Voice and messaging applications developed on the basis of artificial intelligence (AI) enable consumers to chat with companies, ask questions, obtain personalized advice and recommendations or make purchases at any time and from any location. The dissolution of the boundaries of shopping thus seems to be reaching its peak with messaging apps and voice-controlled smart devices. How is a company optimally prepared for the coming paradigm shift?

The evolution of C-Commerce

The term Conversational Commerce (C-Commerce) first appeared in 2015 in an article by product designer Chris Messina, which was published on Medium. There he describes the increasing overlap between messaging apps and B2C commerce as Conversational Commerce. Today, the range of meaning of C-Commerce has expanded considerably and includes numerous communication processes: For example, the entire interaction of potential customers with companies through chat and messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat or through voice assistants such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple Siri can now be summarized under the keyword.

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Messaging apps

As the origin of C-Commerce, it is not surprising that leading companies and experienced marketers are already using digital messaging channels. Conversational marketing measures are standard, especially for global market leaders. Accordingly, order confirmations, product details as well as shipping and delivery notifications can be sent via Facebook Messenger if desired. Uber lets customers order an Uber-taxi directly from WhatsApp and in China, lunch is already paid for at every corner via WeChat.

According to a recent LivePerson study, two-thirds of global consumers want to contact companies via Messenger, with demand being highest in European countries. 49% are even willing to spend more money with a company that offers messaging as a contact option. No wonder, for example, when you consider the increasing number of users of the top messenger services in Germany: While the Apple Messages App now claims 15.1 million active users daily, 18.1 million people in Germany use Facebook Messenger every day. With 58 million users, the vast majority of consumers rely on WhatsApp as their daily messenger of choice.

Chatbots

In order to optimize or simplify such customer service as well as the customer journey via automatisms, many companies use chatbots. The bots can fully automate communication processes such as problem solving, (product) recommendations and real-time interactions with customers.

Studies also show that the trust of Germans in chat offers and their regular use is growing. Although consumers use chat offers primarily for classic customer support, they are already the second most frequently used for shopping support. In the era of intelligent voice assistants, chat bots are a useful option for consumers whose trust in smart speakers has not yet been won in terms of privacy or cost.

Top-Trend Voice Assistants

Smart Speakers à la Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod have long since entered the everyday lives of many consumers. Various current studies deal with the use, evaluation and development of language assistants on the worldwide market.

The technology and functionality of language assistants is developing at a sometimes breathtaking speed and is becoming increasingly popular among potential customers for various reasons. At the Google I/O developer conference, it was even demonstrated how Voice Assistants will not only be able to make purchases for you in the future thanks to AI, but will also be able to arrange appointments for you without the need for online reservations:

Strategy first! These 5 points lead you to the goal

The enormous growth in computing power and the AI-based development of speech recognition and communication technologies will revolutionize not only the relationship between man and machine but also the entire world of commerce. It has been proven that these changes not only create great opportunities for manufacturers and dealers but also new challenges such as loss of control over customer access or additional competitive pressure. The following aspects are especially important if you want to make your business successful with a elaborate C-Commerce strategy:

1. Try convenience!

According to a Capgemini study, convenience (52%) and the ability to do things hands-free or on the side (48%) are the two main reasons why voice assistants are preferred to mobile applications or websites. If the stressful everyday life and busy schedules in a fast moving society can be relieved by easy multi-tasking, many consumers turn to smart devices.

Chatbots and voice assistants are also available around the clock for customer needs. Unlike human employees, they can handle complicated transactions and orders even after hours. On the business side, it is therefore important not only to offer the end customer spontaneous and convenient shopping and support options, but also to adapt them to the completely new, dialogue-oriented customer experience.

2. Simple and direct

What customers particularly appreciate are fast and simple ordering or consulting processes. With the smartphone as a permanent companion and personal assistance to the online shopper, conversations can be held and direct enquiries made without long waiting times. If the user has a question in his mind, he can write it down and send it directly within a few moments instead of having to find a free time slot for a telephone appointment. If a purchase intention is present for just a moment, a few words are enough to place a quick order via the language assistant.

Consumers also have a clear idea of the product they want and are only deterred by excessive advice and recommendation bombardments. Purchase decisions are therefore made in a short time and on the basis of the few underlying pieces of information provided by the retailer, which should definitely be taken into account in your strategy.

3. Beware of the hype

Looking at the rapidly increasing market shares and global revenues of cloud-based conversational commerce, a company has no choice but to invest as quickly as possible. This is not quite correct, because it is more relevant to first of all assess exactly whether and to what extent voice and messenger services are useful for your business concept.

It would be a mistake to regard measures in the field of C-Commerce as a universal self-runner, as different customer needs and other cost-benefit ratios exist depending on the target group and company niche. For example, a recent survey by the student initiative MTP shows that the majority of young students are reluctant to stay in a room with smart speakers. A marketing campaign for student discounts would therefore be out of place here.

4. Select channels sensibly

Numerous product comparisons and recommendation lists on the net illustrate the number of different smart speakers and messengerservices that accompany the everyday life of potential customers. Even if the focus is on Amazon Echo (68%), Google Home (22%) and Apple HomePod (5%), which are the most frequently used language assistants in Germany, the customer needs as well as the purchasing behavior of these consumer groups differ enormously. The same applies of course to various messaging services.

Extensive research and the listing of potential advantages and disadvantages for your business are therefore on the agenda here. In order to achieve tailor-made marketing in the area of C-Commerce, it is not only crucial to know your customers well and to play out personalized content, but also to adapt your own strategy and channel selection accurately to your target group.

5. Customer loyalty with all senses

The ongoing developments in Conversational Commerce offer marketers a new dimension in inspiring potential customers worldwide and building close and lasting relationships with them. Positive experiences with voice or chat assistants lead to more confidence in the company among 72% of consumers, 71% have shared the former with friends and family and a full 64% have communicated positively on social networks about their experience.

So while the confidence of German consumers in language assistants and their product recommendations is gradually growing, companies can benefit greatly from effective measures. In the future, eye-catching, unmistakable photos in product feeds and convincing acoustics will become a distinguishing feature, as consumers no longer navigate through product suggestions with their fingertips, but with their eyes and ears.