Conversational commerce is the empowerment of consumers to make shopping decisions, purchases and transactions through messaging apps and other conversational technology. Conversational services and technology have transformed the way people shop. It is easier for consumers to explore product options, make purchases and pay for transactions through messaging apps, chat boxes and voice assistants.

How Did Conversational Commerce Start?

The phrase “conversational commerce” is frequently attributed to Chris Messina, who is the inventor of the hashtag and previously worked as Developer Experience Lead at Uber and UX Designer at Google. In 2015, Messina wrote the technology supporting conversational commerce was growing and there were significant trends among messaging platforms and voice assistants like Siri from Apple.

Messina said conversational commerce is about convenience, personalization and supporting decisions while users are on the move and only have part of their attention on a task. In the same year as Messina’s post, Facebook launched a conversational commerce option, the Transportation feature on its Messenger app. It allowed users to request and pay for rides from car service partners like Uber within the same conversation screen. This is one of the many conversational services that have emerged to meet the needs of a growing number of mobile users.

Pros of Conversational Commerce

Some of the pros of conversational commerce include:

  • Influence in-market audiences. Through conversational technology like chatbots, brands can walk users through their options for products and services and take direct part in the “Consideration” stage of the buyer’s journey.
  • Minimize the barriers to making a purchase. Buyers are able to order what they want in an instant in a simple message or voice command, cutting out steps like driving to the store, locating a product or even pulling out a credit card.
  • Tap into a greater market of mobile users. With shopping tools specifically built for mobile users, consumers can make purchases without leaving their conversations, closing their apps or logging into a desktop.
  • Automate conversations for more efficient customer service. Brands use automated conversational workflows to assist customers and achieve quicker outcomes in resolving problems and answering questions.

Some of the examples of conversational commerce are:

  • Get help selecting the right product using a chatbot
  • Order a pizza with by texting a pizza emoji
  • Request a ride from Uber through Facebook messenger
  • Respond to direct messages on social media about services and prices
  • Add items to an online shopping cart with a voice command