Author Don Schultz in his renowned book – Integrated Marketing Communications – proposes a brilliant theory which is truer today than ever before. He says that everything about a company can be copied except, “how a company communicates with its consumers.” With the introduction of Conversational Commerce, this is especially relevant. The technologies that we all saw in sci-fi movies are becoming reality. Do you remember Johnny Cab from Total Recall? We may not have a Johnny Cab yet, but self-driving cars are just around the corner. You may also remember Tony Stark constantly chatting with his AI-powered, very human-like Jarvis. These movies showed that in the future, technology will make our lives easier. And that future is today. Combining these once sci-fi technologies with the most human way of interacting – voice – brings us Conversational Commerce or, better yet, conversational experiences.
Conversation is one of the first things we learn as a baby and as such, it carries emotion like no other means of interaction. Conversational Commerce promises to fundamentally alter relationships between consumers, retailers, and brands. Unsurprisingly, the adoption rates of smart voice assistants have shot through the roof. But what do consumers really like about it? Why will it change relationships? Convenience. We talk more about why consumers love Conversational Commerce in our thought-leadership paper launched early this year.
Voice assistants and retail
Voice is the most natural and complex form of interaction. Conversational Commerce goes beyond just being a new kind of user interface. As per research conducted by our Digital Transformation Institute (DTI), voice assistants will become a dominant mode of interaction three years from now. We surveyed over 5,000 consumers in the US, the UK, France, and Germany and found that 31% of consumers will use voice assistants instead of visiting a shop or a bank branch and 41% will use voice assistants rather than a website or app. What this means for the businesses is that they have an opportunity to engage on a personal level and in a compelling way with each consumer.
The point of view paper Time to Talk – in collaboration with Intel and MIT– points to the fact that the future for brands is conversational. In this experience era, engagement channels are always evolving. Now, many brands are orienting their customer platform transformation journey toward the most basic form of communicating with anyone: conversations. Conversation is the next default for seamless and holistic engagement with consumers, and a necessary for a connected consumer experience. The papers describe how Conversational Commerce takes us back to the days of the mom-and-pop store combined with the butlers of old English families: a strong foundation in trust.
Conversational Commerce in action
A grocery store using voice as another user interface will enable a voice-activated shopping list option – adding items to your app though your voice alone. By expanding this voice-enabled shopping list by merging shopping at home with shopping in the store, you could enable voice assistance in stores, allowing consumers to ask where a product is located and provide in-store directions. But imagine, when these consumer-centric platforms are combined with voice, the grocery store ceases to be a convenient shop that moves food from one place to another and becomes a food specialist that helps you get the most out of your food.
To develop these capabilities that consistently support the entire consumer lifecycle, you might use Salesforce marketing cloud for the initial contact or the service cloud to manage long-term relationships, commerce cloud to enable anywhere, anytime seamless shopping, or a combination of any of these and other Salesforce platforms that support you in building that engagement with your consumer.
Just last week, I ordered an Italian cookery book and now that the weekend is here, it’s time for some lasagna. If I add a microwave lasagna to my shopping list on a Saturday, the food specialist – which is actually my grocery store voice assistant – could recommend the individual ingredients instead. It can provide me with a step-by-step guide on how to make lasagna from scratch – along with a suggestion of a side salad and garlic bread.
It is when we see the opportunities beyond just another user interface that Conversational Commerce creates an experience that the consumer will remember and return to. It shows how a consumer-centric platform, voice-, and AI-powered assistant can make life easier, creating a great user experience through service and conversation.
You can find out more about these use cases and how technology supports them at Dreamforce this year. Here, we will showcase how SAChA, your personalized voice assistant, integrated and powered with the latest Salesforce solutions and platforms that help your business create that wonderful user experience through Conversational Commerce, can change the shopper experience in the fashion industry.
As we all move forward in this digital era, businesses are realizing the next big battle is not for shelf space or app downloads, instead, it is for the hearts and minds of their consumers. Conversational Commerce presents an opportunity and a challenge for enterprises and their partners to develop deep, sticky brand affinity with an ever-growing cohort of consumers. We will be discussing more on this with a host of Salesforce experts at Dreamforce this year. If you are visiting Dreamforce, it would be great to catch up and talk about this exciting concept, in person.