Conversational Commerce: The New Way To Buy

Conversational Commerce

Messaging apps are now a major communication channel, with people today spending more time there than chatting on public-facing social networks. Increasingly, forward-looking brands are following their customers into these platforms and engaging them in conversation there. This trend has been called “Conversational Commerce” and it is hotly tipped to be the next revolution in consumer convenience. Consumers can engage with brands and make purchases without ever leaving their preferred messaging app, where they are already talking to friends and family.
The opportunity is to link your brand’s offering to the social activity of your consumer’s private network. For example, in China during the New Year, it’s a tradition to give money in red envelopes as gifts. WeChat, the messaging app that dominates the country, allows users to send virtual red envelopes to friends and family, and the popularity of that feature is growing exponentially. During Chinese New Year in 2016, eight billion red envelopes were sent using WeChat. In 2017, 46 billion were sent. The scale of those numbers is particular to China, but this is an example of a simple and highly effective implementation of Conversational Commerce.

One indication of how receptive consumers might be to Conversational Commerce is their use of online web chat with businesses when browsing online. About 70 percent of Chinese consumers have used online web chat services in the past year. China significantly over-indexes here, as it does on other Conversational Commerce questions, owing in part to the dominance of WeChat in China.

Use is lower in Western countries, but it has been rising quickly. In Sweden and Germany, there is not much difference in web chatting activity between lottery players and the national averages, but in the U.K. lottery players are seven percent more likely to have used web chat with a business. In the U.S., weekly lottery players are 20 percent more likely to have used web chat services and 12 percent more likely to be encouraged to purchase because of web chat. Generally the case even for non-lottery players, web chat services encouraging consumers to purchase indicates a receptiveness and responsiveness to personalized messaging from a brand -- an emerging area where lotteries might reach players.

Chatting with businesses and performing entire transactions within messaging apps — via branded Artificial Intelligence chatbots — is a next logical step. Consumers don’t have to leave the apps they’re already using, and it feels natural.

MasterCard is already on this, having announced partnerships with three major brands to enable seamless purchasing and ordering through Facebook Messenger. Their partnership with Subway enables consumers to customize their order and select a store location for collection, and customers of The Cheesecake Factory can purchase restaurant gift cards within Facebook Messenger.

Bookmaker Paddy Power has been in the news recently with the launch of their new Facebook Messenger chatbot that allows punters to place bets directly through the instant messaging app.

With nearly 17 percent of the world’s population active on Facebook every day, and 25 percent active every month, this quick, easy, and conversational transaction that suits impulse purchasing could be a major opportunity within the lottery industry to reach and engage with Millennials and Generation Y.

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