After a long day at work, you relax on the couch, pick up your smartphone and quickly text a friend. Then open the smartphone browser and look for a new washing machine, for example. You've been looking for days, but due to the large number of models available you haven't been able to make a decision yet. You discover that the online shop you are in now offers contact via WhatsApp. The chat started quickly and a conversation began that could otherwise only take place in brick-and-mortar retail with a friendly salesperson. All questions and requests can be expressed here in order to find the right model for your own needs.

After the interview, you are convinced that you have found the right washing machine and would like to buy it. You place your order directly in the chat and receive a link for payment and the final completion of the order. In the following hours and days you will receive all information about the status of your order and the progress of the shipment - also via WhatsApp.

Build trust through personal communication

The example described so harmoniously and perfectly in the introduction is a variant of conversational commerce. It means addressing the customer in his comfort zone - where you usually don't reach him, at least not in a personal way. In case of questions, doubts or complaints, the customer can contact a member of staff directly. He doesn't have to first write a long e-mail or wait a long time in the waiting queue of a service hotline. When the answer comes, the customer determines the time at which he wants to continue the communication. This strengthens the bond with the shop and gives the customer room to make their own decisions.

An AI alone is often not enough for this. The more personal and empathetic the contact with the customer, the more open they are to making a purchase decision. A relationship of trust only develops when communication reaches a certain depth. This works best with a real human on the other end of the chat.

Accompany the customer journey personally

Messages via a messenger bring a certain ease for the customer. He does not have to react immediately to the incoming information and can still refer to it. The buying process is not interrupted, but is only in the queue, without any pressure to act. Through the contact via WhatsApp, as it comes about in the example mentioned, the entire customer journey is accompanied by personal support. From initial product advice to the actual order and information on the payment method to tracking the shipment, customers enjoy personal support via their messenger. Even after delivery, for any after-sales activities, the messenger is an advantageous channel to increase customer loyalty and expand the service. Conversational Commerce makes online shopping more personal and even more convenient. The entire customer journey receives a real assistant that can prevent almost any interruption.

Conversational Commerce as a growing channel

In the USA and Asia, conversational commerce has long been part of everyday life. In Europe, the ongoing digitization – accelerated by the pandemic – has ensured that at least this new type of distribution is being dealt with and seriously considered.

Conversational Commerce is more than just a chatbot or voice commerce via Alexa, which is less suitable for products that require explanation. After all, customers wouldn't seriously say, "Alexa, buy me a washing machine!". Rather, it forms a bridge between digital communication and e-commerce.

71% of Germans regularly use messenger services such as WhatsApp, iMessage or Meta Messenger (ARD/ZDF online study 2021). Among younger users it is even 93%. Typically, these services are used to keep in close personal contact with family and friends. We are familiar with the messengers and we communicate very openly via these channels. However, the hurdle to conversational commerce lies in the customer's trust in this new sales channel. Because the media reporting on deficits in data protection and other backgrounds of the parent companies do not prevent private communication, but do not help to overcome the skepticism about purchasing processes via these messengers. Here, sensitive communication and technically secure actions in the customer journey are required on the part of the retailer in order to justify the trust of the customers.

Conversational Commerce: The strategically sensible entry point

The planned introduction and use of this channel is important for a successful addition to the customer journey. Because only those who consistently integrate these new ways of customer communication into the sales process and use them sustainably will be able to benefit from increasing sales and good ratings in the long term. Quality before quantity: The right channels must be used professionally.

The first thing to do is to find out whether your target group uses Messenger or social media services at all. The next step is to assess whether the products or services offered require intensive consultation. It is only worth expanding the customer service infrastructure if you can answer both of these questions with a definite yes. Because it is important to master the increasing need for communication and, above all, to be available for quick communication in the evenings and at weekends.

We at communicode AG build digital bridges to connect people and markets. As an interdisciplinary team of specialists for digital transformation, we focus on strategic consulting, conception and implementation of interactive business and communication measures. Are you unsure whether you already really know your target group? You don't know exactly how conversational commerce can be integrated into your e-commerce strategy and the customer journey? Feel free to contact us. We support you in finding the right way of personal contact with your customers.