What is Conversational Commerce?
As traffic for luxury retail continues to shift online, replicating the in-store experience consumers have come to expect may provide challenges.
One differentiated strategy to digitize luxury retail is through conversational commerce. Also known as chat commerce, or conversational marketing, this digitally-forward strategy is a way for retailers to replicate the relational experience of a one-to-one interaction with an in-store sales person, in a digital setting.
Conversational marketing allows a retailer to collect and validate data about their audience continuously. It improves customer satisfaction and leads to a shorter sales cycle. Chat commerce can be available 24/7 or automated, while still feeling personalized to the customer.
Luxury retailers should integrate chat apps, voice assistants, or messaging platforms to serve satisfying customer experiences that replicate the in-store experience they’re accustomed to.
3 Luxury Retailers Clienteling Through Chat Commerce
Here’s a few luxury retailers who have delivered an exceptional conversational commerce experience that I’ve enjoyed interacting with:
- Louis Vuitton’s Virtual Assistant: I’ve coveted their iconic monogram bags for years. I recently found myself browsing and after scrolling for a bit, appreciated when their Virtual Assistant unobtrusively popped up in the corner of my screen. It offered a short but strong list of options to assist me such as guided product discovery or checking stock availability. Like a seasoned sales associate, the AI powered experience waited to enter the conversation and pop up until after a few clicks. Rather than scrolling through an FAQ page, or manually checking availability on every product page through a series of extra clicks, the virtual assistant was like a live sales associate willing to look up if my nearest store carried the purse (or when it could ship),or make recommendations on other bags to consider. If I wanted to know more about product’s materials or care instructions, the Virtual Assistant was there to answer. It encouraged a quicker product decision through guided service. The automated prompts didn’t set the expectation that I was interacting with a human, but quickly gave me the option to connect with a live Client Advisor if I preferred at any time. More efficient and self serve than a never ending phone tree that ignores when you press ‘0’.
- WhatsApp Messaging with Burberry: Often embracing new technology and innovation, it’s no surprise Burberry offers a conversational commerce experience that sets itself apart from the pack. With one click from their contact page, I found myself texting with Burberry on WhatsApp like I would a shopping bestie. Initially, Lola, their AI-powered virtual assistant, interacted with me to better assess my needs before transitioning me to chat with Sara, a live Sales Associate, in my region. During store hours, sales associates will respond within 4 minutes. Sara offered sizing advice for a pair of sandals I had my eye on and helped me figure out if my local store had my size in stock. She also offered to estimate how long it would take to ship. The sandals were available to pick up the next day and she arranged for them to be put on hold or quickly check out if I wanted to directly pre-purchase from the app. If Sara was off the next day, her colleague would be there to pick up the conversation – a unique feature of WhatsApp for Business, not available to me if I was personally texting with my favorite sales associate.
- Prada’s WeChat Channel: Serving customers in China, Prada has embraced WeChat early and well. Using it similar to Instagram, Prada uses WeChat Channels to focus on awareness and engagement through video and photo content. They made a splash by releasing exclusive WeChat videos as part of their ‘Hidden Poems’ campaign in 2020 on Channels. Today, their Channels experience turns fans into customers by leading them to their WeChat eCommerce site for an in-app purchase. At any point, you can live interact with the Prada team.
How to Embrace Conversational Commerce
Considering how to integrate conversational commerce into your customer experience. Evaluate your tech stack and operational capacity. WhatsApp or Messenger are a great place to start without a lot of heavy lifting on the tech side, but do require live CX agents to respond if the automated prompts can’t serve the majority of inbound requests. They meet the customer in a platform most have already adopted. On-site chat, especially that which combines AI and automation, can be powerful to keep a customer on-site instead of clicking out and disrupting the purchase flow, but does require more tech investment. For a Chinese consumer base, adopting WeChat is simply the baseline for digital commerce interaction and service.
If you’re interested in expanding your approach to conversational commerce, set up some time with me or one of my colleagues and we’d be happy to guide you.
A few related Gartner pieces I’m reading:
- Digital IQ Index: Luxury Retail 2022
- Keep Pace With Consumers’ Evolving Digital and Hybrid Shopping Habits
- Selecting Conversational AI Solutions for Chatbot and Virtual Assistant Initiatives
Note: Your access to the above pieces may be limited due to your Gartner license. Want to access more? Reach out!
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