Consumers no longer want to search for you to make a purchase. They believe your business should be where they are.
From buy buttons to messaging bots and voice assistants to scan-and-bag apps, the grocery industry has been embracing contextual commerce, although there’s much more to the technology than the industry has seen so far.
Whether it’s referred to as contextual, connected, voice or conversational commerce, the key element is convenience.
“It’s about bringing the brand closer to the consumer where they are and where they prefer to be,” says Mariam Reza, VP global enterprise solutions for AI-powered messaging platform LivePerson. “It’s a conversation between the brand and the consumer, rather than just an interaction or a transaction.”
An estimated US$40 billion will be spent through voice commerce by 2022, up from $2 billion in 2017, according to research from global strategy consultancy OC&C.
Walmart, Target and The Kroger Co. all have voice-enabled shopping through Google Assistant, while Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market can connect through consumers’ smart appliances and encourage voice-enabled shopping through Alexa.
“Many people find it easier to navigate the online world and make purchases using their voice rather than typing on a keyboard or clicking around with a mouse,” says Stacy Caprio, founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing. “It is much more convenient to speak to navigate the web and make purchases, which I think will be the main reason for voice search and purchases rising in popularity.”
Another large advantage of contextual commerce is a seamless checkout. Take, for example, restaurant chain TGI Fridays, where customers can place an order through a conversation with a voice assistant and use a stored mobile payment or digital wallet service to complete the transaction. The relationship, however, doesn’t stop at a single transaction. TGI Fridays looks at patterns in the way consumers are purchasing and reaches out around the time someone is most likely to order again.
“They’re being proactive with what they’re learning,” Reza notes. “I get proactively asked if I want to re-order that same order again. Now you won’t lose me as a customer if I forget or if another company approaches me.”
This example is a restaurant chain, not a retailer, but the conversion rates speak volumes. TGI Fridays saw a 74% lift in orders when it was proactively communicating with consumers in a timely manner specific to each individual customer.
TGI Fridays’ innovation and partnership with AI-powered personal assistant bots also allows the brand to communicate to consumers in its own brand voice, using phrases such as the tagline “In Here It’s Always Friday,” or personalizing comments about menu items.
Building sticky customers is great for your business, and these features help tremendously. Again, convenience is key, and making the process as simple as possible is what contextual commerce is all about.
“Taking away all friction with one-word voice ordering completely takes away the entire abandoned-cart issue and will be a profitable game-changer for all e-commerce stores who adopt the technology,” says Caprio. “Right now, so many e-commerce stores lose sales from people who abandon their items in carts, due to a high-friction checkout process with many steps and points to reconsider the purchase, or simply open a new tab and start doing something else.”