Conversational Commerce: Making shopping human again

Online dialogue between brands and their customers had a rocky start. We’ve all experienced bots in messaging apps getting the tone wrong, going silent for days, and even being ever-so-slightly creepy. Since the birth of e-commerce, brands have been trying to navigate how to build relationships with their customers in a digital world. In spite of experiencing some serious growing pains, conversational commerce seems to be getting closer than ever before to the roots of a great retail customer experience. When the job of sales was to tailor the experience to every customer that stepped through the door. To ensure every customer found the information they needed quickly and was inspired by their experience - forging relationships that really lasted.

We did a micro-dive based on Facebook’s report on “Why Conversation is the Future of Commerce” to better understand how and why consumers are choosing to engage with brands this way. Unsurprisingly, the social media conglomerate found that consumers are attracted to the convenience, ease, and tailored attention of c-commerce methods.

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Image Source: Facebook For Business Insights

C-commerce combines the convenience of online shopping with the personal, bespoke feel of shopping in-store. These are two key factors that in-store shopping and chatbots can’t provide at present. Chatbots and voicebots are still a few degrees away from being indistinguishable from humans, but they also miss the appeal of personalization that c-commerce provides customers, which increases customer satisfaction, retention and repeatability.

The Opportunity

We already spend hours texting on our phones — the top 4 messaging app users surpassed the top 4 social media networks in 2015 (Source: Business Insider).

We already buy things online, discover what to buy online, and chat about what to buy online with friends and family.

So why wouldn’t businesses connect with consumers where they already are and through their preferred methods of communication?

Globally, it’s Asia-Pacific leading the way in number of users, followed by Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and lastly North America. The leading verticals leveraging c-commerce are fashion and beauty, which is likely due to the range of products specific to personal styles and needs.

Surprisingly though, it's Baby Boomers who are more likely to benefit from c-commerce than Millennials and Gen-Z, as they might be less technologically savvy when navigating an app or website but know how to text. According to the Facebook report, it’s Baby Boomers who are driving this sales strategy in Vietnam.

C-commerce not only allows brands to better serve their client base, but it’s opening up doors to new customers as well. According to the same report, 40% of global respondents said that c-commerce was their first introduction to online shopping.

97% of all respondents said that they plan to continue or increase their c-commerce spending in the future. We believe that brands should start considering how to leverage this trend and integrate messaging apps within their sales and marketing strategies.

Working on a startup in this space?

If you're a startup leveraging c-commerce or helping other businesses to use it, we'd love to hear from you.

Get in touch with us here.

Katie is an Investor with Forward Partners. She came from Vanedge Capital, a VC investing in Series A companies globally. Their sector focuses include machine learning & AI, cloud computing, SaaS, digital media and cyber security. At Vanedge, Katie was responsible for deal sourcing, due diligence and portfolio company management.

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