Imagine this scenario:
You’re at a grocery store to buy wheat flour, because you want to bake some healthy muffins. You search and search, but can’t find the wheat flour, only white. After wandering through the aisles, you give up your search and ask a shop assistant. Within 10 seconds, they lead you to your precious wheat flour and you giggle with joy - muffins here I come!
Satisfied you’ve found exactly what you needed, you then go to the cashier to purchase it. You quickly see it’s going to be quite the wait because you’ve come just after working hours. But luckily, the store notices the shopping flood and sends in another cashier. You move to a newly opened cashier lane and wait in line for less than 5 minutes. You think to yourself, “Wow, they’re great at solving my problems here. I’ll come back for grocery shopping next week, too.”
Now think about this scenario in the context of online shopping:
You visit a fashion website after your friend tells you how amazingly comfortable their clothes are. After doing some searching, you can’t find pants that fit your size, but you want to double check with customer support, because these pants are supposed to be that awesome. You try to contact them, but their contact information is hidden in a maze of complicated website pages. Finally, you find the chat support, but it says that answers can take up to 3 hours. You think to yourself “Geez, why should I wait so long? I just want a pair of pants.” So you quickly leave the website never to return and continue your search on Amazon - because at least they’ve got more choices.
This begs the question: why doesn’t online shopping offer the same level of timely and personalised customer support that traditional in-person shopping does? Is this scenario truly the best customer experience the e-commerce industry can offer?
You’d probably answer with: well, there’s no technology to actually make that happen, so why bother.
Well we’re here to tell you that not only does that technology exist, there’s an entire practice behind replicating the in-store shopping experience in an online setting: conversational commerce.
With concrete numbers to back up how it benefits both e-commerce companies and their customers, conversational commerce isn’t just about periodically tweaking the customer experience, it’s bringing in an entirely new era of e-commerce customer experience that’s here to stay for the long haul.
Conversational commerce is the practice that enables brands to recreate the feeling of a personalised in-store shopping experience across their website and other digital marketing channels. This practice is implemented by specific types of technology that create an informative and interactive shopping experience for modern online buyers.
Conversational e-commerce is nearly identical to the practice of conversational commerce but is specific to the e-commerce industry. E-commerce brands in particular benefit from this practice, because their online shops often include a wide range of products that require a high level of customer support in order to ensure customers find the right product, receive it on time, and are satisfied with it over the long run.
The practice of conversational commerce works best when implemented by technologies that include AI, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning, all of which can be found within a holistic platform known as a Virtual Shopping Assistant. A Virtual Shopping Assistant combines 3 main products: a Conversational AI Chatbot, Conversion Optimization, and Cart Abandonment Emails. The below image clarifies how these technologies work together:
Conversational commerce is an effective business practice for good reason: More and more people are choosing to shop for products online, and they prefer having real-time interactions during their shopping experience rather than waiting hours on end for an answer from customer support.
Here are some interesting statistics that highlight the value of providing a better website experience:
- Nearly 80% of all buyers get in touch with an e-commerce brand for support with their purchases or to learn more about a product or service.
- Almost 50% of all shoppers have used chatbots in the past and are willing to complete a purchase with guided help from the bots.
- Companies who automate conversational commerce report a 10% boost in revenue after the first six months.
- Over 70% of customers say they would spend more with brands that allow for real-time website engagement rather than arrange phone calls to support lines.
The bottom line: the more engaging the website experience a brand offers, the happier customers will be and the more they’ll purchase.
There’s clearly growing demand for conversational commerce from the perspective of both e-commerce brands and e-commerce buyers. So what are some of the emerging trends in the practice of conversational commerce that you should be aware of? Let’s look at a few examples.
1. Proactive chatbots that sell
Chatbots are no longer just reactive waiting to answer questions. Instead, they’re becoming proactive and driving conversions for brands by actively engaging with shoppers as they interact with their websites.
Take Hertz Sweden as an example. By utilizing Kindly’s Conversational AI Chatbot in collaboration with Conversion Optimization software known as Nudge, they were able to actively assist people interested in booking car rentals. The technology helped generate a 23% boost in direct revenue for Hertz Sweden.
2. Interactive buyer guides
As more people conduct their own online research before making a purchase, why not meet them halfway with a helpful interactive buying guide? Using a Conversational AI Chatbot, you can build a helpful and interactive shopping guide that directs people to the items they’re looking for with all of the insights necessary to make an informed purchase decision.
For example, take a look at Birk Sport, a Norwegian bike shop chain. When you first land on the website, you have the option to click on the chatbot bubble to activate it. It does things like:
- Helps you navigate the jungle of different bike types for non bike experts.
- Helps you find the right bike for your budget and use.
- Helps you make a choice that they're happy with, which in turn reduces returns.
- Helps you find their bike buying guide.
- Shows you a list of bike categories you can ask questions about.
3. Heavy promotion of special discounts
Sometimes, you have a great promotion that generates quick wins and lots of revenue. This is especially true during seasonal events when discounts are all the rage and demand for your products is higher than normal.
Black Friday is a perfect example of a shopping event with lots of urgency. People flock to online stores to take advantage of heavily slashed prices ahead of the holiday season. By using a platform like the Virtual Shopping experience to implement conversational commerce, you turbocharge your Black Friday campaign to earn as much revenue as possible from your holiday promotions.
Below is a great example of how one of our customers, blivakker.no, lets customers know which products are on offer, and how much longer the products are on offer for.
We’ve defined conversational commerce, identified a growing demand for the practice, and highlighted emerging trends that will define the future of online shopping. But how can you best use conversational commerce today to generate real results?
Here are a few best practices that will help you get your own strategy up and running.
1. Start with low hanging fruit
Why it matters:
In the context of online shopping and support, low hanging fruit is best described as automated answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). Most shoppers ask variations of the same questions related to pricing, shipping fees, return costs, and use cases for the product.
But people don’t want to wait for hours, sometimes days to get a response from a customer support agent or a follow up email. They want immediate answers, and so should you as the e-commerce brand. After all, there’s an urgency behind their question. If you can answer it immediately, you increase the likelihood that they buy the product right then and there.
What it involves:
In order to automate customer support for FAQs, you can use a Conversational AI Chatbot. This type of chatbot is a 24/7 support agent that is always available to answer questions in real-time. In fact, by using the chatbot, you satisfy both your customers and your employees: The shopper gets the answers they need, and your support staff isn’t bogged down responding to the same questions over and over again.
2. Combined tools are where the magic happens
Why it matters:
Automating FAQs is great, but that alone doesn’t enable conversational commerce to live to its full potential. If you truly want to improve your website experience and improve KPIs, you need a holistic platform like the Virtual Shopping Assistant.
What it involves:
A Virtual Shopping Assistant takes conversational commerce to the max by combining three products: a Conversational AI Chatbot, Conversation Optimization, and Cart Abandonment Emails. These products work together to offer customers the best possible shopping experience from start to finish, make customer support a breeze, consistently learn and improve their efficiency, as well as have the maximum impact on your business growth.
3. See it as a process, not a project
Why it matters:
Conversational commerce informs the entire shopping journey on your website. It can automate the meet and greet leg of the buyer’s journey all the way through the checkout. For that reason, think of this practice as an ongoing process rather than a one-off project. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is no less true here.
What it involves:
We’d recommend looking at this from three main areas along the customer journey:
- What a user should experience when they first come to your website: Do people need some guidance with where to start their search for certain products? Do they need help with their account? Whatever the case may be, the greeting should match customer expectations.
- What information a user needs in order to make a purchase: For example, if you know someone needs to narrow down the right product for them based on their budget, height, and color preferences, then turn that into an interactive buyer guide.
- What methods could keep them on your website and incentivise them to come back for repeat purchases: If you notice that people get overwhelmed due to the variety of products and leave your site or if they regularly abandon carts, what can you do to improve those processes?
All of these factors contribute to a good website experience. So the more personalised and seamless you can make that experience for your particular audience, the more likely they are to make a purchase and come back again later.
4. Enhance your existing marketing analytics
Why it matters:
Every marketer knows that data is key for making more informed decisions. They’re also essential for building personalised audience profiles that allow you to customise the products and offers made available to your particular shoppers. This is how you increase clickthrough and conversion rates while minimising the potential for abandoned carts - some of the most important KPIs that impact business growth.
What it involves:
To give a concrete example, let’s say your e-commerce business has an issue with high amounts of abandoned carts. You can use a Conversion Optimization tool like Nudge that automatically detects exit intent behavior on your website, which then reacts by showing a personalised message that keeps the user on the page and incentivizes them to complete their purchase. With the use of Nudge over time, your cart abandonment rates will decrease and conversion rates will increase.
5. Use metrics that prove ROI and are connected to business success
Why it matters:
To demonstrate the value of conversational commerce, you need to measure its effects using metrics that are related to growth. Data related to revenue, conversions, abandoned carts, and other quantifiable metrics show you how much conversational commerce has improved your business longevity.
What it involves:
Here’s a concrete example of how the ROI is calculated:
6. Pick a solution that grows your business
Why it matters:
Conversational commerce is as effective as you choose to make it. Isn’t your goal to get the maximum impact on your marketing KPIs, customer satisfaction levels, and business longevity? Then don’t just go for a slice, eat the whole cake.
What it involves:
A Virtual Shopping Assistant is the sole platform that empowers you to build the conversational shopping experience that your buyers expect and deserve. Through the power of conversational AI technology, you generate higher conversion rates, and ultimately increase revenue for your business. Not to mention it easily scales with your business growth, is fully customisable and native to your brand, seamlessly integrates with your existing tech stack, and communicates in 14 languages with more added all the time.
Now that you understand the importance of conversational commerce, here are 7 reasons why businesses choose to implement conversational commerce so that it generates the maximum revenue for their business.
1. Improve conversion rates
We’ll start off with highlighting the direct impact on business growth: Implemented using the right platform, conversational commerce has the potential to increase conversion rates across your website. In fact, our customers at Kindly have seen their conversion rates increase by an average of 12%.
By offering more personalised product recommendations based on user behavior, you create the types of shopping experiences that motivate more people to buy. This results in better conversions and more satisfied customers.
2. Reduce customer support costs
Conversational commerce is meant to be a real-time support solution, which is implemented through a product like a Conversational AI Chatbot. A chatbot functions as 24/7 support for your website shoppers, which provides a more effective resource to deliver exceptional customer service without overwhelming your support staff.
At Kindly, our solutions have helped improve both shopper and employee satisfaction. Using our Conversational AI Chatbot, companies like Adecco have reduced support enquiries routed to support agents by 75%. This allows more members of your team to dedicate time and resources towards big picture solutions that can help further scale growth for your business.
3. 24/7 global opening hours
As stated in the previous example, chatbots are meant to function as 24/7 support for your customers. E-commerce brands welcome shoppers from all corners of the world, and support staff are not always available for those far-off timezones. That’s why a chatbot is the best way to service the needs of those international shoppers.
A Conversational AI Chatbot is also exceptional at providing 24/7 support for fast-paced industries. The Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) utilises a chatbot, and they’ve seen a 90% reduction of inbound customer support enquiries thanks to the neverending availability of the chatbot. It’s a great way to let your customers know that your service and support is always available whenever they need it.
4. Recover abandoned carts and shopping processes
Cart abandonment is a very real concern for e-commerce businesses. But as a practice, conversational commerce reduces cart abandonment rates using informative and interactive buying guides that help shoppers make the right purchase decisions.
Sometimes, a shopper may have a great experience but ultimately opt out of the purchase before checking out the items in their cart. Using Kindly’s cart abandonment email solution, you can craft personalised reengagement emails based on the insights acquired from the shopper’s experience. You can drive people directly back to their shopping carts with persuasive messaging so that they’re compelled to complete the checkout. This is exactly how Schibsted managed to improve email clickthrough rates by 40%, which in turn reduced their cart abandonment rate.
5. Help buyers find the right products
A Virtual Shopping Assistant is built to function as a guide for buyers so that they find the right products for their needs. It’s all in the name, and this is one of the most common reasons brands invest in conversational commerce solutions. They want to create digital guides for their online shoppers.
For example, Helly Hansen was able to help customers find the items they wanted and place direct orders with speed and efficiency. Ultimately, these solutions helped boost average order values by 25%.
6. Boost website engagement
In order to increase conversions and purchase rates, you first need to increase the amount of time that people spend on your website. If the goal of conversational commerce is to build real relationships with customers, they need to put in the time on your site to establish those relationships. You need the right solutions that increase time on site.
In addition to boosting average order values, Helly Hansen also reported a 10% increase in overall site engagement through their virtual shopping platform. The higher engagement rates eventually led to greater purchases at higher order values, ensuring a satisfying experience for both brand and consumer.
7. Grow your audience & generate leads
Finally, what if conversational commerce could function as more than just a customer support program? What if it could also enable your lead generation campaigns so that you can nurture more prospects into warm leads with higher potential of buying?
Renault Norway had precisely this idea in mind when they implemented Kindly’s Virtual Shopping Assistant into their website. Specifically, they used the chatbots and conversion optimization software to personalise offers to shoppers and motivate them to book a test drive, especially with their electric cars. The strategy proved very effective, and Renault reports that 10% of all their digital leads are driven by Kindly’s conversational commerce solutions.
We’ve proven conversational commerce is an effective practice at generating real business results. Now, what are some examples of successful conversational commerce experiences that you can use to model your own strategy for future prospects?
1. Helthjem’s improved customer support
Helthjem is a Norwegian shipping and logistics company that delivers packages, magazines, and newspapers to customers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they expanded their service to deliver freshly baked goods to homes courtesy of a partnership with select bakeries across Oslo.
The new offers were a hit with shoppers, but they also led to an overwhelming amount of questions and enquiries about the delivery process. Thanks to Kindly’s Conversational AI Chatbot, Helthjem successfully automated responses to these frequently asked questions and reduced the number of inbound enquiries routed to customer support by 30%.
2. Schibsted's reduction in cart abandonment
Schibsted is an international media group with a family of digital news brands and consumer platforms. They are the largest media group in Scandinavia, and their business has helped shape the nature of the media landscape across much of Europe.
Schibsted has a large segment of active users, but they wanted to monetize as much of their traffic as they could in order to further improve their strong focus on digital subscriptions and their business profitability. By teaming up with Kindly to create Cart Abandonment Messages for their customers, they have successfully generated an 11% increase in total conversion rates across Schibsted newspapers, magazines, and websites under the corporate brand.
Conversational commerce is a great pairing of the latest within AI and machine learning, along with conversion optimization rate technology. Together, these solutions automate and streamline support for online shoppers while ensuring real-time service is provided whenever a shopper needs a helping hand - without having to overwork customer support staff.
As companies look to consolidate total costs while fueling growth for their businesses, AI technology will become more and more important for the future of those brands. Experts are touting conversational commerce as the next big game changer for online shopping, and there are no indications that those predictions will be wrong.
Conversational commerce isn’t just the future of online shopping, it’s now. If your business hasn’t implemented the practice yet, you need to get moving or you’ll get outpaced by the companies who do. When the time comes to get started, we at Kindly are here to help you build a Virtual Shopping Assistant tailored to your unique brand needs.