I was recently speaking with a senior executive from a convenience store chain who told me that his company had an epiphany a few months after COVID-19 took hold in the U.S.: “We realized that our customers’ definition of ‘convenience’ had changed. So we had to change to meet that new set of expectations.”
Customers want personalized, convenient shopping experiences. In fact, according to Forrester, customers are 2.4 times more likely to stay loyal to brands that deliver a great experience. Brands and retailers need to rethink what it means to provide that level of service and convenience now that expectations have changed.
So how can brands give customers support in a way that fulfills their need for instant gratification, and also feels personal and tailored to them? That’s where the magic of conversational commerce comes into play.
By enabling customers to message in-store associates while they shop online, conversational commerce gives customers an enhanced customer service experience and the confidence they need to buy online. With conversational commerce solutions, brands can unlock a seamless omnichannel experience, win lasting customer loyalty and drive revenue.
Connect Your In-Store and Digital Experiences with Conversational Commerce
Modern consumers live on their mobile devices. So the best way to reach them is where they already are. And that doesn’t just mean being reachable by voice. In fact, according to Facebook, 58% of consumers are more confident messaging a business than calling them. And more than 55% say they feel more personally connected to a brand when they’re offered the ability to message them. If you want to enhance your customer experience and increase customer loyalty, you need to offer consumers the option to connect via their preferred method of communication.
Customer service is an integral part of the omnichannel experience equation that should not be forgotten or neglected. With conversational commerce, you can take your customer service to the next level by connecting your in-store experience with the digital experience so customers have the same seamless interactions in either channel.
Conversational commerce also enables a more convenient and personalized approach to shopping. By offering customers instant access to nearby store associates, not distant call center employees, consumers can feel more in touch with their favorite brands, leading to increased loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Implementing Conversational Commerce
Introducing conversational commerce to your brand is easier than it seems — and you probably already have many of the components in place.
There’s no need to hire specialist employees for conversational commerce. If your brand has brick-and-mortar stores, you have all the staff you need; you just have to start using them in a new way. In-store employees experience downtime, and you can maximize that downtime by having them connect with and respond to inquiring customers.
You can also implement messaging solutions built on platforms like WhatsApp that enable a customer to initiate a conversation with your brand, and their message will immediately be sent to their local store. When an in-store employee receives the message, they can then interact with the customer in any way the customer needs. In-store associates can check if an item is in stock, send photos or videos of the product and instantly answer questions.
With conversational commerce solutions, you can digitally bring the ease and comfort of the in-store experience to your customers. Instead of waiting hours or days to get their questions answered or having stilted conversations with a chatbot that doesn’t fully understand their request, customers can connect with a real in-store associate.
Instacart is a great example of conversational commerce in action. With Instacart, customers can message their shopper while they’re in the grocery store. The Instacart shopper provides the customer with real-time updates, so if an item the customer selected is out of stock, the shopper can recommend a replacement item right away. For customers who want the personalized touch of in-store shopping but don’t actually want to be in the store, conversational commerce is a great way to give them an enhanced customer service experience.
A Personalized Shopping Experience
High-quality customer service unlocks customer loyalty, so don’t leave customers on hold or their messages unread in your Instagram direct messages. With conversational commerce, you can give consumers a personalized experience — both in stores and online — and access to real, in-store associates, not just a chatbot.
Jared Blank is the Chief Marketing Officer at VTEX. He has more than 15 years of experience in the B2B and B2C sectors, including ecommerce management, omnichannel implementation and online strategy. Prior to joining the VTEX team, Blank worked with Tommy Hilfiger for nearly nine years — most recently having been its VP of Ecommerce — as well as Bluecore, Doodle and Deloitte, providing him with a strong foundation of technology and retail experience.