From conversational service to conversational commerce

Gijs Martens

Gijs Martens


12/19/2018 - 2 min read

For about three years now, we've been hearing the terms ‘conversational service’ and ‘conversational commerce’ more and more frequently. Increasingly, Dutch companies are using WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other direct-messaging applications to offer their customers the best possible service. Direct, personal contact with customers is important to ensuring a company's survival in this day and age. Yet the step from using a chat application to using a commercial platform is rarely taken. What will it take to make the leap from conversational service to conversational commerce?

The term ‘conversational commerce’ refers to the combination of social messaging apps and online shopping. It focuses primarily on convenience, a personal approach and assistance in the purchasing process, while also making it possible to complete a purchase directly in the chat app. Its strength lies in the fact that the interaction takes place in an application that the consumer is using everyday anyway. This makes it not only extremely convenient but familiar as well. The user already has the skills the interface requires and is therefore able to concentrate entirely on the content. There is no need to build new applications: your organisation simply makes use of your customers’ favourite channel.

How will this work in practice?

Consumers can use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or another direct messaging application to contact their favourite brand or shop. Or vice versa: companies can send their customers things like order confirmations and Track-and-Trace numbers via the preferred channel.
This contact can then be expanded: a service agent plays more than simply the one role and can use this channel to inspire the customer. If they like the product, the service agent can immediately offer an opportunity to purchase it. Through integration with a PSP (Payment Service Provider), it's possible to complete the payment directly and ensure the customer receives a confirmation via that same social channel. It's the best of two worlds – great service and commercial opportunities.

What it will take

Technologically speaking, the obstacles to implementing conversational service and conversational commerce within an organization are not terribly serious. After choosing the proper social channels and the proper tool to work with, the technological possibilities are endless: you can link payments, integrate a chatbot or apply Artificial Intelligence to add language recognition and mood detection. The next step would be predicting the ‘next best action’, based on all previous data AI can predict when a shopper is close to purchasing and link this to the best action, for example sending a direct message reminding them of the new fall collection.

Vision & drive

The only things your company needs to innovate in the area of conversational commerce are vision, drive and guts, along with a well-thought-out user case. Once you have that, you can leave the realization to us.

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