The retail landscape continues to shift in recent years as advancements in technology enhance the online shopping experience. The latest trend? Conversational commerce.
Conversational commerce leverages human brand specialists, artificial intelligence chatbots and augmented reality (AR) to deliver a more simplified and personalized shopping experience for consumers through participating retailers’ online stores and social media platforms. This platform provides consumers with a seamless, on-demand shopping interface that allows them to engage with representatives, both live and virtual, to have their questions answered, preview products, garments and accessories in true 3D and complete the transaction all in one application.
How Does Conversational Commerce Augment The Online Shopping Experience?
When shoppers are perusing a retailer’s online store or app, a prompt will appear suggesting they connect with a personal shopper to help with their search and, hopefully, guide them to a purchase. If the shopper chooses to open the chat, they will be taken to a native messaging application where an AI-powered bot, capable of providing information on features such as size, color and price, will be ready to assist with product-related questions.
AI-powered chatbots such as these have become a popular feature in e-Commerce, with 71% of people reporting that they use chatbots to solve their problem fast when faced with a shopping or customer service challenge. Further, 53% of people said they are more likely to shop at an online store that they can engage with via message.
On the flip side, some shoppers are still wary of relying on “robots” to help them in their quest for the right item. A LivePerson survey found that 43% of people prefer to communicate with a human first. Taking this data into consideration, in the conversational commerce model, if the chatbot is faced with a more open-ended or subjective question, a real person will swap in to provide more personal recommendations.
If, during the exchange, the shopper is interested in further exploring a product, there’s the ability to ‘place’ or ‘try on’ the object using AR capabilities, which enable viewing in true, scalable 3D. This allows customers to gauge whether an accessory, article of clothing or piece of furniture matches with a certain outfit or décor and meets their expectations, all without setting foot in a store or dressing room! AI-powered sentiment analysis technology will monitor the customer’s mood and reaction to the item he or she is testing out, both through their chat messages and their expression, if they ‘try on’ an accessory using AR.
With this real-time data in hand, chatbots and human sales associates can provide the shopper with relevant suggestions. For instance, prompting them to “Add to Cart” if they seem satisfied, or offering an alternate product if they don’t.
Lastly, once the shopper has found an item they are ready to purchase, they can revisit the messaging application to share which item they are interested in purchasing, and can conveniently complete the purchase within the conversation using their preferred form of mobile payment, such as Venmo, PayPal or Apple Pay.
How Will This Change The Retail Industry?
Conversational commerce provides shoppers with all the benefits of being in-store, but in the comfort of their own home. Through the combination of augmented reality, intelligent chat platforms and sentiment analysis, conversational commerce is positioned to drastically change the retail landscape forever.
The use of both natural language and computer vision analysis provides consumers with access to a hyper-tailored, sentiment analysis-driven experience that draws on their individual needs and tastes. These features, coupled with the ability to create an augmented reality, true 3D view and one-touch purchase transaction, enables a simple and seamless online shopping experience for consumers — one that can be experienced natively and without jumping around between various applications and web sites.
With these updated capabilities, retailers will be able to convert more shoppers into buyers, reduce returns and build brand loyalty by measuring customer responses to products in real time. What’s more, retailers will have access to valuable data through sentiment analysis and directly from consumers’ conversations with chatbots and virtual salespeople, which will further aid in their ability to influence shopping behavior and target marketing efforts.
As shoppers continue to show a strong preference for e-Commerce purchases over visiting brick-and-mortar stores, it’s clear that online shopping experiences that mirror the in-store process as closely as possible are the future of the retail industry. Expect conversational commerce to be adopted by more and more retailers, especially as the various technology components required continue to evolve. This means that consumer experience and benefits to the retailer will only continue to improve for those who implement this model. Conversational commerce will continue to be a big player in the inevitable transformation of the retail landscape.
Paul Duffy is the President of NexTech AR Solutions and creator of the HumaGram™. An accomplished leader in the domains of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, Duffy is a serial entrepreneur with 27 years of experience successfully starting, expanding, diversifying and selling technology companies.