Conversational commerce basically refers to the connection between shopping and messaging.

It is a term first coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in 2015. It is achieved through platforms like Facebook and live chat applications that are “add-ons” to websites and online stores.

The rise in engagement via messaging is not only enhancing the shopping experience, but also promoting two-way real time online conversations that alleviate the need for phoning or emailing.

Research from Juniper highlights that instant messaging has now overtaken email as the preferred vehicle for personal and commercial conversations, with more than 1.4 billion consumers worldwide using mobile messaging apps.

That rise in some ways can be attributed to the consumer familiarity with apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Talk, and WeChat.

Online shopping sites are encouraging consumers to engage using instant messaging for things like:

  • conversations with company representatives
  • customer support
  • product questions
  • personalised recommendations, and
  • click to purchase from the messaging app.

Some premium brands like Louis Vuitton are using Facebook Messenger as a live chat tool for customer service helping shoppers find products and more. We also can see that brands like Domain are integrating the Messenger chatbot into their marketing efforts.

Small business owners can take advantage of conversational commerce by installing a live chat facility on their website which is available for a relatively low cost.

There are a number of free live chat plug ins that can be added to WordPress websites.  Here are some examples.

You can sign up for a subscription to a live chat platform like Live Chat, with prices starting from $16 a month.

While live chat allows a new way to engage with customers it’s also important to  stay on top of interactions to ensure that you achieve the same consistency as face to face or voice contact.