The value of digital channels has increased enormously in recent years. There’s been a huge digital migration, with customers switching to online shopping in vast numbers - particularly during the enforced lockdowns of 2020 and early 2021.
The following proclamation could have been applied at almost any time in the last decade, but the numbers bear out just how rapidly e-commerce has grown over the last year:
Customers who would normally shop in physical stores are the primary drivers behind this growth, and though there might have been some initial uncertainty in switching to digital, necessity of use has led to familiarity, with many now perfectly comfortable and expecting to continue using e-commerce channels - even after physical stores fully reopen.
That means user experience (UX) when shopping online is now a crucial factor for any customer-facing business, as 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. It stands to reason, then, that crafting excellent user experiences is central to boosting sales in e-commerce.
Meeting rising customer expectations
Customers have become more demanding when shopping online, steering away from passive and impersonal online shopping experiences and being attracted to brands they feel connected with.
However, traditional e-commerce website interfaces are often missing the real-time brand–to–customer interaction that comes as standard in physical stores. The whole website experience is still predominantly impersonal and lacks a human touch. This conventionality makes it difficult - if not impossible - for customers to engage with brands on their own terms. That’s bad news for brands, because customers won’t hang around waiting for that engagement - they can quite easily go elsewhere to find it.
A lack of personalized UX is a common reason for a customer to leave a website without purchasing. Data shows how a large number of customers tend to be disappointed with the current state of the shopping experience: according to a PwC study, only 49% of shoppers in the USA think brands provide a good customer experience today.
What e-commerce is missing is innovative AI technology to help customers throughout their journey: when they search for products, create an account, sign up for a newsletter, find discounts and deals, and check out. As every user has different needs and habits, they might travel different paths on e-commerce websites.
For that reason, businesses need solutions that would adjust to different user's flows. It’s all about understanding the consumers' desires and concerns in the specific moments in the buying process to help them effectively.
Delivering a personalized UX
One of the best ways to enhance UX is through the deployment of personalization, underpinned by AI-driven services, such as chatbots and other Conversational AI solutions.
Conversational AI and Conversational Web frameworks are amongst the latest advancements in the field of e-commerce tech, and can help online retailers understand consumers better, provide the best communication between a brand and a buyer, and create an exponentially better UX. This is made possible by the use of data-driven customer insights to enable brands to make relevant recommendations.
Conversational Commerce reinvents the typical customer-brand interaction dynamic and can dramatically improve the customer experience - if it’s done correctly. It represents an evolution from a rudimentary chatbot widget in the bottom right of a website to seamless integration between a chatbot and a website. The Conversational Web works as a shopping assistant, offering an interactive experience that will forever change the online shopping landscape.
The product recommendations on conventional e-commerce websites are automatic and lack personalization. Moreover, offers are made according to the buyer’s shopping history, and the recommendation engines aren’t suited for suggesting gifts that shoppers buy for others.
Conversational Commerce uses all available data and real-time user input to create tailored recommendations that fill the gaps left by conventional e-commerce websites. For example, the data on the customer’s previous budget and style preferences, alongside specific issues that made them contact the support center can facilitate cross-selling and up-selling recommendations while lowering cart abandonment rates.
Based on current user intent, this intelligent technology can recognize, for example, that a person who used to buy black male clothes in the past might be interested in purchasing a red dress for their wife or partner with their current visit to the site. A fully integrated website bot understands that every shopper has a unique profile, and they might buy for themselves or others depending on the context of each visit.
Conversational AI chatbots can provide support at different moments. Along with being able to assist a user when shopping for a particular item, they can prompt a user to check their wish list for previously viewed items before proceeding to the checkout, as this practical example illustrates.
This technology can also encourage shoppers to browse special deals: the chatbot can start a conversation by saying, "We have a deal this week for summer clothes. Use our code #summersale to get a 40% discount on all items!". This approach sees the chatbot mirror the role of an in-store assistant, providing a tailored service while driving sales for the brand.
In this way, a user-friendly interface using a conversation can create a truly personalized online shopping experience and provide e-commerce businesses the necessary means to build a digital twin of the best salesperson.
Transforming the e-commerce experience
Conversational Commerce can help e-commerce businesses to shift from an attitude of: “It’s up to the user to understand how a webshop works” to: “It’s up to the webshop to understand what the users want.”
This technology upgrades a chatbot from an add-on feature to an essential tool for any e-commerce website. Conversational Commerce aims at making a bot a part of an e-commerce website, integrated so seamlessly that users won’t be able to distinguish between a bot and a website.