Spotlight On Conversational Commerce
The web has always been a conversational medium, from Internet Relay Chat in the 1980s to Snapchat today - digital technology has fed our human desire for discourse with others.
Early platforms established chatas a common social activity on the web. Mobile fast-tracked its evolution into a fundamental human behavior—SMS, for example, is arguably still the most common form of digital communication around the world1. Together, mobile devices and social media accelerated the emergence of true digital conversations.Whereas chat was mostly text and usually one-to-one; social enabled multimedia sharing on a one-to-few and one-to-many basis. Mobile set the expectation to do so whenever, and wherever we choose. The two terms are still often used interchangeably, but MEC sees a fundamental difference: chat communicates information, while conversation establishes an ongoing and mutually beneficial rapport.
Now chatbotshave appeared, small pieces of software that use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to mimic the natural flow of human discussion. Bots enable brands to engage consumers directly in conversation—most often in messaging apps but soon, everywhere—in the most relevant way possible. They combine the data-driven efficiency of a computer with the conversational ease of a person, and the result is so authentic that it is often hard to tell whether you are conversing with a human being or a machine. This is driving the evolution of conversational commerce, the practice of establishing a direct, colloquial connection with consumers to build brand awareness, facilitate CRM and enable transactions.
While messaging apps are driving its growth, we already see chatbots and conversational commerce spilling over into traditional digital channels like .com and media, and becoming a common user experience element to the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT).
In this Spotlight On Conversational Commerce, MEC maps out the nascent conversational commerce ecosystem, reviews the current opportunities for brands and looks at a few early success stories and trends to watch as the space takes shape.
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