Conversational commerce is still at its infancy, but it will claim its own place in the omnichannel channel mix.
The high score of chat bots when compared to regular web shops in the neuro-usability research, the willingness of use among young people in the GfK research, the underlying (technological) developments and the international examples all endorse this. In our opinion, the form (voice, chat, device, platform) can change, but the underlying artificial intelligence used for personalization, knowledge and cleverness will play a permanent role in shopping. Here chat bots follow a development process from discovery to assistance to authority.
For Dutch-language applications, chat bots are still at the beginning of their development, which can be explained by the difficulty of the Dutch language in combination with the relatively small language area. The first Dutch applications will therefore focus on highly niche domains within which scripted bots can perform tasks. The big breakthrough can be expected if Dutch-speaking virtual assistants reach or even exceed the human level of service by the level of artificial intelligence and their rapid use of all kinds of data sources.
Nevertheless, it offers first mover advantages to start working with conversational commerce already. It can yield a competitive advantage or an increased benefit factor in the short term, but more importantly a lot of educational insights, knowledge and an early build-up of data. It will require more investment and endurance now than in a few years. But the rise of voice, chat and virtual assistants in the customer journey could happen faster than we think.
Despite all the technological developments in the field of chat bots and artificial intelligence, the 'cleverness' of your chat bot depends on how smart you make it, especially where it concerns business or product-specific matters. This requires a significant investment in time and attention, both towards technology and organizational focus.
Like any channel, conversational commerce has or will receive its own conversation rules. In this channel it is not only about what you say, but also about how and when you say it. The real challenge is how, with all this complex technology, you ultimately achieve a 'warm feeling' and a 'pleasant conversation', which brings the customer relationship to a higher level. After all, customers are just people!
As indicated, we are only at the beginning of this development. What can we expect in the near future in the area of conversational commerce? First of all, we expect that the Dutch-language barrier will soon be dismantled. And we think that the combination of using images and voice will be introduced soon; in other words, a 'two-way speaker with a display' on the kitchen table. The development of artificial intelligence in combination with big data leads to hyper-personalization, and with that the chat bot will have enough information with only ‘half a word’. Finally, we think that the initiative for a conversation will also increasingly come from the chat bot, as if it were a real human relationship.