Chatbots and conversational commerce

Why is this important?

Chat and messaging has become a natural part of our everyday interactions with one another. It is still dominantly between humans, although the rise of conversational commerce has been predicted for some years. Conversational commerce means using chat or natural dialogue interfaces for interacting with a company, much like would be done with a sales clerk. The conversation can be between consumer and business, consumer and shopping assistant or merchant and back-office system. Using chat or messaging is a natural interface which works well for mobile, scales well into new features, supports multiple devices and is familiar to most. Therefore it is very lucrative for businesses.

Things to keep an eye on

Conversational commerce advances in two frontiers: in platform specific chatbots and integrated into other messaging apps such as WeChat or Messenger. The advances in artificial intelligence have enabled more fluent conversations to take place with chatbots, making them more usable. There is also increasing amount of commercial offerings integrated into messaging apps. It is also worth looking how voice activated personal assistants such as Siri or Alexa evolve in terms of recommending where to shop.

Selected articles and websites

The conversational commerce hype is real
Watch Out for the “Conversational Interface” in 2017
Chatbots and VR lead this season’s top tech trends in retail
The inevitable march of the chatbots into conversational commerce
2016 will be the year of conversational commerce
Start building Actions on Google

Mikko Dufva

Research Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd