• What is conversational commerce?

What Is Conversational Commerce?

Conversation is the future of ecommerce. Due to a range of technological advances and shifts in consumer behaviours, brands are increasingly able to engage with their customers on the path to purchase.

But what exactly is conversational commerce? And can it exist beyond the boundaries of messaging apps? This guide will help retailers understand and take advantage of one of the biggest trends in ecommerce for 2022.

A definition:

Conversational commerce is a form of ecommerce in which the brand and consumer are engaged in a dialogue. Uber’s Chris Messina coined the term in 2015 and it refers to personalised, one-to-one communications with customers in an ecommerce setting.

This is a natural development when placed in its broader context.

As The Economist reports,

Messaging on Instagram, Facebook’s photo-sharing app, and on Messenger rose by 40% [in 2020]. Four-fifths of mobile-device time is now spent on chat apps.

There is a strong argument that chat apps are essentially the homepage for most smartphones.

In truth, conversational commerce sits at the nexus of numerous emerging technologies, including:

  • Chatbots
  • Digital assistants
  • Natural language processing
  • Multimodal search
  • Headless commerce

These all create the foundation for more interactive web experiences.

Bringing an improved customer experience to online retail

As consumers grow accustomed to shopping on their smartphones, there are still areas for retailers to improve in the ecommerce experience when compared to shopping in the “real” world.

Consider the shopping experience in a luxury retail store.

An effective sales assistant will be there to guide the shopper based on the information she wishes to provide. The sales assistant may also remember the shopper from her past visits to the store and use this information to recommend suitable products. The shopper can interact as much or as little as she likes, knowing the sales assistant is there to provide advice as needed.

Now consider the ecommerce shopping experience.

Most retailers greet their customers with a screen like the one below. It is then up to the customer to define their own journey, using text search and filters.

As covered in Cadeera’s guide to search abandonment, this approach creates a collective missed opportunity totalling $300 billion for retailers.

Conversational commerce typically refers to shopping within chat apps, as in the example below. The chatbot functions as a digital personal shopper, reaching into the retailer’s inventory to select a few items for the consumer. The consumer can then provide feedback to refine the selections further.



However, these same principles should apply to ecommerce websites. By engaging the user, brands can create valuable zero-party and first-party data, while also delivering accurate results through multimodal search.

Examples of conversational commerce

Tide laundry detergent has added a conversational layer to its ecommerce experience. When users visit the Tide app, they can specify their preferred type of detergent and their current needs. The app can then personalise the consumer’s results and provide an accurate product recommendation.

This may not seem the most natural product category for conversational commerce, but it does demonstrate just how widely this strategy can be deployed. For any brand that offers multiple products on a static ecommerce website, conversational commerce adds interactivity and valuable consumer preference data.

Websites also have a natural advantage over social networks, as they already have integrated payment systems and inventory management.

For inspiration, western brands should look to the Chinese mega-app, WeChat. Brands can launch a WeChat service and sell using conversational commerce across a full range of categories. For example, private jet company VistaJet developed an instant messenger service on WeChat to provide customer recommendations.

wechat conversational commerce

VistaJet noted that customers were already on WeChat and they are accustomed to texting through the app, so it was natural to start selling in this medium.

How Cadeera can help retailers seize this opportunity

The future lies in integrating a conversational layer in all aspects of ecommerce, as part of an omnichannel strategy. Cadeera uses computer vision and natural language processing to bring this experience to a retailer’s owned digital properties. This reduces the reliance on big tech platforms and gives the retailer full control over their end-to-end ecommerce customer journey.

Get in touch to arrange a demo with Cadeera today.


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