Find out more about conversational commerce and why it’s considered the future of retail from Joy Corso, Chief Marketing Officer of Vonage through this MartechAsia interview.
Even though brick-and-mortar stores are again open to welcome more consumers, the relevance of online shopping habits created by the COVID-19 pandemic remains. The Seasonal Holidays Study of Meta shows that 67% of year-end APAC shoppers discover new products in physical stores, and a closely-equal figure finds new products on their smartphones.
Forrester also reported that 70% to 85% of e-commerce in APAC will be by phone in 2023. This forecast drives conversational commerce. Conversational commerce involves selling products and services through messaging apps, which will be vital communication and sales channels for consumers and businesses, especially during year-end retail sales events like Black Friday.
Learn more about conversational commerce and why it’s considered the future of retail from Joy Corso, Chief Marketing Officer of Vonage, through this MartechAsia interview.
Corso is leading all areas of the company’s global marketing functions. These key functions include Brand and Creative, Corporate Communications and Events, Content and Web, Demand Generation, Marketing Operations, Product Marketing, and Field Marketing.
What is conversational commerce?
Conversational Commerce refers to an in-demand retail trend, capitalizing on the growing convergence of conversations and shopping on digital platforms like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp using the chat feature to create a seamless shopping experience.
The conversational approach allows consumers to engage with brands in personal conversations, enabling product and pricing inquiry and building trusted relationships with retailers.
This meets the needs of today’s customers, who base their loyalty on good experiences above price or product. Research has shown that 74% of Asia Pacific (APAC) customers are willing to pay more for a great experience, while 75% will leave following bad experiences.
Conversational commerce is becoming increasingly important for businesses and is set to hit US$47 billion in 2023 in Southeast Asia (SEA). According to Meta and Bain & Company, business messaging is an increasingly popular channel in SEA – used by 63% of digital consumers.
What are the benefits of conversational commerce?
Conversational commerce enables retailers to meet customers’ existing and evolving needs.
Some of the benefits include:
● Personalised, instant experience
Integration of messaging apps can enable retailers to offer a customer-centric shopping experience, emulating a sales assistant at a physical store who makes personalised recommendations and guides you through purchases.
This allows the seller to use 24/7 available AI-powered chatbots and voice assistants to instantly cater to and respond to customer queries. This also allows them to gain relevant insights into customer requirements, suggest products, and improve product offerings.
● Enhanced convenience
Conversation commerce enables consumers instant and easy access to brands, products, and sellers. Additionally, conversational commerce allows consumers to complete purchases from their messaging apps, improving satisfaction rates. Not leaving a chat or platform simplifies the purchase and instils that all-important control for the consumer – and together, convenience and control drive the overall experience.
This is aligned with today’s consumer expectations, who want brands to meet them on their terms – at their channel of choice and be engaged in real-time. Companies no longer control how customers contacts and connects with them.
● Improved customer behaviour insights
Businesses can leverage AI to gain insight into customers’ purchasing habits based on conversations with them and eventually use that information to personalise ads and display automated marketing content.
● Reduce abandoned carts
A conversational approach can turn a dumped cart into a fully-converted one. Instead of giving customers canned, one-way messages, brands can give consumers a chance to voice their concerns. Brands also get the chance to respond in real time and even get the results they seek.
Overall, conversational commerce can deliver retailers a higher conversion rate, average order value, and customer loyalty.
How can conversational commerce help marketers and change the future of retail?
The surge in eCommerce has led consumers to increase their use of messaging apps and social media to communicate with merchants and inquire for information instead of searching for them online. Globally, one in five consumers use live chat or in-app chat daily, and three in five consumers video chat with a business more now than 18 months ago.
Regionally too, conversational commerce is booming. Southeast Asia (SEA) has surpassed countries such as the US, Mexico, India, and Brazil in both awareness and adoption of conversational commerce. According to Meta and Bain & Company, business messaging is gaining pace in digital shopping across SEA.
Regarding markets, Indonesia shows the highest penetration, with 77% of respondents using business messaging tools. Other Southeast Asian markets aren’t far behind, with Vietnam at 64%, Malaysia at 61%, the Philippines at 59%, and Thailand at 51%.
As social messaging becomes more valuable to APAC consumers, Vonage’s conversational commerce application is well-placed to help APAC businesses leverage conversational commerce’s full potential.
For instance, L’Oréal Malaysia hosted a 12-hour virtual beauty festival and generated a month’s worth of online sales in only 24 hours. The brand engaged our solution to offer a frictionless shopping experience to their Facebook Live audience.
The key strategy includes encouraging viewers to utilize a dedicated hashtag, “#LancomeMY” in the live comments to express purchase intent. The hashtag triggers a personal conversation with the commenter through Messenger, where a beauty advisor provides one-to-one consultation. Furthermore, they also enabled order placement and seamless payment processing entirely within Messenger.
What are the different strategies of conversational commerce?
Conversational commerce can be implemented in various ways through different channels, depending on the brand’s objectives.
- Product introduction
Marketers can deploy chatbots on messaging apps to introduce their products to a wider audience and enhance their brand awareness. Instant replies by chatbots can help customers at the decision-making stage and increase customer engagement and retention.
- Personalised recommendations
Customer loyalty is shifting from focusing on product and pricing to personalization and experiences. A 2021 survey revealed that 71% of Singaporean consumers are likely to purchase from brands that treat them like a unique human being rather than any other customer. This demand is mirrored across Asia – in India (77%) and Australia (63%).
Conversational commerce aims to offer an experience similar to that of a physical store where salespeople evaluate the customer’s needs and recommend products based on the information provided by the customer. AI-enabled chatbots can understand a customer’s needs and preferences and suggest products accordingly.
- Delivery and customer support
Marketers can use conversational commerce to provide customers with updates on online shopping orders and the delivery process. Chatbots can also respond to customers’ frequently asked questions regarding the delivery process – estimated date of arrival, order status, etc. This is how chatbots can reduce the workload of contact centers and enable employees to complete more value-added tasks.
- In-person shopping booster
Marketers can also use conversational commerce to boost their in-store shopping sales. Consumers in SEA are visiting physical stores more frequently today. But regardless of where they shop, their shopping journeys are directly connected through offline and online channels. According to Adyen’s 2022 Retail Report, 61% of consumers said they would be more loyal to a business that allows buying things online and returning in-store.
What is Vonage? What are the roles and contributions of Vonage to conversational commerce?
Vonage is a global cloud communications leader. We help businesses worldwide accelerate their digital transformation and the connections that matter to them.
The Vonage Communications Platform is fully programmable and allows for integrating Video, Voice, Chat, Messaging, AI, and Verification into existing workflows and systems, activating conversations worldwide across channels.
Our unified communications, contact centre, and conversational commerce applications are built from this platform and enable businesses to transform communication and operation from any location, creating meaningful engagements every time.
Vonage, headquartered in New Jersey, has offices throughout the United States, Europe, Israel, and Asia (Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan & Taiwan). The company has over 2,000 employees, serving more than 120,000 businesses worldwide.
In 2021, we expanded our cloud application programming interface (API) communications portfolio with the acquisition of Jumper.ai, a Singapore-based provider of omnichannel conversational commerce and customer engagement solutions.
With this acquisition, Vonage gained significant technology and developer-focused talent, as well as expertise in conversational commerce, complementing the programmable, flexible, and intelligent capabilities of its singular Vonage Communications Platform and robust portfolio of APIs.
The platform creates omnichannel, messaging-first shopping and customer engagement journeys across social, messaging, and the web (WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, SMS, LINE, Google Ads, Brand websites, and more).
In 2022, Vonage strengthened its Jumper.ai conversational commerce application with new video capabilities and integrations for a more engaging retail experience. The enhancement enables brands to invite buyers to a live video interaction with a customer service agent or an in-store associate. This strategy enables consumers to engage in personal conversations about products from anywhere while helping retailers build trusted relationships with customers.
This MartechAsia interview with Joy Corso, CMO of Vonage, the future of retail is conversational commerce. As more APAC consumers explore, accept, and use messaging apps, brand marketers continuously find more innovative ways to promote their products and services using this marketing technology.