Conversational commerce: The hottest digital trend empowering B2C and B2B businesses
Here’s a fact: behind any type of business there’s a human being. So whether you’re in charge of a B2C operation or a B2B one, at the end of the day your challenge is the same: you will have to convince a person to like — and buy — your product or service.
With that in mind, every strategy you plan needs to consider basic human needs and behaviors. And one of the most important needs of us as social beings is not only to speak, but to be heard. That’s a real conversation, when it occurs both ways.
Coincidentally, that’s what we also call Web 2.0 — websites that really give people the chance to not only receive information but to also create and disseminate their own via a participatory culture and an emphasis on user-generated content. For example, Web 2.0 brought forward social media, a powerful tool that enables you to socialize and interact with a wide audience of potential customers that you’d have no access to otherwise.
In the middle of those trivial conversations with an amplified reach, there’s an amazing space for business. Monetizing those conversations is not only possible but also powerful, especially if we consider interesting tools such as chatbots. Why powerful? Because you’re not only listening to and reaching millions of people in real time, but you are also automatizing processes, allowing businesses to grow rapidly and exponentially, as well.
The opportunity for conversational commerce
All the concepts above accurately explain what “conversational commerce” is. Chris Messina coined this term to describe how real-time conversations between brands and customers in messaging apps, powered by either chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) or persons, can be monetized.
There are plenty of circumstances that fit that value proposition and that validate how useful conversational commerce can be to brands. For example, having an end-consumer reaching out to your brand via your Instagram account. Or a convenience store needing to place a bulk order to its distributor via WhatsApp (a reality for any B2B business, especially in LATAM).
Social media platforms and messaging apps have become regular contact channels for any type of business, mostly because clients are expecting and demanding to be able to buy in every single space they are present in, something we have touched upon in a previous omnichannel article. The more the popularity of these channels has grown, the more opportunities for improved customer support and transactional interactions have appeared.
Nowadays, 66% of consumers trust more in brands that use messaging apps as a customer service channel, according to Facebook. And, according to Helpshift, 83% of customers would prefer being served by a messaging app service if that implies an immediate response. Plus, super apps like WeChat have more than 1.2 billion active monthly users; Facebook Messenger has more than 40 million users monthly, out of which 75% recognize using it to get in touch with their brands.
How to profit from conversational commerce
Usually, companies start serving these alternative sales channels in a conventional way, designating a person or even a team to answer to each inquiry. Some have evolved into WhatsApp Business accounts or resorted to outsource a call center.
All solutions are applicable, but they are definitely not scalable, mainly because shoppers usually have no patience and expect immediate responses, no matter if it’s night or day. Therefore, the best way to strategically serve this type of clients throughout the purchasing journey is to implement conversational commerce inside your brand. And that’s possible with VTEX.
At VTEX, we’re starting to see clients use WhatsApp to receive orders, thus creating a new sales channel but at the same time reducing the workload of their call center and streamlining their operations to provide real value to the customers in case of atypical questions. Examples include grocery chain Grupo Éxito and fashion brand C&A.
In the next four years, Juniper Research Agency expects conversational commerce to rise over 590% and chatbots to account for 50% of conversational commerce spend. There is a clear shift in consumer expectations towards more personalized and immediate interactions with brands, a good enough reason to jump on the bandwagon.
This is why VTEX has been heavily investing on this front by acquiring Suiteshare and why our co-Founder and co-CEO, Mariano Gomide de Faria, highlighted that “we operate in a messaging-centric world where customers are pushing brands to deliver real-time conversational experiences that feel authentic and natural”. According to him, we are experiencing the death of browsers and conversational commerce is the way forward.
VTEX’s next step is enabling retailers to deliver modern, convenient and interactive shopping experiences for their buyers, bringing about an increase in engagement and conversion rates. Considering the usage of messaging apps has now surpassed social media platforms by 20% more active users, VTEX bets for a future where conversational commerce will be at the center of any omnichannel experience. Will you?