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In our day-to-day lives, we have so many different methods of communication to choose from. We may favor one over others, and may reserve certain methods for certain people. For example, you might email your work colleagues, call up a business, and message your friends over WhatsApp. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could do all these things via the same medium? That’s where conversational commerce comes in.

What is conversational commerce?

Conversational commerce is a term that was coined a couple of years ago by Chris Messina, director of experience for Uber. He defined it in the following way:

“… Utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.”

It may sound complicated, but the principle is simple. Conversational commerce allows businesses and their customers to communicate via messaging apps. Consumers will be able to discover new products, order them, pay for them, track the status of their orders and talk to customer service reps through apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Messaging apps have matched the popularity of social media in the last couple of years, so it makes sense that this is where businesses would go next. Plus, a lot of businesses already use live chat tools to talk to their customers on their websites. This is particularly useful for delivering customer service. In the very near future, businesses will appear in a person’s contact list within a messaging app.

What are the benefits of conversational commerce?

Conversational commerce offers benefits to both the business and their customers. Here are just a few of them:

  • It’s natural – Talking over messenger generally leads to a more natural conversation than through email or filling in a form online. Consumers may find it easier to send this kind of message and are therefore more likely to make contact.
  • It saves time – Consumers will no longer have to browse multiple websites to compare products and providers. They simply need to make a request to a business, and they’ll do the research for them. They can then complete the purchase and pay within the same conversation.
  • It’s private – Messaging is a private method of communication, so it affords both the business and the customer more privacy. For businesses, this reduces the risk of customers complaining publicly on social media and tarnishing their reputations.
  • It’s on record – Businesses will have access to the conversations they’ve had with their customers, allowing them to monitor and learn from them to improve their service.

Conversational commerce is well on its way, and some businesses are already testing out Facebook Messenger for Business. Keep an eye out for these functionalities becoming more widely available. Start thinking about how you can implement conversational commerce in your business.