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Why conversational commerce is a must-have after this holiday season

If early 2019 holiday results are any indication, the time is fast approaching when mobile will dominate the peak season online. To prepare for that shift, retailers must retool mobile offerings for two-way conversational commerce.

For this year’s Black Friday, mobile accounted for 39% of online sales, and on CyberMonday, mobile revenues jumped 46% year over year, claiming a third of the online total, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Thanks to the engine of mobile growth, online commerce overall has so far driven standout revenues for the season, with overall eCommerce sales jumping more than 19% year over year,  compared with the 4.2% holiday growth forecast for the retail industry as a whole. 

The growth in mobile sales suggests sellers’ efforts to retool online offerings for smaller screens are paying off off. But to stay ahead of the game, they’ll need to harness technologies that help engage shoppers directly, one-to-one, via the new medium of conversational commerce. That’s because:

  • Mobile shoppers want better ways to find what they need fast. As impressive as the holiday mobile commerce revenue numbers are, they are much lower than mobile’s share of traffic. The hesitation between browsing and buying is due to everything from poor navigation to miniscule product imagery to concerns about mobile payment security, comScore found. One-to-one guidance can help overcome these hurdles.
  • Visibility in mobile search and social media is increasingly expensive. Top organic placement is harder than ever to achieve on both search and social -- and as paid advertising catches up to consumer behavior, winning key placements is becoming an expensive proposition. Conversational commerce via live chat and bots can circumvent these traditional feeds to give brands new visibility.
  • One-to-one messaging cuts through the clutter. Open and response rates for direct message formats dwarf email, making SMS, live chat, and social messaging extremely effective ways to engage shoppers via mobile. Especially during the holidays, when consumers are inundated with offers, conversational interactions can help brands stand out.

With these significant incentives in mind, merchants should prioritize conversational commerce initiatives -- especially with a view toward future holiday sales. But integrating conversational  features with mobile offerings requires more than flipping the switch on live chat for the mobile Web site. To enable responsive, relevant one-to-one interactions on small screens, merchants should:

Automate social messaging support.

Social media ranks in the top three mobile activities, and during the holidays, more than a quarter of shoppers look to social media for ideas and inspiration. Given that 45% also use social media for customer service, merchants should take advantage of chatbot capabilities in Facebook Messenger, and elsewhere as available, to handle the 70% of customer service requests that can be automated. Those routine queries can include requests for clarification about SKU availability, store hours, and gift wrapping services. 

Personalize live chat with proactive product suggestions. Live chat users are 2.8x more likely to buy than those who don’t, and given that mobile accounts for more than half of live chat requests, retailers who offer an easy-to-use mobile chat solution are already well on their way to boosting mobile engagement and sales. By layering in personalized selections that take into account shoppers’ context and past history with the brand, merchants can earn trust from mobile users and encourage mobile sales.

Delve into voice via Google Shopping Actions.

Voice is on the rise, and mobile is the testing ground. While “smart speakers” are still a novelty,  half of U.S. consumers surveyed by PwC said they’d used voice assistants on their phones -- giving merchants an opportunity to hone their AI-driven conversational offerings before voice shopping becomes omnipresent. Through Google Shopping Actions, a paid shopping platform that enables both search and transactions wherever shoppers use it, merchants can reach holiday shoppers conducting research on the go on their phones. 

How are you building conversational commerce for mobile shoppers? 

You can learn more about the customer experience and how automating the shopper experience can engage your customers at every touchpoint by exploring Linc’s platform and solutions pages. Or take a look at how leading brands like Lamps Plus, Levi's, Carter's and others are using an automated customer assistance platform as part of their customer experience strategies in their businesses today, in our resources page.

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