The Conversational Commerce Trends Shaping Ecommerce (infographic)

“Hey Google, play ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on Spotify”.

Everyone remembers the first time they encountered voice search: the sense of wonder and amazement at the fluidity of communication between man and machine. But unlike a fad, designed to flare before fizzling out, voice search has instead gone from strength to strength.

Because as we head into 2022, voice search isn’t just for playing songs, or asking Google to define complicated words. Led by technology such as live messaging tools and AI (artificial intelligence)-powered chatbots, the power of voice is becoming increasingly instrumental in how we shop.

Here, of course, is where conversational commerce comes in. Essentially, this is the junction at which messaging services meet (and, ideally, improve) the sales process – so it’s something all ecommerce businesses need to get familiar with.

Below, we’ll run you through the three key conversational commerce trends shaping ecommerce, and bring you up to date with what the latest industry data and research suggests. We’ve even included a few pointers at the end to help get you started optimizing your own ecommerce site for a conversational commerce coup – so let’s get going!

Voice Search

“Hey Alexa, what’s voice search?”

Voice search refers to the act of searching for goods and services online not by typing your request into Google, but speaking it. If you’ve ever asked your iPhone’s ‘Siri’ to look something up for you – or plumbed your Amazon Echo, Google Nest, or Apple HomePod to run a Bing search – then you’ve used voice search.

Voice search is powered by little pieces of tech called ‘virtual assistants’ (such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant), These days, you can find voice assistant-compatible technology in just about everything: from smartphones and tablets to smart watches and speakers.

Of course, that ubiquity means voice search is in a prime position to influence ecommerce – and the numbers demonstrate just how powerful voice search is continuing to prove.

Voice assistant interaction is set to increase by a whopping 113% come 2024, with the amount of voice-equipped devices poised to reach over 8.4 billion. What’s more, over half (55%) of households are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022 – with more than a third (34%) of those who don’t yet own a speaker expressing a desire to buy one.

So when will this conversational commerce trend start to shape ecommerce? The answer is that it already is. One Bing report suggests that the lion’s share of voice assistant usage is related to purchasing (or researching) a product or service. What’s more, almost one in three (31%) Gen Z customers (18-24) – and one in four shoppers generally – have indicated that they’ll be using a voice assistant for their holiday (and Black Friday!) shopping this year.

With voice search technology already on the rise in the ecommerce sector – and figures and usage only projected to keep on growing – this is one conversational commerce trend that’s here to stay.

Live Chat

Of course – unlike most conversations in real life – conversational commerce doesn’t always involve using your voice. With 91% of consumers around the globe demanding real-time assistance, live chat has become an increasingly prominent influence in the world of ecommerce.

After all, if two things matter to ecommerce business owners, it’s these: conversion rates and customer satisfaction. And the data is conclusive regarding the impact of live chat features on both.

One recent study proved that live chat can not only improve your conversion rate by a massive 82%, but also that even just one reply is sufficient to boost the likelihood that a customer will convert by 50%.

When it comes to keeping customers happy, statistics suggest that live chat sees the highest user satisfaction ratings of all the communication channels. Non-conversational tools such as snail mail (50%), social media (48%), and SMS (41%) saw much more lackluster levels of customer engagement and satisfaction.

Of course, this data won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s experienced the speed, efficiency, and convenience of live chat firsthand. You can open up a dialogue window with a click via a company’s website, and have a conversation going within moments. For phone-phobic Gen Z, social media-reticent Gen X, and everyone in between, live chat is emerging as the most effective way of getting in touch with a business.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chat

AI chat is an emerging technology that utilizes chatbots powered by artificial intelligence to respond to customer queries. Instead of conversing online with a real person (as is the case with regular live chat), you’ll instead be dealing with ‘robots’.

These robots have been programmed to ‘learn’ how to respond to specific inquiries and questions based on preset rules and historic patterns.

But AI chat isn’t simply about simulating the ‘conversational’ nature of a live chat tool – or saving money on your staff costs. For ecommerce sites, at least, AI chat opens up a wealth of new and exciting opportunities regarding how consumers navigate a website, and proceed through the buying journey.
AI chat functions can, for instance, direct a user to specific products or support articles, or provide an interactive quiz to narrow down a user’s needs and preferences. They don’t have to be used in isolation, either – you can use an AI chat to funnel your customers to the right service or part of your website, before introducing them to a live chat feature (powered by a ‘real person’) to walk them through the rest of their purchase process.

Don’t just take our word for it, though – the data speaks for itself.

Recently, huge names such as Starbucks, LinkedIn, eBay, and British Airways have invested massively in AI chat bots, accounting at least in part for the technology’s meteoric 400% growth since 2017.

In the US alone, the percentage of customers who have daily interactions with AI has risen by almost 40% between 2018 and 2020. You’d better watch this space, too – by 2025, the chatbot market share (worth $17.7 billion in 2019) is expected to hit a mind-boggling $102 billion.

Ecommerce store owners would also do well to understand the increasing extent to which AI chatbot progress is taking shape along national lines.

AI uptake in Sweden, for instance, has been staggering. Seven in 10 Swedes depend on AI every day, while the mega-markets of Brazil, the US, and Australia have a similarly heavy reliance on the technology. Barring the UK and the Netherlands, several European countries – France, Italy, and Spain, for instance – have been a little slower to adopt it.
Demographics have also played a role in the development and spread of AI as it relates to conversational commerce. In a 2020 poll, almost half of the 31-40 age group preferred AI-only interactions for research and browsing. When it came to actually making a purchase, around a third (29%) of this same group stated a preference for AI-only interactions.

But the biggest adopters of AI chat technology are the folks in the 26-35 demographic. This niche forms 63% of all users – certainly food for thought for any business targeting its products or services at that age group!

Summarizing the Conversational Commerce Trends Shaping Ecommerce

Whether it’s online, over the phone, or face to face, conversation is a key element of being human. It’s how we communicate, how we socialize, and how we live – so it comes as little surprise that it’s playing an increasing role in how we buy, too.

Virtual assistants allow us to search and shop by saying a few words. Live chat patches us through to a support assistant instantly, and lets us converse with a business in real time. And – in the most advanced, forward-thinking piece of conversational commerce innovation – AI-powered chatbots are changing how we interact with companies and choose between different products and services.

By now, you should have a good idea not only of what the conversational commerce trends shaping eCommerce are, but also the scope of the statistics driving them – and who they’re affecting most. But what’s next?

Because, let’s face it – all this is worth nothing unless you start implementing conversational commerce processes and practices into your own ecommerce website. These include:

Adding schema markup to your website. This helps Google recognize your data’s format, and makes it easy for voice assistants to pick out answers to user questions from within your copy

Prioritizing the mobile responsiveness of your site. This smooths the experience for the 27% of people using voice search on their mobile devices

Integrating ‘long tail’ keywords into your ecommerce site’s copy. This’ll help you target more niche voice queries, and tap into a lucrative market of high-intent consumers

Ensuring that your ecommerce site contains lots of regional indicators. After all, 58% of customers utilize voice search to find local businesses – so you want to make sure that yours is among the top results!

But above all, the trick to conversational commerce success is keeping your ecommerce site’s copy, well...conversational. The more you can write in a way that mirrors how people actually talk, the better optimized it will be for when they make a voice search.

They say “money talks”. But the better your business gets at talking to your customers – and enabling them to talk to you – the more money you’ll make. So start talking!

Read next: Twitter’s Holiday Shopping Trends Could Boost Your Next Marketing Campaign
Previous Post Next Post