One of the most talked about technology trends of 2016 revolves around the rising use of messaging apps, which people are now spending more time on than the world’s most popular social media platforms. The four most popular messaging apps, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber are now attracting roughly 500 million more active users than Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram combined. Jim Tomanchek from Adweek elaborates, “Research shows that mobile messaging users are loyal, or at the very least, ‘always on.’ Messaging apps are used almost nine times a day, five times the average for all mobile apps. A month after installation, messaging apps have nearly double the retention rate of the average for all apps: 68 percent vs. 38 percent.” Wowza. Those stats can’t be ignored. Undoubtedly, messaging apps are quickly transforming into the newest and coolest platforms for socializing on mobile.

BI intelligence graph messaging apps

 

Mobile Shopping Usage Is Beyond Booming

As people continue to spend increasing proportions of their time conducting a variety of activities on mobile devices, they’re also making the natural transition into shopping where they work, relax and play. There has been a significant 7x increase in shopping activity via mobile devices since 2010, and we’re surprisingly still in the earliest days of mobile commerce.

 

Conversational Commerce is “The Next Level” of Engaging with Businesses on Mobile

Source: Bankaigroup.com
Source: Bankaigroup.com

So we have prefaced that messaging apps and mobile shopping are BIG, no doubt about it. Given these trends, it’s no surprise that a matrimony of the two has begun to take center stage. This powerful union, known as “Conversational Commerce,” blends the popularity of texting on messaging apps with the convenience of communicating with businesses/shops directly on mobile.

Yes, businesses are quickly realizing that consumers are willing to shop and engage with their brands where they are already spending a large chunk of their time – on mobile messaging apps.

 

What’s the Goal Here?

The goal of conversational commerce is innovative yet also beautifully simple. Businesses are now making it almost effortless for consumers to spend money on the items and services that they want, by simply using the messaging apps that are currently dominating the global telecommunications space. It’s actually predicted that by the end of 2016, competitive messaging apps will enable mobile users everywhere to order food, check bank account balances, order taxi/ride services from Uber and Lyft, pay bills, manage flights, and much more – directly within a conversation, oftentimes through a simple API integration. “Message and you shall receive” has literally become the new mantra.

 

More Sales and Engagement

Beyond just allowing the users of messaging apps to shop where they talk and text, conversational commerce is also connecting businesses to consumers in one of the most direct and unforeseen ways that we’ve witnessed. By “merging” with messaging apps, businesses/brands will also empower consumers to track shipping, ask questions, and chat with brand representatives in seconds. Some are even claiming that these technological progressions will spark the most powerful onset of artificial intelligence and bot communication that the world has seen, since the roughly 3+ billion people who currently use messaging apps will surely expect fast response times and excellent customer service in general.

Fundamentally, service can become dramatically more personalized and relevant, encouraging more loyalty and engagement. Businesses have rarely communicated with consumers under this kind of context before, so this is a major improvement for CX compared to how commerce has been conducted in the past. Conversational commerce is making shopping on mobile extremely personal, convenient and effective.

 

The New “Meeting Grounds” of Mobile

This also means that messaging apps are currently undergoing a complete transformation in regards to how they’re developed, monetized and marketed. Connecting with businesses/brands means that messaging apps are forming powerful new partnerships that are bringing a lot more value to the mobile app marketplace. For example, Snapchat partnered with Square to introduce their game-changing Snapcash feature, which allows money to be transferred between eligible Snapchat users from within its Chat feature. One of Snapchat’s board members has also recently declared that extensive conversational commerce is coming to the app next.

Now, instead of having to rely solely on rich media advertisements, in-app purchases, or freemium business models for monetization, messaging apps can now provide their users with more relevant, convenient and valuable products or services for sale. WhatsApp has just eliminated its annual $1 fee in preparation of introducing conversational commerce to the messaging app later this year. In regards to the e-commerce space, you should expect to see monumental changes within the next 1-5 years. While e-commerce currently makes up about 7.5% of all retail sales in the U.S., there is unbelievable room for growth with the rolling out of conversational commerce and skyrocketing mobile app usage in general.

Certain apps are already on top of this trend and have implemented conversational commerce for the world to use.

Source: techcrunch.com
Source: techcrunch.com

 

Apps That Already Offer Conversational Commerce:

  • The Tango app offers Walmart and Aliexpress products for sale via a Shop menu tab.
  • WeChat is China’s premiere messaging app brand that offers e-commerce at massive scale
  • Slack is a web and mobile app that lets teams communicate more easily. They also offer an app directory which enables users to discover and integrate apps within Slack’s UX.
  • Quartz is an iOS app that delivers the news in a conversational text-message style, and includes bits of sponsored content to monetize their news updates.
  • Facebook Messenger is granting select users’ access to a personal assistant named “M” who can order items and complete tasks for you via artificial intelligence technology. This feature is expected to be issued to the general public at some point in the distant future, since Facebook has been prioritizing the growth of Messenger.
  • The text messaging service known as Magic promises to allow users to order absolutely anything that they could wish for, including a tiger to your doorstep.

You can also expect to see conversational commerce offerings from apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and even SMS-based services within a year.

Tango's messaging app. Source: techcrunch.com
Tango’s messaging app. Source: techcrunch.com

 

Conversational Commerce Will Spark Some Challenges

Big change creates big challenges. Because more mobile users are beginning to converge on relatively fewer apps, limiting your crashes and maintaining a positive user experience in general could prove to be a little bit more than a dilemma. With so many new partnerships being formed as a direct result of conversational commerce, there’s a lot of exciting opportunity occurring, but also a lot of careful decision-making and UX analysis that must be performed.

One way to ensure that your mobile app receives all of the benefits of conversational commerce without the potential downfalls is to integrate with a lightweight yet powerful mobile analytics platform. A robust analytics platform that shows you actual user flows, user behavior, and funnel processes will help you better refine and monitor every aspect of your app’s UX and make sure it is up to par in this competitive new market.

Appsee’s App Analytics provides features like User Recordings, which will enable you to monitor your users’ unique journeys, and assess how they are reacting to your latest menu changes, new features, onboarding tutorials, design alterations, and every other detail that could have an impact on your user retention. Appsee can help you notably improve your user experience and generate the long-term revenue that your app needs in order to beat the difficult odds of finding success in the mobile marketplace. Additionally, Appsee provides mobile teams with Touch Heatmaps, Realtime In-App Analytics and Conversion Funnels which each play a unique role in delivering greater value to your users. Conversational commerce is an exciting endeavor for messaging apps, yet it also means that the bar is raised higher than ever before when it comes to UX and CX.

 

Conclusion

On the horizon, you can expect to see even more people spending greater durations of time on mobile devices, since they will not only be chatting with friends – but also shopping and engaging directly with businesses at the same time.

Conversational commerce will increase mobile app usage and completely change the mobile app landscape, which many say is for the better. People are finally beginning to trust the process of spending money on mobile devices not only in Asia, but across the Western world too. Most app owners already understand that mobile users typically want to go down the path of least resistance or find the most convenient solution for their needs whenever possible.

It’s for this reason that messaging apps are making it extraordinarily easy for consumers to speak with brand representatives, solve problems, and order practically any product or service that they could ever want. People will soon begin to view messaging apps not only as a way to chat with friends, but also as a direct line of communication to the businesses and brands that they love.

While conversational commerce is still in its earliest days, we’re already begun to witness the uproar of excitement that it’s causing. People are convinced that this surging trend of 2016 will change the mobile app industry forever. What do you think?