The idea of a website chat widget might seem like something meant only for big box stores, but that’s just one tool in what’s known as “conversational commerce.” Used strategically, any size business can take advantage of conversational commerce to improve its customer loyalty and conversions.
What Is Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce is when a retail business uses conversation channels – like text messaging, chatbots and direct messages on social media – to increase sales or strengthen customer relationships. Sometimes referred to as conversational marketing, conversational commerce lets customers reach businesses more easily and allows retailers to offer personalized service to customers – a huge win for independent pet stores and their customers.
“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”
— Chris Messina, product developer best known for inventing the hashtag
Conversational commerce is unique because it’s a dialogue, not a monologue. Customers interact with your store directly until they’ve purchased the product or service that they were looking for.
Conversational commerce can happen in a variety of channels, but one-on-one text messaging is a channel that is a hugely popular alternative to phone calls or email conversations. Messaging is the No. 1 preferred method of communication for shoppers ages 18 to 49. Unlike a chatbot, messaging lets your customers talk to a knowledgeable team member (such as one of your sales associates).
Through personal messaging conversations, customers can ask questions about your products or services. They can even get assistance with an order they have already placed. The immediacy and personalized approach of messaging makes it a strong sales conversion tool – implementing a messaging option on your website can increase conversion rates by up to 4%, and increase website trust by 40%.
SMS text messaging is one of the most effective forms of conversational commerce because texts have a 98% open rate and a 45% response rate, making them a great option for when you have an important message to send to your customer, such as a message about their order being ready for pickup.
The Benefits of Conversational Commerce
Improve Customer Service
Conversational commerce gives you the opportunity to serve customers with different product and service options, just like your sales associates would in your retail storefront. You can help point your customers to the best product for their pet, and you can recommend they try complementary items such as toppers or treats. You can make more sales, and you have the opportunity to drive up your average order value.
Build Customer Trust
If you want to build customer trust in both your website and your business, installing a messaging option on every page of your store's site is a good idea because it will reassure customers and ensure that they go through with a purchase instead of leaving and going to a different business or website.
Decrease Abandoned Carts
Conversational commerce done right keeps your customers well-informed and will empower them to shop at your store. The average rate of abandoned carts is 70% – which is quite high. Conversational commerce has been shown to decrease those abandonment rates.
Uncover Customer Insights
Every customer interaction presents a sales opportunity, but it also presents an opportunity to learn more about how your business is serving pet parents. It doesn’t matter if the messages you get are positive or negative, conversational commerce will tell you what’s working and what can be improved, so that you can deliver the best experience possible for your shoppers.
Having these conversations with customers is a great way to deliver better service and build customer loyalty. Conversational commerce empowers you to offer more personalized and high-touch customer service, which prompts customers to choose your business over your competitors.
4 Steps to Get Started With Conversational Commerce
You can (and should!) start using conversational commerce no matter your budget or what size your business is. Every business is unique, so you should consider a few things when choosing how to implement this powerful medium.
1. Determine your goals
Before implementing a conversational commerce platform and strategy, take a little time to pinpoint exactly what outcome you are looking to achieve. Would you like to offer easier, more time-effective customer service options? Are you looking to offer product guidance through your e-commerce storefront?
Be sure your goals align with what conversational commerce platforms can realistically achieve.
2. Select the right tools
Once you’ve finished goal setting, it’s the right time to look for the best platform to get started. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider looking at tools that other businesses are using.
Pet retail stores using NextPaw, a WPA partner, can expand their conversational commerce offerings by activating payment processing through their existing conversation channels such as websites and social media. NextPaw creates content-rich business listings on search engines with messaging options embedded, making it easy for consumers to start a conversation with your business from whatever platform they’re using, like Google Maps. Make sure your business listing is up to date on store locators.
3. Test drive and launch
After you’ve decided which tool or integrations you’ll be using to talk to customers, you’ll want to ensure they’re set up properly. Run through a few tests with any tool you’ve installed to identify and solve any potential issues before announcing your powerful new customer service and sales offerings.
4. Measure your results
After you’ve chosen and launched your conversational commerce platform and strategy, it’s critical to measure the results. Did your web chat option bring more conversions? Are your customers leaving positive reviews of your business on platforms such as Google and Facebook? Having a good idea about how your strategies are performing will help you make better decisions going forward.
Customers expect more these days. Conversational commerce will help you meet your existing customers and new shoppers wherever they are. Your store should be equipped with simple, powerful tools to help your business adapt to the changing needs of pet parents and the retail industry as a whole.
Subscribe to the WPA365 Newsletter
Savvy pet retailers can stay up to date on the latest content for pet professionals by signing up for the WPA365 monthly newsletter. Find advice, industry updates and more — curated for your needs. Complete the form below to subscribe!