Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

The future of Ecommerce is conversational

by Anup Khera, VP and GM of International at Attentive 

Nowadays, consumers shop differently. More online, more multi-channel, with more demands from the brands they interact with. And this shift is only going to become more pointed as prices rise, and consumers find themselves needing to prioritize spending.  

At the same time, customers have heightened expectations for interactive experiences, and brands are having to deal with the dual challenge of email and ads no longer cutting through.  

While brands have seen and acknowledged this shift, many are still working out the most effective ways to attract and maintain their customers’ attention through personalized experiences. If personalization, support and engagement are not delivered and retained, this will result in a loss of sales for some brands.  

That said, be it through ads, emails or promotions, Ecommerce interactions are very much still one-way with companies talking at their customers. Brands are using all the data points they have, from browsing behaviors or purchasing behavior, to drive in-the-moment experiences and 360-degree view of customers, but it still only goes in one direction with no ability for the customer to reply back in a conversation.  

The solution to this is described as ‘conversational commerce’ – commerce done via direct ‘conversation’. Currently, this method is being overlooked by many brands in the UK, despite the fact this is a smartphone-first market. In fact, according to eMarketer figures from 2021, over 20% of UK retail sales originate via mobile, and soon, every B2C brand will be expected to communicate with their customers via text message.  

Our own research shows that three in four consumers who have actively subscribed to a brand’s text messaging programme, have made a purchase from text in the last month. Consumers are spending 31% more when they are able to text a brand and get an immediate response. For brands, this is resulting in conversion rates up to two and a half times higher than non-conversational messages. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters are subscribed to five or more brands; and 97% of UK consumers want to hear from brands they have subscribed to at least once a week via text message. The need for such service is obviously there.  

Of course, as consumers spend more time shopping on mobile devices, they are increasingly demanding speed, convenience, ease, but also – importantly – security. So it is critical that these experiences are designed with privacy compliance in mind and include tailored opt-in flows and straightforward opt-out mechanisms to meet evolving requirements. 

Using conversational commerce, and SMS in particular, allows brands to strengthen relationships with their consumers through two-way, personalized, secure communication in real-time. With text-to-buy technology, consumers will be able to seamlessly text a brand to say they want to buy a certain product, payment is taken and the product is shipped. It is a frictionless experience that aligns exactly to what consumers want today – speed and communication on their preferred devices and channels. Added to that, consumers can text a brand for insights or information and receive an instant response. It is also helping reduce customer service costs by between 10% and 50%.  

There are already great examples of brands using conversational commerce to drive better engagement and sales with their customers in the UK. These include HYPE, Moda in Pelle, Astrid & Miyu, Killstar and FLOWERBX – helping them deliver impactful mobile commerce experiences. These brands are driving up to 30% more online revenue and providing relevant, personalized, and localized communications to better engage their customers.  

It is clear that creating a more immediate, two-way conversation is the only way a brand will be able to give customers the experience they crave, while securely supporting them through the buying experience.  

Related articles