The impact of COVID-19 has been at varying scales for various business sectors, types and sizes. The local commerce industry is no exception to that. In this article, we shall see the latest trends in local commerce, the challenges peaking up due to the global pandemic, and how a powerful solution of two-way conversational AI on top of Google business messaging comes to the rescue.
What Does Local Commerce Mean?
Local commerce is conventionally the type of consumer-merchant transaction in which a consumer walks into a physical store in a neighborhood, explores, and purchases products. Lately, there have been some crucial consumer trends that the local commerce industry should keep an eye on.
Online-to-offline: the local commerce 2.0
The market is seeing an increasing change in the way consumers engage with local businesses. It is noteworthy that 82% of the consumers try to learn about the products online
before making a purchase in-store. This has been the case even during pre-covid times. Technically, this consumer nature is called the Online-to-offline (O2O) commerce. Unlike the norm so far, online is complementing and not competing with the local businesses. In a nutshell, O2O commerce discovers the consumers online and leads them to the physical stores nearby. Messaging: the new north star
Another trend that is soaring is the consumer’s preference for messaging
with businesses over phone calls. This is no different with respect to local commerce. This behavior can be attributed to a few reasons such as: 1. Seeking instant responses to the queries on products, store, timing, etc2. Expecting similar support & experience offered by the e-commerce giants While the local commerce industry was gradually understanding and responding to the trends, the shocking advent of the COVID-19 has started accelerating the said consumer behavior. Having said that, the local commerce of today is facing some critical challenges. What bothers local commerce today?
The local commerce is facing a fresh set of challenges from two directions - online customer acquisition, increasing cost of support. Online customer acquisition: 1. Low online brand visibility:
More consumers start searching on Google to know more details about the store timings, safety measures of the store before walking in. The inability of the business to respond to the consumers on Google sets a major drawback 2. No scope for product discovery:
The consumers are hesitant to set foot into a local brand store without ensuring the availability of the desired products via online channels like Google. Increasing cost of support:
1. Under-skilled front-office:
As consumer inquiries on products and services go north, it is expensive for the local brand’s management to employ dedicated, skilled staff to address them. 2. No instant response capability:
The businesses are forced to set up a team of support staff that can ensure instant response to inquiry messages manually or consider a standalone, own-channel support automation solution. Either of the methods is a costly affair. The new-age tech of conversational AI leveraging the power of Google business messaging (GBM) has been shaping up to support and steer the local commerce. A fresh tech to the rescue:
On one hand, two-way conversational commerce has been seeing historical responses among the local brands. They are trying to ride the opportunity by offering conversational shopping and support experience to the consumers on various channels. On the other hand, Google's Business Messaging has opened up allowing conversational AI players to build their solutions on top of the GBM channel.
With all good intentions to drive best of value to the local business brands, Yellow Messenger's commerce product ‘Canary’
is integrated with Google Business Messaging (GBM). The Integration comes out as a perfect blend riding all the consumer trends and addressing all the business challenges. Transforming solutions for local commerce:
The two-way conversational commerce on top of GBM sets out to help the local businesses become truly contextual, customer-focused, and contactless. 1. Customer-focused commerce:
a. The Canary-GBM solution offers a two-way customer support automation that is completely conversational. The solutions add a creamy flavour of NLP-based support allowing the consumers to chat with the bot in one’s own comfortable language such as English, German, Hindi, or even the mixed-ups such as Hinglish. This entirely brings to zero the need to set up a skilled support staff to handle the whole lot of consumer queries b. Sell to the consumers from where they are. The Canary-GBM solution acts as a lead acquisition engine for local brands by engaging with the consumers on one of the most used search engine platforms, Google. c. The product comes up with a subscription management feature that increases the lifetime value of the customers by easing the recurring or cyclic orders.This also brings down the cost of marketing to the same customer repeatedly to place an order for the next cycle.
2. Contact-less commerce: a. The Canary-GBM provides the feature of browsing the catalog of the local brand online. Apart from addressing the consumer trend to browse products before walking into the store, this feature also opens a whole world of buyer scenarios such as i. Browse online, decide on the desire product thereby ensuring quicker checkout at the store ii. Safely explore the products without touching physically while at store and get them delivered iii. Explore the products at the store without worrying about the correct fit, size, flavour, or any variable and book on the endless aisle b. The product supports the popular new-age digital payments like UPI,Stripe, Square ensuring safe, contactless payments while checking out at stores. c. The feature of booking appointments/reserving tables ahead will be a timely help for all the service businesses, restaurants, and the same time for showroom brands to ensure personalised and safe experience to the customers in the post-covid world.
3. Contextual commerce:
a. The Canary-GBM engages in suggestive selling by triggering smart product recommendations thereby causing sticky customer experience and to use this channel repeatedly
b. The demography-based product discovery feature makes the makes the entire consumer-local brand engagement hyper-personal and hyper-local and only causes the consumers feel more relevant with the local brand eventually
c. The top-notch feature that has all the while been a weapon of giant e-commerce is the ability to draw key insights on consumer behavior and demand patterns. By placing this in the hands on the local brands, the local brands will be able to connect with the customers deeper, take data-driven decisions like running timely offers and establish super-solid relationships.
Impact of Conversational AI on GBM for local commerce:
The powerful features of Canary commerce coupled with the scale of GBM helps the local commerce industry derive impactful values.
1. Increase of brand visibility on Google search
2. Easy product discovery
3. Cost-effectively driving leads to the local businesses from Google
4. Organic growth of footfall to the stores
5. Effortlessly servicing customer queries 24x7 at scale
6. Steady increase of CSAT
In summary, the time and opportunity has never been so perfect for the local commerce industry to adopt the conversational AI, leverage the scale of Google business offerings, and scale the support, sales and customer experience.
More Posts on Conversational AI