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It is no secret we are pretty bullish on conversational commerce.

As a chatbot building company, it does make sense that we would follow the trend extremely closely. I think conversational commerce companies will win in the long term.

In this article, I want to focus on the why. Why is conversational commerce really this interesting right now? Why should businesses focus on developing a conversational strategy? And, most importantly, why now?

If you are interested in marketing trends backed by data and research, this article is for you. Keep on reading!

 

What is conversational commerce?

I suppose one needs to at least make sure everyone is on the same page before moving forward with this article.

Conversational commerce is a term coined by Chris Messina about a year and a half ago in is now famous Medium article, '2016 will be the year of conversational commerce'.

In his article, Chris defines conversational commerce as 'utilising chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.'

Essentially, it is businesses using chat interfaces (Facebook Messenger, SMS, live chat, etc.) to interact with their customers.

Since then, many (including us, of course) have written about the trend.

We, at ubisend, sometimes refer to it as 'conversational marketing'. I recently wrote a blurb about why we sometimes prefer this term. Though I personally prefer conversational marketing, it is clear the market is going a different direction - thus the use of 'commerce' for this article.

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Read the 'Conversational marketing vs. conversational commerce' section of this article to know more.

 

Now that we are all up to speed, let's tackle a few reasons why conversational commerce companies are most definitely going to win.

 

Why conversational commerce companies will win

I believe there are four core reasons why companies that adopt a conversational commerce approach will thrive in the long run.

 

1. Conversations are always happening

Look, as much as I'd like to make all of this about super new crazy technology, I just can't.

Conversations have, are, and always will be part of doing business.

There is no way around it. In fact, we mention this in pretty much every article we write on this topic to try to hammer it down.

Conversational commerce is nothing new. What is new is the scale at which it can be done today.

Conversation as a business strategy is not going anywhere. Therefore, companies that focus on making these conversations efficient and fruitful will win in the long term. That's just, like, math.

Why is everyone suddenly talking about it like a shiny new concept, you ask? Good question. Allow me to introduce reason nr. 2.

 

2. Scaling through (chatbot) tech

Let's say you enter a high street retail store and are greeted with a lovely salesperson. You explain what you are looking for, the salesperson presents you with options, explains the different characteristics of each product, and helps you pick the right one to suit your needs.

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You've just had a conversation, in a shop, where they do commerce. I think we should call this conversational commerce. Woah, new concept!

Right, all jokes aside, this interaction is actual conversational commerce in real time.

Now, like I said, this has been happening since ever. What's new is the possibility for businesses to have this exact interaction at incredible scale (I'm talking thousands over thousands of them), in real time, 24/7 all year round.

This is all made possible thanks to recent technology surrounding chatbots and mobile messaging platforms.

About two years ago, Facebook followed the East's footsteps and opened up their Facebook Messenger API. This allowed hundreds of thousands of people to put their geek on and start developing (albeit poor) chatbots.

This simple event launched the chatbot trend we are now riding. More than that, though, it opened up the possibility for businesses all over the world to have these conversations at great scale and low cost.

We went from the one-to-one image above to this.

one_to_many_sales.pngTechnology allows one-to-one conversational commerce at large scale.

Exciting times! Businesses that now focus on adopting a conversational commerce approach get to deploy it across multiple channels, at high speed and incredible scale.

 

3. We want to talk (yes, really)

Most of us have instant visions of throwing our mobile phone at the wall as soon as we see an incoming call.

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Follow the great people at VeryBritishProblems

 

It may come as a surprise, then, that today's consumer actually wants to talk to brands. That's right. You will avoid your mother's call, but you will send a text to your local Tesco to ask their opening hours.

We did our own research in the matter. It turns out consumers who message brands say reaching the desired outcome (68%), ease of experience (48%), and speed (44%) are most important.

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Download the complete 2017 Chatbot Report.

 

It is no surprise, then, that chatbots are taking off.

While the in-shop conversation I describe in the previous point is incredibly satisfying from a customer point of view, it is also somewhat rare and totally unscalable.

What happens in real life is that you enter the store, pretend to browse for 20min whilst the staff is busy doing the million things they have to do, and you end up leaving without anything. A loss for you, a loss for the business; and certainly a loss regarding outcome (you didn't get what you wanted), easy of experience (pretending to browse is awkward and annoying), and speed (you literally did not move or got help. Zero speed).

A constantly available chatbot offers the exact opposite experience. You get to message it, get your answers, and get out. The ease of experience in this commercial conversation is at its apex, along with reaching the desired outcome and doing it all at a speed that satisfies your needs.

 

4. Conversations are the new search

I love this. It is a subtle implication of the whole chatbot trend but I genuinely believe it is going to make conversational commerce companies more efficient than their competitors.

The way we search online has drastically changed in the last few years. Back in 2006, a search like 'Where is the best Italian restaurant?' would have been completely ludicrous.

Today, we can ask this question and Google will return relevant results.

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The truth is we tend to ask our questions to Google in a more and more conversational matter. It is no surprise that, when confronted with a chatbot, most users will use very conversational language.

Businesses that implement a conversational commerce strategy will thrive over their competitors by being more aware of the way their customers speak. Keeping a pulse on language as well as keywords and key phrases is becoming more relevant than ever.

I hope the four points above have convinced you of developing your conversational approach to selling, whether it is in store or through an AI-driven solution!