Conversational Commerce 2022: Trends and Drivers

Here’s a list of things that will dominate the conversational commerce industry in 2022.

Image Credit: Polina Pirogova

A recent report states that in 2021, consumers spent $871.03 billion online with U.S. merchants, which makes it a 14.2% rise YoY from $762.68 billion in 2020. The past two years of the COVID pandemic have fostered retail digitization and AI-powered conversational agents like chatbots and virtual assistants are among the main drivers. Juniper Research expects that chatbots will save retailers $439 million annually by 2023, while retail sales via conversational channels demonstrate a 98% annual growth rate and are projected to reach $142 billion by 2024. All in all, global spending on conversational commerce is predicted to grow nearly sevenfold to about $290 billion, by 2025. We’ve put together a list of trends and drivers that will dominate the conversational commerce industry in 2022.

Stay-at-home-economy on the rise

Since the 2020 lockdown, much of our lives moved online, and new consumer patterns have been established: according to McKinsey, more than 75% of consumers who turned to online shopping will not return to pre-lockdown patterns after all restrictions are over.

In 2021, Walmart U.S. had eCommerce sales amounting to 43 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of over 70% in comparison to 2020’s figure. So, what started as a necessity forced by coronavirus persisted even after the restrictions softened. People discovered a new way to shop and now are sticking to it.

Offline and online blend together

In some ways, the pandemic has blurred the line between online and offline. During the lockdown, many consumers opted for the “buy online, pick up in-store” aka “click and collect” model, and half of those surveyed by McKinsey enjoyed it. Statistics say, “сlick and collect” sales more than doubled in 2020, and are expected to make 10% of all sales by 2025. Although right now retailers view online and offline as two independent directions, customers expect seamless integration between the two, so businesses will have to deliver.

Conversational AI automation continues

Further automation in retail will affect the areas of customer service that consume the most time and effort. When it comes to inbound customer interaction, chatbots and voice bots will handle Frequently Asked Questions on delivery, returns, order changes, as well as loyalty and reward programs. While outbound voice bots will conduct NPS surveys and notify customers about promotions and special offers.

Omnichannel customer experience

Services and support that customers used to get in stores migrated online and now exist as chatbots and virtual on-demand assistance. So, online platforms available to retailers such as websites, mobile apps, voice assistants, messengers, and social networks are becoming increasingly important.

“Chatbots are platform-independent and available across several channels,” says Kevin Cook, CPO at TrackRight, — “Many of these chatbots are presented to the service as another end user, which simplifies their deployment and integration into the platform. This maximizes reach by deploying bots on numerous platforms such as Facebook, SMS, and Twitter, where customers already have an established presence, and stimulates multi-channel engagement, which results in greater brand perception and outreach.”

Omnichannel presence makes it possible to merge all these platforms into a single system, evaluate the customer journey, and offer a seamless brand experience.

Proactive personalization

AI and machine learning technologies allow retailers to create comprehensive customer profiles and offer products and services that are based on customer preferences and anticipate their needs. Thus, customer experience changes from responsive to proactive. According to Microsoft, 63% of online shoppers are willing to share personal information if it results in more personalized offerings from brands and retailers.

“Personalization is crucial in retail. It produces the “how did they know?” effect, which increases customer loyalty,” says Alex Lartey, CBDO at Tovie AI, a London-based Conversational AI solutions and technologies provider, — “Naturally, customers will opt for companies that can take personalization to the next level.”

Integration with messengers and social networks networks

Over 40% of Statista’s respondents stated that they had spent more time on social media during the lockdown. This resulted in a dramatic increase in purchases made through this channel. According to ResearchAndMarkets, this market is expected to grow by more than 30% YoY and reach $604.5 billion by 2027. Chatbot integration with social media and messengers will foster this trend.

Voice-powered interactions

Increasing use of voice search shifts brand-to-consumer interaction to the most natural interface — the human voice. Customers will use voice search on smart speakers, smart displays, TV set-top boxes, as well as voice-powered wearables and mobile apps, meaning businesses will also need to adapt if they want their products and services to be found.

Voice shopping and video shopping

According to eMarketer, 21.6 million Americans used a smart speaker to make a purchase in 2020. The increasing adoption rate of voice-powered smart devices, along with growing ecosystems for developers and skills stores are opening up new opportunities for voice-powered e-commerce experiences and video shopping. Smart displays hold a lot of promise for online retailers, as they pair voice controls and visual channels.

AI-powered speech analytics

Recording customer interactions and analyzing them with AI technologies allow businesses to find the best communication and sales scenarios, as well as monitor the general level of employee training and motivation.

Conversational Commerce 2022: Trends and Drivers was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.