Why Conversation Is the Future of Commerce

Credit : Facebook IQ

It’s time to meet people where they are: Shopping in their favorite messaging apps. Learn how conversational commerce—or c-commerce—is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of today's consumer.

Is the futurist within you always on the hunt for the next big thing? Well, it just might be that the next big thing is actually the convergence of two big things. Consider conversational commerce. As people increasingly embrace shopping via chat, conversational commerce is igniting a global movement that is only set to grow.

With the on-the-go, on-demand convenience that mobile affords, people now have zero tolerance for friction. Many are literally reappraising the relative values of time, effort and money. In fact, 58% of the people we surveyed globally now consider convenience alongside price when deciding where to shop.

With 87% of the world’s smartphone population messaging—and 100B messages exchanged across Facebook products each day—conversation is uniquely positioned to answer shoppers’ call for better experiences.

Case in point: Last holiday season, 2 in 3 people surveyed globally told us they had messaged a business.

Whether they are seeking product information, gift advice, a store location, flexible delivery, a dinner reservation or an impulse purchase, people chat with businesses for a wide range of reasons.

Conversational commerce—or c-commerce—is when people and businesses connect through chat or voice assistance with the intent to drive purchase of goods or services. This behavior has rapidly become mainstream across the globe and presents brands with powerful chances to engage shoppers in fresh ways.

To find out what’s driving this trend, where it’s headed and how strategists can use it to surface new opportunities for connection, we commissioned Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to conduct focus groups, in-depth interviews and an online survey of 8,864 people across nine markets. Scroll on to see what c-commerce buyers* reveal about the future of shopping.

Conversation is delivering next-level brand experiences

Conversation shortens the distance between wanting and having, and people globally are embracing c-commerce across a wide range of categories—with fashion and beauty leading the charge. Conversation’s unique power becomes clear when looking at c-commerce buyers' top reasons for chatting with businesses:

Essentially, conversation delivers exactly the kind of quick and personalized experiences that meet, exceed and even redefine the needs of today's shoppers. And it can take just one of these amazing experiences to raise someone’s standards forever—to make yours the brand people choose first. These experiences often combine people’s favorite parts of shopping in-store (e.g., consulting with a salesperson) and their favorite parts of shopping online (e.g., the convenience of shopping whenever they want).

With convenience being more important than ever, it’s also worth noting that conversation happens where consumers are already spending time. When asked where they engage in c-commerce, half of buyers say they do so primarily through social media and messaging platforms. And 90% say they do on Facebook platforms (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram).

Engaging via messaging platforms like Messenger or WhatsApp can be a powerful way to connect with shoppers where they are and on their terms. However, the effectiveness of c-commerce is driven largely by execution: Consumers expect businesses to answer quickly and provide useful responses.

This responsiveness is key to building valuable long-term relationships. Nearly 1 in 3 c-commerce buyers say they chat with businesses in order to determine if they’re trustworthy and credible.

Conversation is expanding e-commerce

C-commerce is not just growing the universe of online shoppers—it is associated with higher spending too. Research reveals that the ongoing, trusting and personal connections people develop with brands and sellers via conversations often lead to new interactions, more effective personalized recommendations and higher spending.