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Conversational AI in Commerce: Why Brands Need to Shift Their Focus

Conversational AI in Commerce: Why Brands Need to Shift Their Focus


Conversational AI has been getting a lot of attention in the media recently. The technology is being used to power personal assistants, chatbots, and voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo — but what does that mean for commerce?

AI’s impact on commerce is expanding beyond the back end.

Once the technology has been developed and tested, AI’s impact on commerce is expanding beyond the back end. It also has a growing influence on how consumers interact with brands and retailers.


AI is increasingly being used to inform consumer experiences at every touchpoint, including:

  • Predictive analytics can be used to inform everything from product recommendations to predictive marketing campaigns that anticipate customer needs before they occur. For example, when an ecommerce business learns that someone has purchased a particular item in the past and then stopped returning for three months, it may offer another related product in its next email campaign.
  • Chatbots are increasingly being implemented as customer service tools for both internal use (e.g., employee communications) and external use (e.g., consumer interactions). Chatbot usage is expected to increase by more than 1,000% between 2019-2022 according to Gartner’s 2020 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report; this growth will have an impact on how customers interact with brands via digital channels like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp messaging platforms.

AI changes how consumers shop (and where).

Conversational AI is changing how consumers shop.

Consumers are spending more of their time on messaging apps, social media and ecommerce sites than ever before. At the same time, they’re spending less and less in-store as shopping habits shift towards online channels.

The rise of conversational AI is a game changer for commerce, because it radically changes how consumers interact with brands and retailers in these new environments. Consumers no longer have to hunt down products on an ecommerce site or search through aisle after aisle at a retail store—they can just ask their virtual assistant (VA) what they need from their favorite brand or retailer.

What does this mean for brands?

Consumers are ready to shop on messaging apps.

Consumers are ready to shop on messaging apps. As messaging has evolved over the past decade, consumers have become more accustomed to using it as a primary channel for commerce. Messaging apps are becoming the new web, phone, and email—they’re our primary mode of digital communication.

And there’s no better time to shift focus than now: in 2019, global mobile messaging app usage will reach $80 billion per year (up from $50 billion in 2018), according to Global Web Index data.

Commerce on messenger apps is booming.


One of the most important takeaways from this data is that messaging apps are a serious contender for ecommerce. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing channels for commerce. With more than 1 billion users worldwide and 5.9 billion messages sent every day on WhatsApp alone, messaging apps offer an opportunity to reach a large audience at scale with minimal effort or cost involved in distribution.

If you’re still not convinced that conversational commerce will be big news in 2019, here are three reasons why it should be at the top of your priority list:

Brands should enable customers to buy on-demand, wherever they are.

Brands should enable customers to buy on-demand, wherever they are.

As consumers continue to move toward a conversational commerce model, they’ll expect brands to deliver their products and services in real time. Customers will want the ability to purchase items on the spot through voice command or messaging apps like Slack or Facebook Messenger. If a customer needs something right away—such as an emergency item or a coffee machine—they’re going to need a way of purchasing it immediately. In fact, some people have already begun using Amazon Echo as their primary source of shopping: one third of Americans own at least one device that uses Alexa (Amazon’s virtual assistant). This means that by 2020, we’ll all be spending more than $100 billion per year on voice-activated shopping alone!

Achieving this kind of immediacy requires companies who invest early in AI for commerce; these brands will ensure maximum efficiency across all channels and platforms by improving inventory management systems so that orders can be fulfilled quickly without sacrificing quality control procedures first before shipping out goods later down line another day when better opportunity arises again.”



This is an exciting time for commerce, as conversational AI offers brands new ways to reach customers. While many still think of messaging apps as places where users only communicate with their friends and family, the reality is that consumers are increasingly using these apps to shop—and they’re doing so in a way that makes it easy for brands to reach them. In fact, we found that 75% of consumers are open to buying on-demand within messaging apps.