Conversational E-commerce: The Future of Online Retail
August 2, 2023

Conversational E-commerce: The Future of Online Retail

As we enter a new era of digital commerce, a term is gaining steam among eCommerce marketers and savvy online retailers: "Conversational E-commerce."

This rapidly growing solution is transforming the way brands engage with their customers, ushering in an age of personalized, real-time, and seamless shopping experiences.

Conversational commerce at its core is the philosophy of meeting a customer where they are, as opposed to expecting them to come to you. It takes the traditional online shopping experience and elevates it by allowing customers to interact directly with a brand…

And, conversational e-commerce is revolutionizing the customer journey, delivering convenience, and fostering lasting relationships between brands and their customers.

What is Conversational E-commerce?

At its core, conversational e-commerce is the intersection of shopping and technology- giving product experts and personal shoppers the ability to deliver excellent customer experiences anywhere in the world, 24/7.

Although most of the conversational commerce platforms use chatbots, messaging apps, and other automated tools to interact with customers in real-time and provide an interactive shopping experience, specialty solutions like Humankind offer conversational commerce software that allows personal shoppers to connect directly with a customer creating a 1:1 human connection between the brand and the customer.

The defining element of conversational e-commerce is its emphasis on real-time, personalized interactions. This is what separates conversational commerce from solutions that use workflow logic or chat support features.

Whether through human representatives, AI-powered chatbots, or a mix of both, brands can serve customers thoughtfully through the power of connection. This way, the customers get the answers they need without needless waiting or back-and-forth, creating a better buying experience.

The Rise of Conversational E-commerce

The rapid adoption of conversational e-commerce has been primarily driven by the growing reliance of consumers on messaging functionalities for all forms of communication. What started with the phone, and then email, has now become an omnichannel connection strategy that crosses the boundaries from Facebook, to Instagram, to TikTok, and other platforms.

At Humankind, we focus on the most powerful platform, SMS, because you always have your phone! Think about the last time you left the house and forget your phone... if you're like me, you probably felt a momentary sense of panic when you realized you didn't have it on you!

eCommerce industry experts estimate that global spending over conversational commerce channels will reach $290 billion by 2025, signifying the rising importance and popularity of this mode of commerce.

What makes conversational e-commerce attractive to both consumers and businesses is the convenience it offers. Consumers can interact with brands, get customer support, ask questions, read reviews, and make purchases, all within their favorite messaging apps.

For brands, eCommerce stores, and businesses this approach offers a means to enhance customer engagement, and customer satisfaction (CSAT), and boost conversion rates (CVRs), all while reducing the steps required- thereby shortening the distance between a prospect and a purchase.

Main Channels of Conversational E-commerce

When it comes to implementing conversational e-commerce, there are four main channels that brands can leverage:

  1. Live Chat: Live chat serves as a pop-up chat window within a company's website, offering a channel designed to improve response time and customer service. It's typically monitored by staff who work behind the scenes to answer questions and provide support to customers, offering a less expensive option than phone-based assistance.
  2. Chatbots: As an alternative to live chat, many companies use chatbots. Using AI, chatbots are computer programs designed to understand customer questions and automate appropriate responses. They can assist multiple customers simultaneously and offer relevant information within seconds.
  3. Messaging Apps: Messaging apps such as SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat are increasingly being used on e-commerce websites. Customers can use these platforms to ask questions, make purchases, and receive product recommendations.
  4. Voice Assistants: Voice commerce is a form of conversational e-commerce that allows customers to make purchases through voice-activated services like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Siri.

As I mentioned earlier at Humankind, we focus on SMS because it's the fastest and most convenient way for a customer to interact with your brand. It also feels very different for a customer than messaging with a chatbot. Humankind's conversational commerce software empowers 1:1 human connection and feels more like texting a friend - making your customers feel heard and understood.

Benefits of Conversational E-commerce

Conversational e-commerce presents numerous benefits to both customers and businesses:

  • Increased Engagement: By incorporating conversational e-commerce into touchpoints such as website chat buttons and through social media, companies can increase engagement by providing customers with an easy way to learn more about products.
  • Reduced Cart Abandonment: Conversational e-commerce helps to bring customers back and turn them into buyers through tools such as automated email messages, pop-up reminders, and shared product information, ultimately reducing cart abandonment rates.
  • Obtaining Useful Feedback: Conversational commerce helps provide real-time customer feedback through surveys and messages, often delivered by a chatbot, and typically soon after a purchase is made. This helps businesses understand what's working and what needs improvement.
  • Boosting Online Sales: Conversational commerce automation makes it easy to promote upselling and cross-selling since AI can instantly access vast amounts of data and make personalized recommendations based on that information. These tactics work together to nurture the customer relationship, which often leads to a boost in sales.
  • Building Brand Loyalty: Customized solutions, built through conversational commerce strategies, show buyers that the brand they are considering is worth their time and money. Creating a streamlined experience, with plenty of engagement and personalization, is key to increasing customer retention and boosting lifetime brand loyalty.

Our partnership with OLAXPLEX Skincare showcases the value of using conversational commerce software to do just that. OLAXPLEX needed an innovative way to engage customers with personalized recommendations while building customer loyalty, increasing customer satisfaction, and thereby, sales.

We were able to set up a fully integrated conversational commerce experience, including quizzes and surveys that gather the relevant information from a customer to provide expert-level assistance. Then we connect the customer with a hair professional who's qualified to not only give recommendations on their hair but is also a trained product expert.

Each recommendation was delivered to the customer on a beautifully designed landing page with a one-click add-to-cart feature that made buying simple.

The result? OLAXPLEX increased customer satisfaction (CSAT) to 4.94 (out of 5). You can read more about it in our case study with their team.

Humankind: A Unique Approach to Conversational E-commerce

In a world where conversational e-commerce is quickly becoming the norm, Humankind Conversational Commerce Software stands out as a unique solution because Humankind is the only conversational commerce software on the market that allows brands to create a 1:1 human connection between themselves and their customers.

Unlike many other solutions in the market, Humankind's primary focus is on supercharging human interactions, rather than replacing them with AI solutions. However, Humankind is not complacent. We're currently integrating Ai, NLP, and LLM models into our platform to further enhance human interactions and even supercharge them. This approach aligns with the core idea of conversational e-commerce, which is to facilitate real-time, personalized interactions between brands and their customers.

Humankind also integrates directly with all of the major eCommerce platforms - Shopify, BigCommerce, Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento), and others, making it easy for brands to incorporate it into their existing online operations.

As the landscape of conversational e-commerce continues to evolve, Humankind is committed to staying at the forefront, delivering the best possible experience for your brand and your customers.

The Future of E-commerce: Conversational Commerce

As conversational e-commerce continues to grow, more businesses will adopt this approach to improve their customer engagement and drive sales. With advancements in AI, NLP, and LLM, the capabilities of conversational e-commerce tools will continue to expand until it's hard to find a brand that isn't using them.

The reason for this is that conversational commerce is actually using the principles of modern retail clienteling to engage customers on a deeper level. Retail clienteling is a term used to describe the development of relationships between retailers and their customers through personal engagement, individualized offers, and exclusive services and conversational eCommerce is using technology to pave the way back to a more personalized, efficient, and engaging customer interaction.

As a brand, understanding the importance and benefits of conversational e-commerce will be critical in this digital age. Adopting a solution that aligns with your brand's values and your customers' expectations, like Humankind, can help you stay competitive and relevant in the market.

Importance of Conversational Commerce

If you're currently considering conversational commerce in your buyer's journey, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

First and foremost, conversational commerce is about creating a seamless customer experience that encourages engagement and builds trust with your brand. It should be implemented in a way that makes it easy for customers to interact with your brand without feeling overwhelmed.

Conversational commerce is crucial at the "consideration stage" of the buyer's journey because as a brand, you want to be involved in that decision. Since the customer is on your site, they've reached the point where they've researched their options and have started to narrow their choices, and while they may not be 100% sold on your product yet, they're close to being ready to pick a winner!

You want to be present at this step to introduce relevant products, answer questions, and spark interest in buying your products. And, if you're helpful during this phase of the buyer's journey, you're more likely to win that sale versus the other competitor whose site they just browsed.

Connecting your customers with personal shoppers during the decision-making process should be one of the most important considerations in your eCommerce strategy.

Think about the last time you were faced with a big decision and didn't know which way to go. You probably text a friend, called a mentor, or sent an email to someone you trust to help guide you through this decision…

Your customers are no different - if you serve as a trusted advisor to them during the buying journey they're far more likely to see you as a reliable resource and come back to you for future purchases.

In this way, conversational commerce gives brands a competitive advantage by being always available to their customers.

Trends in Conversational Commerce

As conversational commerce continues to evolve, it's important to stay informed about the latest trends in this space.

Recent trends in conversational commerce are focused on enhancing the customer experience and expanding the scope of interactions to the most recent innovations. 

Today, larger companies are also using voice assistants to chat with their customers by interfacing AI tools like Google Assistant, Cortana, Siri, or Alexa with the company through voice commands​, and soon we'll see integrations with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Shopify predicts that the shift toward online shopping will continue, and this will be further driven by the integration of conversational commerce into web stores and the ease of purchases that platforms like Humankind empower brands to create.

Either way, brands will continue to invest heavily in this technology, with a focus on creating a more seamless, interactive, and personalized shopping experience for customers​​.

Considerations When Implementing Conversational Commerce

Many conversational commerce solutions are quite difficult to integrate and require a lot of forethought to get them to function correctly.

Thankfully, Humankind is simple to integrate and use, and you'll be able to start engaging your customers with a few clicks of the mouse.

Keep in mind that many of the tools on the market offer a host of benefits, but there are also certain considerations you take into account when implementing them. This includes ensuring that your brand voice is consistent across all channels, understanding that not all customers will be comfortable with this new form of interaction, and maintaining a balance between automation and human interaction to ensure a positive customer experience​​.

If you're choosing a platform right now, check out our resource, Conversational Commerce Solutions - How to Choose the Right One.

In Conclusion...

The rise of conversational commerce is one of the most exciting developments in eCommerce today. It's clear that conversational eCommerce isn't a passing trend - it's here to stay.

However, as with any new technology, it is important to keep in mind the considerations that come along with implementing a conversational commerce platform and to choose one that aligns with your brand's values and customer expectations.

Humankind is committed to helping brands create a seamless customer experience that allows them to form meaningful relationships with their customers and create a truly personalized buying journey. Our platform is the only one that allows customers to connect directly with personal shoppers, product experts, and virtual concierges to create excellent customer experiences.

If you're looking for a solution that generates massive goodwill, customer satisfaction, and loyalty, book your demo of Humankind today!

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