Conversational commerce is the future of e-commerce.
That seems like a pretty bold statement, right? And if you’re not too familiar with all things conversational commerce, you might think we’re jumping the gun a little on this one – but hear us out.
Conversational commerce is essentially a strategy where the use of messaging services corresponds with, and improves, the sales process.
Thanks to AI (artificial intelligence) technology, chatbots, smart speakers — such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home — and live chatbots all use natural human language to converse with real people and help them make purchase decisions.
So let’s talk about what conversational commerce can do for your startup, and how you can optimize for it.
The growth of conversational commerce
While the pandemic continues to shape the way we live our lives, the e-commerce industry remains undefeated in the retail sector. 2020 saw more than two billion people doing their shopping online – and there was a huge surge in conversational technology as a result.
The Cortanas and Alexas of the world became a staple in most American homes, and these virtual assistants are only going to prove more powerful in handling interactions in the future.
For e-commerce businesses, these devices pose endless possibilities to really connect with customers by essentially having a verbal companion at each stage of the decision-making process.
Conversational commerce helps cut the formality out of customer-business relationships by opening up a friendly dialogue instead.
Types of conversational commerce for your site
Voice search assistant
Let’s debunk the myth that voice assistant interactions are just for the millennial generation. Juniper Research points out that the use of conversational technology is to increase by 113% by 2024, reaching more than 8.4 billion devices.
It’s safe to say that people of all generations will have one soon, and purchasing will be one of the many uses. Currently, 52% of voice assistant owners use them to search for products and services, while 30% are comparing prices with their virtual friends.
One of the key takeaways from these numbers is how virtual assistants are enhancing consumer convenience. The Amazon Echo, for example, allows customers to connect their Capital One bank account to carry out transactions, without having to switch to another device to finalize purchases.
Your business can drive more sales as a result because otherwise complex transactions are reduced to an exchange of words with the home smart speaker.
Live chat boxes are a common feature on the majority of up-to-date websites. Live chat lets your business mirror the customer’s conversational style to build a friendly relationship.
By providing a way for customers to directly message your business, live chat is improving conversion rates by up to 82%. Just one reply increases conversion chances by 50%, which is pretty impressive.
We’re also seeing the highest satisfaction rate with live chats, skyrocketing way above the likes of emails, social media, and irksome phone calls.
In the world of instant gratification we live in, long wait times for company phone support is an unappealing option. An integrated instant messaging platform shows that your startup is going above and beyond the traditional support channels to place a higher value on customer service. Additionally, providing better customer service is also one of the most effective ways to gain more customer referrals.
As an aspiring startup, you’ll want to get in your customers’ good books and, considering 91% of global consumers want real-time assistance, incorporating live chats into your e-commerce site wouldn’t be a bad move!
These are the friendly, advanced “robots” that have been programmed to answer a ton of consumer questions based on preset rules. This impressive crossover between customer support and technology means chatbots are equipped to handle any complex queries your customers may have.
With daily AI interactions increasing 40% between 2018 and 2020, chatbots easily guide consumers through a unique selection process (just like an in-store sales adviser usually would).
This, of course, isn’t overlooking the value of human interaction. Instead, it provides a quick way to address pain points and offer solutions before an individual decides to click out of a page.
The benefits of AI chatbots for startups can be immense, too. They’re a lot cheaper to maintain because you don’t need to pay the staffing costs like you would for live chat. Plus, your AI chatbot responds no matter the time of day, so you can boost conversion rates around the clock – even in your sleep!
Integrating conversational commerce into your site
Optimizing for voice search
Without having to build your own Alexa, you’ll be pleased to know that you can optimize your site for voice search by calibrating your search engine optimization (SEO). Let’s break down the ways you can go about it:
- Keep it casual: Remember that people talk to their voice assistants a lot differently to how they physically type queries. Be sure to write your content as if you’re speaking, so voice search can pull answers from your site to give to potential customers.
- Prioritize mobile responsiveness: This a fundamental part of any SEO strategy, but it’s especially important here because consumers are using the voice search feature on smartphones to aid their on-the-go lifestyles. If voice search pulls up your site in response to a user’s query, that person might end up clicking out of the page if it doesn’t work properly or is super slow.
- Stay local: You’ll be way ahead of the game when it comes to including regional indicators on your site because of how often consumers use voice search to find local businesses. Incorporating keywords like “near me” in your meta descriptions and titles is a conversational and easy way of optimizing for voice search if someone was to say something like: “Hey Siri, where’s the best Italian restaurant near me?”
Adding live chat to your site
The most common tools for integrating live chat into your website are:
- External platforms: LiveChat and Sendinblue are platforms that can help you install and maintain your live chat. We’d recommend Sendinblue’s free plan, which allows you to get started with conversational technology without breaking the bank.
- Website builder apps: A ton of website builders come with the option to add a live chat functionality to your site. Just be sure to check whether this feature requires a third-party app integration first, so you know what to expect!
- CMS plugins: For our WordPress fans reading, you’re in the right place. There’s usually a corresponding plugin for live chat, and WordPress actually has more than 150 live chat plugins to choose from.
Implementing an AI chatbot
Similarly to adding live chat to your site, to add an AI chatbot, you can either use a built-in function (for a website builder) or a plugin (for a content management system like WordPress) — a couple of good recommendations include Botsify, and Collect.Chat.
These options really depend on how you built your website. Alternatively, you can go down the route of hiring a UX designer/developer to install AI into your site. This is definitely a costly option, though, so decide if you definitely need it before investing the big bucks.
So – back to our bold statement of conversational commerce being the future of e-commerce. As you can see, it’s safe to say the demand for businesses to create more personalized shopping experiences is growing.
As an aspiring entrepreneur looking to make your mark, implementing conversational commerce is a smart, well-established move to keep yourself ahead of the game.
Not only does it blur the lines between consumer and business conversations, but conversational commerce is also a good way of getting direct feedback from consumers to help improve your business model.
Conversation will always be at the heart of relationship building, so try some of the simple tricks we mentioned above to get in on the action of this thriving digital sector.
“Alexa, power down.”
Images from Website Builder Expert