According to KPMG, 52% of consumers’ purchase decisions depend on the experience they expect from brands
Customer communication platform CM.com claims its conversational commerce solutions can help digital-first brands improve conversion rates by 30%
The company has worked with several global brands such as French brand Etam, Revolution Beauty from the UK and Netherlands’ My Jewellery
Traditionally, marketplaces have played a crucial role in driving India’s ecommerce growth. But with the rising consumer dependency on online shopping in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new genre of online retailers has emerged. They have escaped the easy lure of marketplaces (read hassle-free operations and quick access to a vast user base) and worked on growing loyal customers by cutting out all intermediaries and selling on their dedicated websites/apps. Their efforts have paid off. D2C (direct to consumer) has emerged as the fastest-growing sub-sector of Indian ecommerce. And it is set to reach $300 Bn by 2030, according to Inc42 data.
Despite its commendable rise, the D2C segment lags where marketplaces most definitely excel. First, there is a mind-boggling collection of products to choose from. Second, marketplaces enable a smooth and seamless buying cycle that delights customers who keep coming back for more. Most D2C brands falter on these scores as they lack the capital and the resources commanded by deep-pocketed ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart.
This begs the question: How can brands turn consumers’ long-standing preference for marketplaces in their favour to move to the next phase of growth?
“Brands today need more than a competitive pricing model to retain customers,” said Chetan Borkar, country manager (India and Sri Lanka) at CM.com, a global customer communication platform.
In fact, adopting a differentiating strategy to beat the competition should be as crucial for new-age brands as unique product development. According to KPMG, 52% of consumers’ purchase decisions depend on the experience they expect from brands. Therefore, customer experience is not merely an afterthought or an additional exercise for driving brand growth. Instead, it is a core business strategy determining whether a brand can scale or survive in a fast-evolving business climate.
One way to deliver a seamless customer experience is through conversational commerce. It allows brands to personalise consumer experience online through personalised product recommendations and product discovery. More importantly, it enables them to engage with their customers across all touchpoints such as email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter.
CM.com is a significant player in conversational commerce, claiming that its bouquet of solutions can help brands increase conversions by 30% or so. It has already catered to global and local brands, including French lingerie company Etam, the UK-based Revolution Beauty, Netherlands’ My Jewellery and domestic jewellery brand Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers, to ensure such outcomes.
Why Brands Should Opt For Targeted Communication
Brands today actively leverage mobile-friendly channels like Facebook, Instagram and SMS to communicate with customers. They create blogs/vlogs to improve engagement, go for SEO to ensure better reach and maintain a strong presence on social media to grab eyeballs. Many have adopted smart technologies to push newsletter subscriptions to keep people aware of attractive deals and discounts.
But the problem is that too much data is available on many channels, which may lead to irrelevance and trigger consumer backlash instead of bringing desired results.
Here’s how Borkar explained it. “Imagine you have bought a pair of sneakers from a brand, did not like them and shared negative feedback with the company. But the very next day, you get an SMS from the brand asking you to check out its new collection. The customer is bound to get annoyed as the marketing communication is not meant for him.”
To counter this issue, brands need to part ways with spray-and-pray marketing tactics, said Borkar. Instead, they should opt for a targeted, personalised approach so that their communication reaches the right audience.
Interestingly, CM.com’s customer data platform (CDP) allows brands to do just that. First, it collects all user data stored across various touchpoints throughout a customer’s buying cycle. The platform then breaks the data silos using big data analytics and obtains actionable insights from the input.
CDP also creates consumer segments based on behavioural parameters (say, shopping history), demographic data and first-party information (voluntarily conveyed by consumers). This approach helps targeted ads because the next time a brand wants to send out a marketing message, it only reaches out to consumers who have shown interest and automatically filters out others.
How AI Drives Sales, Converts Prospects
AI tools like chatbots powered by natural language processing (NLP) and AR/VR have recently gained popularity as they provide a better user experience. Chatbots are especially becoming widely used and accepted. Consider this data from Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022: Around 69% of users say they are willing to interact with a bot for product recommendations and enquiries, a 23% jump from last year.
“A chatbot is a great tool to engage with customers, on-site or through their preferred communication channel. It personalises the experience and eliminates the need for human intervention when queries are simple and can be easily resolved,” said Borkar.
CM.com believes that AI chatbots can transform how businesses manage CX. Its Mobile Service Cloud (MSC) is a unique offering that enables brands to integrate the company’s chatbot with their websites and communication channels.
While most customer interactions happen through the chatbot, complex queries are sent to a centralised system operated by a human employee. When the employee at the backend resolves the same, it is communicated to consumers via their preferred messaging channels.
“We need to understand that chatbots can complement human interaction but cannot replace it,” emphasised Borkar.
Moreover, to accommodate the new Bharat users who prefer to communicate in vernacular languages, the company helps brands build their chatbots in Indian languages. “Most of our clients in India want to have their chatbots in Hindi (after English). However, we can do that in other languages, too,” said Borkar.
The Tech Stack For CX Success
Today, nearly 80% of shoppers say they are more likely to purchase when brands offer them a personalised and seamless experience. This majority mindset proves how crucial CX is for a brand’s acceptance and sustainable growth.
Companies wishing to succeed in the long run should quickly respond to up-and-coming consumer trends. According to Zendesk, two upcoming trends will shape customer experience in the coming years – AI and automation and conversational customer service.
The CX SaaS firm’s report has further stated that more than 70% of customers expect conversational experiences when they engage with brands.
“Customers seek seamless, on-demand experiences with the brands. That’s why conversational commerce is so important in the digital world,” concurred Borkar.
Businesses in India agree with what Borkar thinks, and most are pretty optimistic about the future of conversational commerce. According to the CX Maturity Report, 79% of domestic companies think chat and social channels are most used by customers today, and all of them predict that this will remain the case in the future.
Consumers seem equally confident about AI’s potential to transform experiences. According to Pegasystems, 84% of Indian consumers agree that AI can provide better customer experiences, improve brand reputation, and increase customer loyalty.
The adoption of AI in all spheres of business has also grown significantly since the onset of the pandemic. According to the findings by Brookings, India is among the global top 10 in terms of tech advancements and funding in AI companies.
Even then, AI/ML adoption across marketing functions globally is a paltry 17%, suggests Gartner. This shows a massive gap between what is expected from brands and what is delivered.
AI, automation and conversational commerce will continue to play a crucial role in reimagining CX in the coming years, and brands must take note of these trends to future-proof their business. Of course, companies will go a long way if they can adopt, implement and utilise the right tech stack for targeted and sticky CX. Meanwhile, we must wait and see how enablers like CM.com help them in their journey.