With the rise of Conversational Commerce being a hot topic in the media lately, Gregory Gazagne, Executive Vice President for EMEA, Criteo, looks at what voice-driven, technology will mean for retailers.
It’s hard to believe that, roughly a decade ago, social media was dismissed as no more than a budding trend. Fast forward to 2017, and social media has become not only a key part of modern lifestyle, but a platform to advise or facilitate customers on purchase decisions.
Ten years ago, uploading a status on Facebook was at the cutting edge of technology, now social and messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Skype allow people to communicate to each other instantaneously, across the world.
Social media keeps evolving but, so does the technology it operates on. In 2007, the first model of a basic IPhone was just developed, but now the most-popular technology to emerge from Silicon Valley is voice-driven smart technologies, such as the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. A technology much more sophisticated than the original IPhone.
Consumers love new technologies and, history has shown successful new technologies are soon integrated in to the everyday modern lifestyle. Retailers can’t afford to discount these emerging technologies. The innovation of AR, VR, and the growing use of messaging platforms and natural-language interfaces is presenting a fresh opportunity for retailers to engage with their customers, through much more sophisticated and intelligent technologies.
But what does the specific rise in so messaging platforms, as well as voice-driven, technology mean for retailers? Well, it presents retailers with a new channel of opportunity, called Conversational Commerce.
This channel of engagement is becoming an increasingly popular saying amongst retailers, first coined in 2015 by Uber’s Chris Messina, conversational commerce is commerce through chat, messaging platforms and voice-driven interaction. The concept allows consumers to chat directly engage with company representatives, delivering a truly personalised and tailored experience.
Conversational Commerce innovations are enabled and driven by maturing smart machine technologies that take advantage of the Nexus of Forces. These include natural-language processing for which error rates are now lower, natural-language question answering and deep neural networks trained on vast amounts of real-world data.
Most chatbots are domain-specific and are singular to one company, such as Facebook Messenger. This first-generation of chat-bots do not have capabilities to deal with input from inside the domain of which they were built. With consumer demands fast changing together with the evolvement of technology, chatbots must be constant between commerce points with a customer to deliver a truly personal experience.
Today, more generic conversational bots that integrate features in specific implementations are on their way. However, are soon likely to begin seeing interaction and handovers between bots of different specialities, providing not just a fresh method of engagement for but a new sales opportunity for retailers in both the B2C and B2B scenarios.
However, voice-driven scenarios, challenges remain for digital commerce and, for retailers to truly cater to the fast-changing demands of consumers these challenges must be conquered. By using a multimodal approach and, switching to a visual interface when possible, it will help conquer this challenge. In simpler scenarios, such as where the product is already known or where a linear or simple branching conversation is appropriate to enable a transaction conversational interfaces will rapidly gain ground.
For retailers to interact with both existing and new sets of customers it is undeniable that they must place themselves at the forefront of technology. Consumers are, and forever will be, the ones in the driving seat. Retailers must cater to their fast-changing demands in-order to reach new customers, retain loyalty and drive further sales.
As we continue to not know what technologies will become an integral part of modern-day society yet, retailers must make the upmost effort to embrace all new and emerging technologies. This means moving with the times, responding to the demands and technologies of 2017, and putting channels like conversational commerce on the frontline of their marketing strategy, so the customer is easily able to engage with them through their platform of choice.