Conversational commerce refers to E-Commerce which is based on the exchange between companies and users. Conversation over the Internet, apps or social networks should ultimately result in a purchase. Intelligent speech management and artificial intelligence play an increasingly important role in conversational commerce.
When considering the phenomenon of conversational commerce, the development of the commercial Internet and social web have to be taken into account as well. While e-commerce is gradually evolving into mobile commerce, social networks are now a standard communication tool. Thus, people are now accustomed to communicating, buying or using services over the Internet. This is where conversational commerce comes into play. The term was defined by Chris Messina, one of the central developers at Uber. Previously, Dan Miller also spoke about the phenomenon in an article about the 2014 marketing trends. Messina defined conversational commerce in an article from 2016 as follows:
“Conversational Commerce pertains to utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.”
A year earlier Messina had already clarified the nature of conversational commerce. This form of e-commerce is primarily intended to provide an answer to the fact that people today do not want to spend a lot of time on online shopping or purchasing decisions: “Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”
Conversational commerce should therefore enable sales to take place via the Internet through a dialogue between people or in the form of a Human Computer Interaction. The focus here is on messengers and bots.
Today, users already have the opportunity to interact with companies in order to buy things on the Internet or to book services. By linking to apps, messaging, and social media, bots play an increasingly important role. This has led to the development of voice-controlled assistants, who can handle tasks for users. Examples of such assistants are:
Users sometimes do not have to visit a website themselves, but can book individual services directly via an app in a language-controlled manner. For example, it is now possible for users in the US to book a trip with the service provider Uber via the Facebook Messenger. The processing is handled by a Bot.
Conversational commerce offers companies the opportunity to enter into dialogue with customers without the need for additional staff. Through the widespread use of apps or voice controls, today’s users are often used to communicating with machines. The question is whether each company has to develop its own systems in order to keep up with conversational commerce or if they will be able to personalize applications of the large Internet companies such as Google, Facebook or Amazon in the future. Webmasters already have the possibility to integrate Google’s language search on their own website today.