Why Conversational Commerce Is More Than Just a Chatbot
By Ian Donnelly
The rise of AI is ushering in a new era of e-commerce — one where conversational commerce will shape next-level customer experiences.
But with so much changing so quickly, understanding this new future of e-commerce is a bit tricky, especially when chatbots are our only frame of reference for customer-facing AI.
Chatbots have been around for a while now, but with conversational AI taking the e-commerce world by storm, chatbots as we knew them are a thing of the past. Comparing these outdated tools to the conversational AI interfaces now available to businesses is like comparing a pocket calculator to a MacBook.
Conversational AI can do so much more, with the power to guide customers through a complete and personalized experience with your brand. It can offer a truly two-way conversation with your consumers, allowing you to organically nurture every step in the buying journey in a way that has never been achievable before.
Here are the key differences between the chatbots of yesteryear and the revolutionary conversational commerce tools that you can use to stay ahead of the e-commerce curve.
What Exactly Is Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce is the process of using automated conversations and AI technologies to create more engaging customer experiences when shopping online. It allows consumers to interact with your business through multiple channels like messaging apps, on-site chat windows, and voice assistants to solve issues, find the perfect products, and communicate with your brand in a more organic way.
Conversational commerce has recently grown in leaps and bounds thanks to the advancements of conversational AI, a type of artificial intelligence that can simulate human conversation. This emerging technology allows businesses to offer a truly interactive dialogue and dynamic exchange with their shoppers.
This might sound reminiscent of messaging chatbots you find on many e-commerce sites, but the depth of uses that conversational commerce now offers is unmatched. With conversational commerce, customers can get quick answers to important questions, easily purchase items without having to navigate through entire websites, and receive helpful suggestions based on their previously collected customer data, including personalized product recommendations.
With so much to offer shoppers, conversational commerce eclipses the chatbots of the last decade. And when you take a look at how these two technologies work, it’s easy to see why.
Consumers Feel Limited by the Chatbots of Yesteryear
Up until the recent explosion of AI-powered tools like ChatGPT and Siri, most people viewed chatbots as simple, superficial tools.
That’s because chatbots were limited to a rule-based system that restricted communication to a set number of predetermined responses. They could only reply to a narrow range of queries, so that was what your conversation was limited to — you had to play by the chatbot’s rules to get any value out of the interaction.
We've all encountered rule-based chatbots before. They resemble automated phone menus, guiding users through a series of preset choices to reach default answers.
And while there are positive use cases for these types of chatbots, like providing information on business hours or processing basic customer service requests, they can’t go beyond simple interactions. And more often than not, your customers will get frustrated by the limitations of these self-contained systems.
Conversational AI Can Listen, Chat, and Learn
But those limitations are things of the past thanks to the rise of advanced AI technologies. Today, AI-powered chatbots serve as virtual assistants, capable of comprehending text and speech and offering responses that go well beyond a basic script.
Instead of restricting users to a predetermined set of questions they can ask, conversational AI uses natural language processing to analyze and grasp human intent in the prompts it receives. It can discern any question it is faced with, even when prompted with colloquialisms or slang.
Not only does it understand what a user is saying, it can also generate responses beyond what a rule-based system could produce. This is thanks to generative AI, which can create appropriate and relevant responses within a real-time conversation. It has the ability to facilitate two-way interactions, surpassing keyword-based responses or interactions dictated by menu options.
Another key ingredient of conversational AI’s ability to create organic dialogues lies in machine learning, which gives it the capability to learn and broaden its understanding through further data input.
Having a conversation that truly grows and deepens with customers as they interact more and more is the crux of conversational AI’s value for e-commerce. It can learn from a user’s responses to suggestions, incorporate their preferences, and guide their customer journeys with personalized content that speaks directly to their wants and needs.
Conversational Commerce Is the Evolution of E-Commerce
In this exciting new era of e-commerce, brands can’t rely on a chatbot to piece together a satisfactory customer experience.
Businesses can now use conversational AI to serve as a personal customer service representative that is an expert on your brand, your products, your policies, and more. It can speak in your brand voice and cultivate ongoing conversations across multiple apps and channels. It can be trained to guide each individual shopper through their entire shopping experience and tailor their journey with data unique on their likes and dislikes.
Conversational commerce is set to revolutionize shopping as we know it. And Bloomreach is already making it a reality with Clarity, our conversational shopping product powered by the latest advancements in AI.
Trained on real-time customer data, your product catalogs, and our 13+ years of data on how customers shop and search, Clarity allows every customer to seek guidance from your brand’s most trusted expert: you.
Conversational commerce is on the horizon, and shopping will never be the same again. You can stay ahead of the curve by being at the front of the line for Clarity, our innovative new solution — visit our site to learn more and join the waitlist today.