Chat Commerce & the Rise of the DM Only Store

It looks like a little more conversation creates a whole lot of conversion.

After falling deep into house-bound mode, with retail therapy being one of the main means of coping, customers have become well acquainted with the onslaught of retargeted ads, sales notifications, shopping carts and delivery times. Despite the myriad of ways available for buyers to make an online purchase now, messaging sellers directly has slowly become the go-to. The (pandemic-forced) rise of Instagram DM-only stores, WeChat, and amazing growth of social shopping apps like Gen-Z targeted Depop (its top sellers are known to take in $100,000 annually), ‘always-on’ seller availability is now a default expectation in the overall customer experience.

The personal assistant-like nature of Chat Commerce, or conversational commerce, is nothing new. Emulating the experience of buying from a friend, two-way communication through messenger Apps like WeChat, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct Messages make it quick, easy and efficient for businesses and consumers alike to facilitate sales and buyer trust in a direct way – and it looks like this means is here to stay. 

Used strategically, online retailers can innovate their approach to further enhance a customer’s experience  – making it seamless, helpful and in turn, helps to drive feedback based growth for the business. Whether it’s establishing your brand’s tone, cultivating brand loyalty through connection or lending a ‘human touch’ to contactless shopping, customers are more likely to spend money with brands who will go the extra mile to elevate customer engagement and to make their shopping experiences delightful and enjoyable.

But is the art of conversation all you need? 

Brands like Taco Bell have creatively used messaging for quick-fire campaigns (the aptly named TacoBot lets you order your favourite tacos with a few quick text prompts), ironically using AI-powered natural language technology to provide the ‘human’-like side of on-on-one customer service at scale.  Sephora’s chatbot, the Sephora Virtual Artist, enables people to try on different lip colors using selfie photos. Catching onto this, Facebook’s newly launched app, Facebook Business Suite, which combines Facebook Messenger and Instagram chat into a unified inbox, makes it easier for businesses to receive alerts, notifications and messages all in one space, with a view to integrate Whatsapp in the future as well. 

5 Examples of E-Commerce Chatbot Uses

TacoBot

Sephora Reservation Assistant (left) is an appointment booking bot to reserve a makeover at Sephora stores. Color Match for Sephora Virtual Artist (right) is a shade matching bot

 Facebook Ads to Bots Journey (ads that link to Chatbots instead of landing pages) – from Shopify

Using Chatbots to highlight Coupons

Aerie’s bot has a unique ‘THIS’ or ‘THAT’ option, where users are shown an image of two different styles and choose one to narrow down their tastes and find the right product.

It seems like there are endless possibilities when it comes to ChatCommerce, so how can your business use this to your advantage? 

  1. Familiarize yourself with the language your customers use, their spending habits and their behaviour on your site and information that bears value for them.
  2. Review your FAQs, reverse engineer your customers’ pain points and see if you’re able to create shortcuts by acknowledging them upfront.
  3. Develop a chatbot and position it where your customers spend the majority of their time. The main goal is to reduce task or app switching, and help customers get to what they want with the shortest amount of friction.
  4. Ensure that conversational mechanisms stay helpfully human. Enabling quick recommendations based on best-sellers, previous visits or purchases, providing time-saving solutions and ensuring that your customers get specific answers without information overload goes a long way.

Are there ways your e-Commerce business can be optimised or automated?

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