Conversational Commerce: The Road to the Fully Digital Assistant and Its Impact on Retail

06.12.2018 Articles

For many years, the height of luxury in retail has been the idea of a personal shopper. However, these days the idea of a personal shopper is beginning to shift from Alexa, the classy, well dressed woman who has selected a personal rack of clothes for you to wear, to Alexa, Amazon’s in-home assistant.  

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” says Chris Messina in his Medium article on Conversational Commerce. Shoppers are now expecting more personalization and attention in their purchase processes. Leading the pack in providing shopping assistance for these conversational shoppers are Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant. 

While customers are spending less time in front of the products they’re actually purchasing, Alexa, for example, is instrumental in altering what products consumers end up with. As it stands right now, unless a user specifies a particular brand in their Alexa voice order or search, Alexa will pull the “amazon choice” product for the purchase. These products are selected based off of a specific Amazon algorithm that has been designed to anticipate what the consumer will want; an AI learning curve that personalizes the relevancy order of a search.  

In-home voice assistants are not the only technology out there to provide personalized shopping services. Many brands are also using chatbots on their websites and social media platforms to aid in personalized shopping in fun and creative ways. Whole Foods’ Facebook chatbot will recommend recipes based on food emojis, then provide the consumer with shopping lists straight from their website, all with a few taps of the keyboard. Absolut Vodka has taken the tailored customer service experience one step further by involving other brands as well in their chatbot initiative. As we mentioned in our Retail Frenemies article, sometimes partnering up with other brands can help. Rather than focusing on selling their vodka directly to their consumer, Absolut’s chatbot partnered with local bars and Lyft to provide their service. Their chatbot would offer free cocktails based on the user’s preference, show a location of where those consumers can purchase said cocktail, and then hook them up with a Lyft ride home.  

In an odd way, conversational commerce tools are putting personalization back in the forefront of the mind of American consumers and marketers alike. These AI tools are learning consumer trends to help to bring those preferences more quickly to the consumer. When a customer does enter a store, this desire for quick and personalized shopping doesn’t leave them. Stores that have been able to provide a more personalized and detailed shopping experience have flourished. It’s crucial that retailers in brick-and-mortar locations are able to keep up with this psychological trend.  

BDSmktg is here to ensure retailers and brands keep up, while also adapting to new technologies. While there can be no substitute for in-person solutions to close the “last three feet of the sale”, which is especially true with non-impulse purchase products such as tech, we’re evolving too, to meet these heightened consumer expectations. Our newest Digital team is here to ensure new and exciting marketing technology drives the results you want. From chatbots to purchases through Amazon, we have experts ready to activate a custom plan for you. Contact us today to learn more!