Last week I was speaking in Seoul in Digital Marketing Conference for 400 marketing leaders. My topic was around conversational commerce: a topic that I have been writing about a lot.
I was trying to find an answer to three burning questions that are keeping me awake at night:
- Why Conversational commerce is happening right now?
- What it actually means?
- How your brand should act?
1)Three big trends enabling conversational commerce
Messaging apps have already surpassed social media apps in popularity. Our audience is not mobile-first, they are increasingly mobile-only and becoming messaging only. WeChat has already shown the future of messaging-first digital ecosystem.
Our audience want the service and content in the platforms they are using.
Aptly in the same city I was having my presentation around conversational commerce, Alphago Go-robot beat the hell out of Lee Sedol, the world´s best (human) Go player. It was not even close match, not to mention that apparently in 37th move in second match Alphago did a move that had not been ever done in Go history and was called the most beautiful Go move ever.
Artificial intelligence will enable machines (or robots, if I may) to emulate human-like traits and behavior.
c) Digital platforms will become assistants predicting your needs
There will be more virtual assistants than humans in 2021. All the big digital companies (Apple with Siri, Samsung with Bixby, Google with Allo and Home, Amazon with Alexa and Echo) are building the assistive layer to their products.
Because of mobile platforms and evolved AI, companies are able to predict what you need and provide you personalized service.
2) What Conversational commerce actually means?
I would define conversational commerce as “enabling people to interact with brands with way that is natural to them”. Interaction is limited to customer service or selling products. There is only handful of brans that people would actually want to have conversation with and the odds are your brands is not one of them. The natural way to communicate means two things:
- The style you communicate: Whether it is with Emojis and Slang with text or using voice
- With what device you are communicating with: It can be either chat (with human), chatbot (with robot) in messenger or using internet-of-things device (currently Google Home, Alexa devices. In the future whatever device you will think of).
The benefits of conversational commerce for user are:
- Convenience: Use whatever method and device you feel comfortable.
- Personalization: You save time (not necessarily money) as you get recommendations suitable for you.
- Decision support: Conversational commerce helps you to do decisions easier by learning from your behavior and predicting your next move.
3)What it means to your brand?
There are five key considerations you need to take into account when considering your conversational commerce –strategy:
1. Don´t get caught by hype
Conversational commerce is bigger thing than Chatbots. Chatbots have been one of the first trials on making it work. And they have not been particularly successful yet. Facebook bots have had failure rate of 70% so they were able to get to 30% of requests without some sort of human intervention. That does not mean that people don´t want good service through their messaging apps. They don´t necessarily want it through chatbots.
2. Choose your pilot market wisely
Compared to social media landscape, messaging landscape is much more fragmented especially in South-East Asia. This means that you might not be able to replicate your activities in one market to another.
3. Find the right partners
You don´t necessarily need to create every algorithm from the scratch. There is already quite developed ecosystem around conversational commerce that you can tap into.
4. Provide value and make life easier for your consumer
Like I said earlier, majority of the people do not want to have a conversation with brands. They want to have value whether it is through buying products or getting good consumer service. While you might be interested in creating the most witty Chatbot ever, it might be more wise to first ensure that you are providing straightforward utility first and then start extending to more human-like interactions.
5. Be fun and natural
That being said, the great opportunity with conversational commerce is ability to humanize otherwise transactional brand-human relationships. When you have ensured that you are providing value and clear benefit to the user, the personality of your chat can be a true competitive advantage.
We are living in the peak of hype cycle with conversational commerce and there will be round of iterations when it will truly live to its promise. My point is however clear: it is not question about will the conversational commerce happen, it is how and when it will happen?