Conversational Commerce Delivers a Competitive Advantage for Retailers During the Holiday Season
In the blink of an eye, the holiday season is back in action. To no surprise, retail experts predict the continued growth of online shopping during the busy season, with e-commerce sales expected to climb by 13.5 percent, reaching a whopping $262 billion. With this anticipated surge, retail brands that fail to provide the top-notch customer experience that's vital to success are at risk of losing valuable customers to their competitors.
Conversational commerce is the future of retail customer experience. It delivers the mobile-friendly, on-demand support that today’s shoppers desire without sacrificing the personalized experience that's received in-store.
What Exactly is Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce is a newer and rapidly growing trend in the e-commerce space. It integrates all aspects of shopping with messaging platforms like Google’s Business Messages, WhatsApp, and Apple Messages for Business, allowing brands to chat directly with shoppers. Conversational commerce often leverages machine learning technology like chatbots to expedite the buying process, all while bolstering customer lifetime value.
During the holiday season, shoppers are constantly looking for ways to interact with their favorite brands, not to mention scout out holiday promotions, fun seasonal products, gift ideas, and more. A rapid increase in digital traffic comes with the need for top-notch customer engagement around the clock, and customers are willing to pay a premium for it. In fact, research has found that 68 percent of customers will spend more money with a brand that understands their needs. By welcoming digital customers with seasonal greetings, personalized gift recommendations and immediate assistance, retailers can take the stress out of shoppers’ lengthy holiday to-do lists.
Here are the top four benefits of conversational commerce:
1. Order Personalization
Conversational commerce is more than just support. It allows consumers to ask detailed questions, request personalized recommendations, scan product reviews, and make purchases without physically being in-store. Once the customer is ready to purchase, branded chatbots or voice assistants can help with everything from closing the transaction to providing order ETAs in one place so customers don’t have to go searching for that info.
Having a comprehensive program in place helps establish customer loyalty and trust during a vital time of year. Consumers seeking that support are often on the fence about their purchase, so providing the gentle push shoppers need to confidently convert is essential.
2. Upsell and Cross-Sell
Perhaps the most attractive part of conversational commerce for brands is its ability to drive more conversions and higher order value. For shoppers already mid-transaction, suggesting complementary products is much easier during the purchase process. During a time when brands are constantly offering attractive deals, messenger chatbots can proactively connect with existing customers to offer additional recommendations and push priority SKUs, giving brands more chances to boost holiday profits.
3. Address Shopper Friction in Real Time
Conversational AI can identify the root of a problem long before human agents can. Customers might be frustrated by having to create an account to place an order or fill up their cart without the intention to purchase. By deploying chatbots to greet consumers that haven’t completed a purchase yet or offering incentives to give shoppers the extra push they need, brands can capture sales that otherwise would have fallen through the cracks.
4. Collect Valuable Shopper Feedback
Gathering customer feedback through organic conversation is far more effective than traditional methods. After the completed transaction, brands can invite customers to fill out a post-purchase survey or even connect with an agent to provide detailed feedback and identify areas of improvement. Collecting shopper insights during the year's busiest season can help brands with the post-sale period to nurture that customer relationship. This also provides a channel for retailers to share updates on new products or offer new promotions, keeping loyal customers coming back for more.
Put Conversational Commerce on Your Brand’s Wish List This Holiday Season
Retail brands only get one chance to impress consumers before they go somewhere else. In a cutthroat industry like e-commerce, customer experience is truly the difference between a conversion and an abandoned cart. By meeting shoppers where they are at each stage of the buying journey, brands can deliver the immediate, personalized customer experience that will keep shoppers returning time and time again.
Lans Crauer is a senior business value consultant at Khoros, a digital customer engagement platform.
Related story: How to Solve Retailers’ Top Customer Engagement Challenges
Lans has spent the better part of the last twenty years in the contact center industry and business process outsourcing (BPO) space, with over three-quarters of that time dedicated exclusively to retail and eCommerce customers. His expertise lies in understanding what drives positive customer experiences and higher customer engagement that leads to sales growth and a reduction in customer churn.