data from your analytics tools to inform your conversational commerce strategy. For example, you can use a Where to Buy tool to analyse purchase trends and determine which products your team should cross-sell and upsell. 

Setting specific goals, evaluating progress and making decisions based on the data available allows brands to improve their conversational marketing activities at each stage of the sales funnel.

Final thoughts

In recent years, live chat has consistently been chosen as people’s preferred customer service channel. And as consumers become more accustomed to the technology and its capabilities grow, the sky’s the limit when it comes to conversational selling and marketing.

When chat commerce becomes commonplace, the lines between sales, support and marketing will blur. So brands should be prepared for this. Want to enhance your eCommerce strategy, provide a better consumer experience and drive more conversions? ChannelSight has a team of experts that can implement solutions that help achieve this and more. Contact us today to book a demo with our specialists to see how we can help.