The ecommerce industry has been rapidly growing over the last few years. What started out as a need to be online to succeed, turned into a competition on who could entice consumers with the biggest of discounts. But today, neither the presence of an online store nor the biggest of discounts appeal to the modern consumer. According to statistics, about 80% of consumers are actually willing to interact with and pay more for getting a better experience. That’s where conversational commerce comes in.
And with the WhatsApp Business API becoming available to businesses of all scales, conversational commerce is becoming the new norm.
In this guide, we’re going to talk all about what is conversational commerce, the benefits of conversational commerce, the role of WhatsApp in conversational commerce and how you can get started.
What is conversational commerce?
Conversational commerce, also commonly referred to as conversational marketing, chat commerce and messenger marketing, essentially taps in the logic behind human to human marketing that has existed for decades across industries in one form or another. It refers to the tactic of using conversations over chat apps and platforms as a means to drive consumers towards making a purchase from the business.
How does conversational commerce work?
Conversational commerce works on the logic of using conversations to guide a consumer through each stage of the buyer journey with the brand. This includes all the 5 stages of a typical customer journey map - awareness, consideration, decision, retention and advocacy. Let’s take a look at each briefly:
- Awareness: At this stage, consumers are still in their discovery mode. They are either exploring brands to fulfill a pressing need or are simply window shopping to see what’s new in the market and can come handy. With conversational commerce, you can tap into this stage of the buyer journey to capture their interest and intent, and guide them on a path to exploring the right set of products and services they’re more likely to convert on.
- Consideration: At this point, the consumer knows what they are looking for, have a need at hand and are exploring different products that can fulfill the same. This includes also evaluating the product reviews, pricing, alternatives, and similar parameters. With conversational commerce, you can talk to them about the key aspects that influence their decision, feeding the right content and information at the right time.
- Decision: This is the stage in the buyer journey where the consumer has evaluated the options at hand and is now ready to make a purchase decision. This is where they need the final nudge in the form of a discount or offering more social proof, and with conversational commerce, you can offer both in a timely manner, and even close the purchase on chat itself.
- Retention: After a consumer has made the purchase, it becomes difficult for businesses to keep customers engaged, often leading to churn and low repeat sales. With conversational commerce, you can continually stay in touch with customers through personalized chats, with an assurity that your message does get read. You can also use conversational channels to send product recommendations to drive more purchases.
- Advocacy: At this stage, you are aware that a consumer sees the value of purchasing from your brand. This is where you can reach out to them on a conversational commerce platform, seeking their feedback, thanking them for their trust and nudging them to join your loyalty or referral programs.
What are the benefits of conversational commerce?
While conversational commerce is still a fairly new strategy for online businesses, there are some clear benefits of it that can be experienced almost instantly. Here are some of them:
- Establishes a connection with consumers: Owing to its natural flowing nature, conversations lead to better understanding of one another. The same holds true for businesses and consumers, leading to better connections from the get-go of their relationships. Statistics have shown that 90% of consumers are more likely to purchase from businesses they love.
- Shortens the sales cycle: Conversations flow rapidly, addressing one thing after another almost instantly. This helps lead a consumer from the stage of awareness to purchase and advocacy in no time, reducing the sales cycle drastically. Statistics have found that 71% of consumers said they would spend more with a brand that gives them an option to message instead of call.
- Reduces support and service queries: Online businesses often struggle to address consumer queries and concerns as the business grows. From WISMO queries to questions about products, policies and more, support tickets can quickly increase and become overwhelming. With conversational commerce, businesses can use chatbots and automations to address repetitive questions. Studies have also found that 47% of consumers are open to buying items using a chatbot as long as it is contextual and can address their purchase concerns.
- Improves customer engagement and experience: Conversational commerce strategies include leveraging technology such as chatbots to help address consumer questions more proactively. This helps keep their interest hooked, boosting their engagement rate with the brand and their overall experience of shopping with the brand.
- Better personalization: Conversational commerce also focuses on 1:1 communication, which essentially means understanding individual consumer interests and purchase preferences. As per statistics, 59% of consumers say personalization is important for them while making a purchase decision.
How does WhatsApp enable conversational commerce?
Conversational commerce leverages the power and capabilities of chat platforms and apps that consumers are actively making use of. Over a period of time, there are a number of chat apps that have entered the ecosystem - Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Telegram, Kik, WhatsApp and others.
But according to global statistics, WhatsApp has been one of the fastest growing messaging platforms owing to its ease of use. With over 2 billion users (and increasing), it is clear that WhatsApp is a widely adopted messaging platform that has enticed users from all demographics (age, gender, location and other parameters).
These numbers are what has brought WhatsApp into the limelight as conversational commerce becomes important for businesses to implement. This is not to say that the other channels are not promising platforms for conversational commerce; but owing to its ease of use, scalability and affordability, WhatsApp has become a leading choice for ecommerce businesses.
Now that you know why WhatsApp has become a leading channel for businesses to implement conversational commerce on, let’s take a look at how you can get started.
How to get started with conversational commerce on WhatsApp?
Since both conversational commerce and the WhatsApp Business API capabilities are fairly new to ecommerce businesses, we recommend following the steps below to ensure you’re making the most of this tactic to grow your business.
1. Analyze your business needs
The very first step to implementing conversational commerce for your business is to identify the gaps in the communication between you and the consumers. The idea is to see where consumers tend to drop-off before making a purchase, where they seek more information to make a decision and how effectively have you been able to offer the same. Then, look into the capabilities of the WhatsApp Business API and automations to see how you can plug the same.
2. Define your target audience
Take a look at the consumers who tend to reach out to you the most for updates or for shopping assistance. Try to pull in as much data as possible about them - age, gender, location, purchase power, purchase preference, purchase patterns, average order values and so on. Segment your audience on the basis of this data to know who you’d be targeting the most with conversational commerce.
3. Identify your business goals and objectives
Next, see how you want to target the customer segments you have created above. This could include things like wanting to improve product discovery, reduce cart abandonment, improve customer engagement, boost customer loyalty, drive more mobile purchases and so on. The more defined your goals and objectives are, the better you’re able to strategize your availability of conversational commerce.
4. Choose a WhatsApp Business API solution provider
If you have a WhatsApp Business account, you probably know of the basic features it has to offer. From being able to set up a profile, catalog and schedule messages, the app has a lot to offer to small businesses. But to fully implement conversational commerce, you need more than just running WhatsApp broadcasts - this is where the WhatsApp Business API comes in.
To make things simpler, opt for a WhatsApp Business API to get started. This will save you from the vast learning curve and coding, and get you started with automations in less than a week. For instance, QuickReply.ai is one of the best WhatsApp Business marketing apps used by Shopify and Shopify Plus brands to leverage the capabilities of the WhatsApp Business API to drive more sales for their business.
5. Integrate with your online store
Once you have selected your WhatsApp Business API solution provider, we recommend integrating it with your online store CMS. This is to ensure that the data flow between the messaging platform and your online store, becomes seamless. Ideally, a good solution provider offers a one-click integration which is no-code and makes it easy to get started with using the WhatsApp Business API.
6. Set up key WhatsApp automations
When you have a WhatsApp Business API solution provider in place and have integrated it with your online store, we recommend setting up a few workflows to communicate proactively with online shoppers before, during and after the purchase. Some of the key WhatsApp automations we recommend setting up to cater to the entire customer journey include the following:
- Welcome message automation
- WhatsApp broadcast messages
- Abandoned cart recovery campaign
- Customer win-back messages
- Order alerts and shipping notifications
- Customer support automation
- COD to prepaid automation
You can also build custom workflows and automations on WhatsApp with the help of QuickReply.ai. The WhatsApp marketing app leverages the official WhatsApp Business API and comes with 40+ ecommerce chatbot workflows.
7. Define your hand-off moment
It is important to note that just as in a brick and mortar store, while some consumers can find their way to making a purchase on their own; others may require some assistance that goes beyond showing them the right sizes of the product. This is where human conversations are required to understand their preferences and be able to guide them to other products as well. That’s why apart from setting up the WhatsApp chatbots and automations, we do recommend defining when a bot should notify your live agents.
At the hand-off moment, the WhatsApp Business API solution provider should notify your team in the Shared Inbox to tackle the conversation. Alternatively, you can set up IVR deflection as well to tackle the same. The idea is to be available to the consumer on the messaging platform to drive them towards making a purchase.
8. Leverage WhatsApp Business API features
Before you get started with promoting your WhatsApp Business account, ensure you are educated about all of the platform’s features. From the different types of message formats you can set up to the automations available, it is important you know about them all and have their use cases clearly understood. This will help you put them to good use as you start turning WhatsApp into a revenue-generating channel for your business.
- What are interactive messages and how to use them
- Learn all about WhatsApp chatbots
- Types of messages you should be sending customers on WhatsApp
- How to format your WhatsApp messages for readability
8. Run your marketing and advertising campaigns
If you’re starting to sell on WhatsApp to get the most of conversational commerce, you’re going to have to promote the channel proactively. It requires you to drive your target audience to the messaging platform; which essentially means nudging them to start a conversation with you on the WhatsApp Business account. Here are a few resources to help you with the same:
- How to build a huge WhatsApp list for your ecommerce business
- How to use QR codes to get WhatsApp opt ins
- How to add WhatsApp links to Instagram bio and Instagram Story
- How to run Click-to-WhatsApp ads
- Step by step guide to set up WhatsApp marketing campaigns
9. Measure and optimize
Lastly, don’t forget to take a look at the performance metrics of how conversational commerce is adding value to your business growth. Take note of how each automation helps drive a consumer from awareness to purchase and advocacy. This requires looking into the automations triggered, the open and click through rate on messages, response rate on campaigns, and how consumers move from one stage to another in the buyer cycle, the average sales cycle length, your retention rate and repeat sales.
The more attention you pay to WhatsApp Business analytics and metrics, the better you can optimize your conversational commerce strategy to get more sales from WhatsApp.
Should you get started with conversational commerce?
Based on DTC growth and studies conducted by ecommerce experts, conversational commerce is here to stay. While the channels of communication and connecting with consumers might change over time, conversations will become a key part of marketing, sales and support functions of a business. And at the moment, it’s WhatsApp that is enabling it all with their WhatsApp Business API.
WhatsApp is opening new doors for businesses to tap into a vast audience and drive consumers to making purchases in a repeated manner.
Ready to boost your business with conversational commerce?
If you have a Shopify store, you can install the QuickReply.ai WhatsApp marketing to get started.