What is Conversational Commerce and How Will it Impact You in 2018?

As 2017 draws to an end, we can safely say it’s been “The Year of AI”. Well, kind of. There’s no doubt that 2018 is also set to be the “The Year of AI”. Then maybe 2019. And 2020. I could go on.

The term AI is a loose one. It may conjure up images of Blade Runner or iRobot for some people, but for most of us working in marketing, it’s used to describe things as varied as machine learning, chatbots, and conversational commerce. So what should we start investing in to ensure we stay ahead of the trends?

Machine learning is where it is at over the next year and we’re also set to see a rise of sophisticated conversational commerce platforms, like Alexa, in the near future.

Mobile voice searches now account for 42% of all searches, (seeing a 68% increase in just the last 12 months). This is set to rise to at least 60% in the next 24 months. Language processing is set to become smarter, will be able to understand commands better, and start to deliver increasingly accurate results. In short, the better the tech, the more consumer-friendly it will be.

What is Conversational Commerce?

“Alexa, what is conversational commerce?”

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalisation, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare. “

“Alexa, who said that?”

Chris Messina on Medium” 

“Thanks. Alexa”. 

Now we’ve had the basics explained to us by the talented Alexa, it’s time to consider the most important question.

How will conversational commerce affect your business and marketing plan?”.

Unfortunately, there’s is no simple, short-term answer. It’s going to be a situation where a long-term strategy must be created and evolve as the technology develops.

The more machines learn, the smarter and more efficient the technology becomes. This is why you should be thinking about how your business should be using this technology now and in the future.

Voice Searches

The usability and technological adoption of voice searches over the coming 12 months will determine how you plan your strategy, and where you start playing in the space. Realistically, Amazon and Google are going to be the two big players so you’ll have to consider SEO and AEO (Amazon Engine Optimisation) implications. This means taking into consideration how people talk, as well as how they type.

Smart Advertising and Skill Building

To stay ahead of the game, your business needs to invest in smart advertising and skill building – now.

A great example of how this can work well for a company is Dominos (who now class themselves as a tech company). They are building skills within Alexa that are so user-friendly, customers don’t even need to move to get their pizza delivered to them anymore. All they need to do is ask “Alexa, ask Domino’s to feed me”.

If you’re able to imitate or learn from this model by considering how you can make your customers’ lives easier then you’re on to a winning formula, and have the potential to maximise your commercial benefit.

What are the Threats to Conversational Commerce? 

The two biggest threats are Google and Amazon, and their ongoing rivalry. Google has already stopped Alexa (Amazon) being able to play YouTube videos and once you start to use your Google Home for shopping it’s unlikely that you’ll be offered any Amazon products.

We say, let them fight. As more money is invested in voice and machine tech, the two big boys will keep taking jabs at each other until they’ll have to eventually come to some form of agreement.

If Amazon and Google don’t come to a cease-fire, then there’s going to be a divide in where people go for their online shopping. With Amazon’s current trajectory, it’s likely that they can win that battle, especially if they continue to send people to their offline stores, like Whole Foods, and have an impact on local SEO.

Mbot – The Secret Listener

It would be foolish for us to ignore Facebook in a conversation about AI. The social media juggernaut is putting a big push behind voice in the coming months, as their Mbot becomes more advanced and its investment in Messenger Bots and AI learning continues to grow.

Facebook is set to begin rolling out “conversational ad delivery” in the near future. This system will offer consumers ads based on what they are talking about within Messenger. As this technology becomes more advanced, Facebook is set to become an even bigger player in e-commerce.

Do you ever feel that you’re talking on Messenger and then are suddenly served ads based on what you’ve been talking about? Do you find it smart or creepy? Well, get used to it – this isn’t just for Messenger, it’s going to happen with WhatsApp too. Be prepared.

Is it now time to let the robots take over? Will AI technology breed greater innovations in marketing, or lead to us becoming lazier?

If you have any comments or questions about how machine learning can impact your marketing, feel free to get in touch.



Jonny Taylor