In retail, innovation is the difference between surviving and thriving. Just think about the concept of ecommerce itself; It wasn't so long ago that online shopping drastically transformed the traditional brick and mortar experience and the word omnichannel became central.
The pressure to deliver more shopping options has been ongoing, and continues to evolve. As technology improves, so too does our ability to provide better customer experiences.
Messaging is one tool that's making a significant impact on the ecommerce industry. It's helping brands form customer relationships that last, and hold conversations that have context. Though many businesses have realized just how impactful messaging can be, others still have much to learn. These days, you’re already behind if messaging isn’t part of your multichannel customer experience. Let's explore how ecommerce brands can use messaging in a more meaningful way.
Improving ecommerce through messaging
Reducing friction in customer service
One of the most common use cases for business messaging is in customer service. In ecommerce, customer inquiries are often highly predictable. They're often related to product orders, product information, shipping questions, returns, and other expected topics.
Brands using messaging well in customer service are able to provide fast, efficient updates to their shoppers. But beyond that, they look for opportunities to integrate more pieces of their customer service puzzle.
For example, many online retailers are already using shipping services that have tracking options. A messenger bot can perform the task of parcel tracking in a conversational way. The result? An intuitive and seamless customer experience. So, rather than using messaging in a transactional way, use it to create value in more aspects of your supply chain.
Improving the shopping experience (and decreasing cart abandonment)
Brands that use messaging can greatly enhance the actual shopping experience. Businesses use chatbots, live agents, or often a combination of the two, to give helpful support to customers when it matters most. Nothing impacts a sale more than a personal interaction.
The best conversational interfaces aren't overly focused on conversions. They're there to support, guide, and educate customers. It's not really about selling - it's about customer-centricity.
Using messaging in a deeper way means personalizing shopping experiences, building trust, and delivering real value. Sales are a natural byproduct of putting the customer at the heart of what you do.
Not to mention, being able to solve a glitch in the moment of checkout definitely impacts cart abandonment.
Using messaging for business helps brands deliver all relevant content in one place. Conversational interfaces reduce the need for customers to do research and explore topics outside of your site. It also reduces friction-related to inventory that might be out of stock, or other product questions.
For example, a good chatbot might notify a customer that the item in their cart is selling fast. This might remind the shopper about an item they forgot about, and encourage them to return to the cart.
The more relevant this experience is, the more effective it will be. Try suggesting products based on browsing history, or ask if they're shopping for a special occasion. Again, think of ways you can eliminate friction in the experience and make it fun for the shopper. Regardless of the level of automation involved here, the goal is to get as close to a one-on-one human experience as possible.
How leading brands use messaging to improve customer experiences
They're experts in personalization
Successful ecommerce brands are experts in personalization. They don't simply recommend random products. Their suggestions are specifically chosen for the shopper based on their history with the brand. And, when it comes to product personalization, Sephora sets the bar high.
If you've ever shopped for makeup or skincare products, you know how complicated the process can be. There are products for dry skin, oily skin, combination skin, acne-prone skin, night time, daytime, and a vast number of other options. It can be difficult to know which product is right for you - so much so, that many people rely on in-store experts for help.
Through messaging, Sephora effectively brings much of that in-store experience online. You can speak with a chatbot about what you're looking for, and receive products that match your skincare needs or fashion style. Sephora has even developed a chatbot called the Sephora Virtual Artist on Facebook, that allows people to try on different lip colors using selfie photos.
Through a conversational interface, Sephora embraces the challenges of shopping for beauty brands online. It takes what would be friction in the buying process and flips it on its head. Instead of worrying you've chosen the wrong lip shade, there's a fun way to make sure you've got the perfect match. This is a great example of using messaging to create highly valuable experiences.
They provide support at critical times
One of the benefits of using messaging for ecommerce is that you can reach customers where they already are. That means you can effectively reach them in a short time-frame and expect high open-rates. When a customer is doing something time-sensitive with your brand, this is particularly useful.
For example, eBay uses Facebook Messenger to remind bidders 15 minutes before an auction listing is about to end. Customers are reminded to return to eBay and try to outbid their competitors. This creates peace of mind for customers, who can rest assured knowing they won't forget to place that last-minute bid.
Brands can also follow up with shoppers after they've abandoned their cart. If you're an online retailer, you understand the woes of cart abandonment. With messaging, you can send shoppers a coupon or incentive to encourage them to buy now.
For example, fashion retailer Cole Haan uses Facebook Messenger to remind shoppers about the items they've left in their online carts. The brand uses messenger to send reminder notifications, notify the customer about low stock, and bring their attention back to their carts.
They lighten things up
Many ecommerce brands use messaging to strengthen their brand image or tone. Through conversational interfaces, they're able to showcase their unique personalities and win over the hearts of customers. Let us introduce you to one of the wittiest chatbots in town, Dom the pizza bot.
Dom is a Domino's Pizza creation that's making it easy and fun to order pizzas through Facebook. Dom starts out conversations with messages like, "Hey Facebook Pal, it's just me, your friendly pizza bot who would NEVER steal your last slice… Want to place an order?"
With an intuitive flow and a touch of sarcasm, Dom keeps things refreshingly human. Domino's proves that using messaging a deeper way isn't limited to functionality; You can create deeper experiences by inserting some personality, too.
Creative ways to use messaging in ecommerce
Next, let's review some fresh ideas that you can use in your conversational marketing strategies.
Gamify the shopping experience
Who doesn't love a chance to win a prize or take an interactive quiz? Gamifying the shopping experience is a great way to get your shoppers engaged and excited.
For example, Black Friday is one of the biggest days of online shopping. Many retailers struggle with the issue of abandoned carts as customers shop around and compare prices. Instead of a dull follow-up, try sending shoppers an invitation to try and win their discount.
This could be similar to a lottery, where your shoppers are shown a set of numbers and need to place them in the right order. When they respond with their guess, they can win a coupon or free two-day shipping option. You could also send out a quiz with a WhatsApp bot. If your customer gets three out of five questions right, then they get a discount code.
On platforms like WhatsApp, you can create a unique experience where your customers can unlock hidden offers. You can even make it easy for customers to purchase these offers directly in the chat. By gamifying the experience, you can be sure to break through the noise on Black Friday and beyond.
Customers that regularly interact with brands on WhatsApp or other conversational interfaces are often loyal customers. Messaging allows you to show your appreciation through special offers and content, in a way that feels more exclusive than an email.
For example, fashion retailers can give their customers exclusive previews of new collections only through WhatsApp. Chat with customers about what they like, don't like, and what they'd like to see from your brand.
You can even take it a step further by telling your customers which pieces from your new collection you think they'll like best. Do they already have a skirt that would go perfectly with a new blouse? Use their purchase history to style an item they already own with one they might be interested in buying.
The power of influencers is undeniable. Why not tap into it through messaging? Influencers can further your brand's relationships with shoppers in a much deeper way.
For example, shoppers can text photos of what they've purchased to your brand influencers. They can also send photos of other items in closets, and the influencer can recommend style pairings in a fun and friendly way.
You could also open up an "ask me anything" experience on WhatsApp between the influencer and customers. Customers can ask the influencer anything, product-related or otherwise. This is a really great way to humanize your brand and make it more accessible. And, by choosing an influencer that falls within your target market, it's more likely that you will genuinely connect with your audience.