Online purchasing continues to be consumers’ preferred channel for their holiday shopping due to convenience and efficiency. In fact, this year, 60 percent of consumers plan to use retailer websites or apps to get inspiration and ideas for their holiday shopping, highlighting the importance of a solid omnichannel experience for brands to reach customers exactly where they are: on their mobile devices.
In addition, a recent study found that 25 percent of Gen Z consumers are interested in shopping through chat or text messages, such as WhatsApp, and more than 10 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. are expected to be generated through mobile commerce by 2025. So how can retailers and e-commerce brands ensure they’re keeping up with consumers' evolving needs and staying on shoppers' “nice lists” this holiday season? Let’s dive in.
Instead of waiting for consumers to approach them, brands can use artificial intelligence insights to proactively reach out to existing customers with relevant information, deals or recommendations based on consumer behavior and preferences to inspire future purchases. Using custom elements — e.g., the shopper’s name or a reference to a previous transaction — will clearly communicate the value you’re bringing and increase the likelihood that they want to hear from your brand again. For example, AI can be used for personalizing text and tone, while recommending products that use customer insights (e.g., past purchases) to recommend the right product to the right person at the right time. This personal touch can drive higher sales, especially during the holiday season when consumers are in “buying mode” and receptive to the best answers to any shopping query and product recommendation.
Leveraging multimedia, such as videos, GIFs and interactive bots, can engage online shoppers more deeply and makes the experience more enjoyable. Specifically, using emojis in the text body of your messages and integrating media and images mid-thread can enrich the message experience and maintain engagement. In addition, offering pre-approved clickable buttons for the consumer to use to respond, like “Yes,” “No,” and “Find out more,” speed up purchasing on the customer end. These can also offer insights that enable you to identify what's causing drop-offs, abandoned carts and more, making the shopping experience more personalized and enjoyable for your customers and more profitable for your brand. Something to keep in mind, however, is that in order to effectively implement this content and meet customers where they are, communications on messaging channels should adapt to the way customers are using those channels. For example, if consumers use emojis in one channel but not another, brands need to follow suit.
Conversational commerce is a great way to interact with customers. This technology incorporates an AI-powered chatbot that can replace dozens of customer service agents, resulting in massive savings and allowing for smoother, more human-like conversations with consumers. Conversational commerce creates a two-way messaging experience that facilitates the entire shopping journey and allows customers to make purchases, ask questions, set up returns, give feedback, and much more — all from the comfort of their favorite messaging platforms. Businesses can leverage conversational commerce to improve customer support and experience, increase return on investment, and save valuable time.
Offering an individualized and convenient shopping journey is essential for brand loyalty and consumer satisfaction. Consumers no longer want to wait on hold or email customer support and wait days for a reply; they want an active, two-way communication experience with a brand that ensures a response. In fact, when a consumer is loyal to a brand, 86 percent will recommend a company to friends and family, increasing sales and customers for that business.
This holiday season and into the future, in order to stay on consumers' “nice lists,” e-commerce brands and retailers must provide a seamless shopping experience across different touchpoints. If they can chat, shop and get post-purchase support all in one platform, it will lead to reduced friction and increased customer loyalty and spending.
Joscha Koepke is the head of product at Connectly, a conversational commerce company focused on simplifying how SMBs transform customer messages into revenue.
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Joscha Koepke is head of product at Connectly. He was part of the startup's founding team and leads the company's product road map and strategy to build an AI-powered conversational commerce platform. Prior to Connectly, Joscha was Global Product Lead at Google, where he led the product & go-to-market strategy of emerging online-to-offline ad format products across Search, Display, YouTube, & Google Maps. Joscha received his Global MBA from National Taiwan University and his Bachelor's of Science from University of Münster.