As customers continue to reshape the way they shop, integrating their lives through smartphones and devices, it is important to understand the evolution of retail as we know it, and how conversational commerce is quickly blazing a path, redefining where we’re going. According to Pew Research, 56% of Americans have a smartphone, and 34% of adults have a tablet device.

Consumers have been using messaging apps as an extension of who they are for the past two years, surpassing their usage on social networks. In 2016, it is estimated to be around 2.13 billion social network users around the globe, up from 1.4 billion in 2012. That means messaging apps has a larger following, with more opportunity to gain market share by engaging with their growing audience.

What does this mean?

This means conversational commerce is changing the way consumers interact with retailers for more personalized shopping. Although this occurred through social media networks, the notion of a customer privately engaging with a retailer for customized experiences is very appealing to savvy shoppers. While texting used to be the preferred way to reach an audience, retailers are going a step further, utilizing live chat, which has a 73% customer satisfaction rate.

Through conversational commerce, customers will be able to make payments, speak to customer service about the status of their order, or place an order for something they need without going through social media platforms. Conversational commerce through messaging apps provides a more private line of communication between the consumer and retailer, allowing more in-depth messages, opportunities for cross-selling and upselling products that match specific needs.

conversational commerceConversational commerce, in some aspects, can be viewed as a personal stylist or assistant, catering to the customers every need. This is quite different from SMS Marketing, which sends texts to customers about promotions, specials or upcoming events for retailers.

This is shopping based purely on preference, mixing human and artificial intelligence fulfillment, using a messaging app to speak directly to what you need, and they will guide you to your destination or where you can get the product.

Apps like WeChat allows you to hail a cab, order food, book a flight, buy movie tickets, meet new people and more directly from the application interface. It’s the center of mobile commerce in a lot of different countries, continuously growing by the day.

Combined with elements of social media, engagement is heightened and customers are more comfortable with the interaction of conversational commerce.

The use of instant messaging apps continue to grow, with 97% of smartphone owners using text messaging. People love the convenience of messaging apps, as they offer a richer experience than text messaging. Individuals make purchases on a frequent basis with their smartphones.

Retailers have capitalized on this opportunity, partnering with messaging apps to offer chat bots that will allow retailers to turn conversation into commerce. The new application Assist has partnered with Slack, Telegram, Kik, Facebook Messenger, and SMS that will personalize the way things are done now and in the future.

Conversational commerce is also leading the way for how transactions are completed.

Messaging applications are now experimenting with new ways of payment. Snapchat has Snapcash, that allows people to pay for items without leaving the conversation, and Facebook Messenger also has some form of payment feature in their application, furthering the relationship with retailers who are investing significant time and money into the complete customer experience.

Here Are More Tips To Keep The Conversation Going:

1) Build Up Your Customer Interactions Through Social Media

conversational commerceTo find your customers where they are hanging out, you have to use social media platforms. This means you have to create a Facebook page, a Twitter following, and an Instagram account.

Each social media platform requires a bit of a different strategy to get followers, but the general idea is to share ideas, content and images to your potential customer base in an effort to engage them in conversation. You must share content that is interesting to your customers, and always respond to comments that people make.

Social media is meant to be a two-way process, and you don’t want to just share content and leave. If customers are making comments, it is vital that you respond to these comments in a timely manner.

2) Relevant Content is Essential to Growing Your Communication with Customers

According to Demand Metric, “78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing.” By custom content, this means content that isn’t generic, keyword stuffed drivel that your customers don’t want to read. Your content needs to be interesting, and content that your followers want to share with their friends.

When your content is dynamic, customers will share this on their own social media walls, creating a larger audience for you. The more you can get customers to share, the higher potential for growth your business has. Invest marketing dollars in the creation of great content for your site, and you will see your customer base grow.

3) SMS Texting Software is Important for Reaching Customers in an Instant

conversational commerceWhether you want to send a message out to your entire customer base, or you want to send a message to a select demographic, a SMS texting software platform is necessary. When you implement texting software into your marketing campaign, you will now be able to reach your customer base in an instant. This means you can send out texts for time sensitive deals, or send out a quick text to share an interesting piece of content with your customers.

The important piece to SMS texting software is building up your base of users who opt-in to receive texts from you. This is done by having customers sign up at the register, or offering a discount for signing up to receive texts from you. The good news is, customers can opt out of your texting campaign at any time, so that are not committing to much to receive a discount.

For retailers, conversational commerce is the wave of the future, allowing individuals to further customize their shopping experiences to what they want, when they want, and how they want. Coupled with messaging apps that cater to retail platforms, this will completely change the way people shop – forever.

Do you have more tips for SMB owners on how to keep conversational commerce going?  We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

 

Guest author Sophorn Chhay is the marketing guy at  Trumpia, an SMS message service that allows users to customize their one-to-one marketing efforts by interconnecting and optimizing all digital platforms.

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