Retail companies can’t ignore conversational commerce, and that’s why

Anna Sopova

The retail’s B2C communication used to be a realm of email once. To stay in touch with customers and keep them coming back, companies relied on email almost exclusively. But the world has changed. Today, email is far from being a reliable mean of communication. On average, only 20% of emails are opened, and only 2% of those lead to a click or response.

In an effort to compensate for the declining power of email, businesses turn to Conversational commerce, also known as cCommerce. Coined by the inventor of hashtag Chris Messina, this term refers to the one-on-one interaction with customers over the phone or on chatting platforms.

What is conversational commerce?

First of all, commerce is all about conversation. Since humans first began trading, they have been using conversation to drive sales and create a memorable customer experience. From asking a sommelier in a restaurant about which wine you should order to messaging a boutique on Instagram to find if they still have that t-shirt left, conversation has always been a fundamental part of sales.

In the modern world, conversations can be automated. When we use the term "Conversational commerce", we are referring specifically to that automated experience.

At Apifonica, we define cCommerce as consumers interacting with business reps, AI-powered bots, or both, through SMS, chat apps, or voice technology.

What’s in cCommerce for the retail sector?

Conversation can add value on every step of the customer journey, from the moment when a customer considers making the first purchase to the day when they eventually turn into brand advocates. The cCommerce’s secret weapon is its ability to "humanize" automated interactions, make them feel much more human. Also, conversation reduces the effort that a customer has to make to complete an action.

But it’s not solely customer that benefits from Conversational commerce. At Apifonica, we use four categories to help businesses define the goals they expect to reach with automated conversations.

Cost reduction

Powered by AI-technology, call- and chatbots can handle standard conversations as good as humans, but way faster and cheaper. Take HR Voicebot, a callbot that conducts screening phone interviews with jobseekers: it consistently proves to cut the time and cost of recruitment by 4-8 times.

Insuperable reach

cCommerce is not about just sending messages and placing calls. It’s about knowing what exactly is happening to every call and message at any moment. When a callbot identifies a busy phone line or no-answer, it automatically makes repeat call attempts. When a chatbot spots undelivered or unread message, it tries to reach recipient over alternative channels. This results in 80-90% contact success rate - quite a difference as compared to email.

Optimized conversion rate

cCommerce has something that email misses: a sense of immediacy. A conversation happens "here and now", captures attention and prompts customers to take action right away. Experience of dozens of Apifonica’s clients shows that SMS drives action three times better than email, while phone call outperforms both by 4-8 times.

Emotional impact

Automated dialogue can make an emotional impact comparable to a real conversation. Imagine a sports fan receiving a personal phone call from their favourite football player. Even though the call is a pre-recorded voice message distributed by a robot, fans get excited. Apifonica’s customers consistently receive a remarkably positive reaction from their audience in response to conversational campaigns.

Getting started with conversational commerce

When starting to think about conversational commerce and how it will apply to your business, you need to focus on software to power your conversations. Here are the three common approaches to consider.

Dedicated software

A software that allows you to chat with customers across multiple channels from within a single interface. While this may be the fastest way to get started with cCommerce, it could be tricky to make it work together with your other systems, like CRM or OMS.

CRM or marketing automation system

Some CRM and MA systems offer basic cCommerce functionality like sending SMS messages or running message marketing campaigns. They allow you to manage conversations along with other activities and provide a complete view of all your customer interactions.

Customized solution on top of a cCommerce platform

Cloud cCommerce platforms offer virtually unlimited B2C communication capabilities, tailored to your exact needs. It may take longer to implement, but well worth it if you want to go beyond the basic automation.

For more information about conversational commerce solutions for the retail sector, visit the dedicated page on our website.

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