Sunday, April 14, 2024

    EDITORIAL A little more conversational commerce, a little more AI guaranteed*

    News that more than half of US consumers that encounter chatbots are more likely to buy from such a conversation is monumental news. While hype around ChatGPT and other generative AI swirls around the media, this is concrete proof that it actually has a significant role to play in ecommerce.

    This comes on the back of studies we looked at a couple of weeks back that found that CPaaS was booming as businesses look to get on board with as many messaging channels as possible, driven by conversational commerce becoming a real winner for engaging consumers. This US study shows that, with the right AI and chatbots running on the right conversational commerce channels, shoppers will shop.

    Strange then that despite AI officially being the hottest thing in customer experience right now – and a really useful tool for commoditising conversational commerce – only 18% of companies are planning to invest in it.

    Instead, businesses are looking to spend what money they have in these straightened times on market analytics – which probably will show them that they need to use AI to engage consumers conversationally – and automated marketing campaigns. This second area is a surprise, as it too is a prime target for the likes if ChatGPT, with many pundits (me included) seeing one of the key roles for generative AI being creating targeted and personalised marketing material.

    I guess, give it a few months, and the investment levels in AI will rocket as this true picture dawns on CMO around the world.

    In the meantime, businesses are looking increasingly at ways to engage consumers effectively and leading UK supermarket Asda has become one of the largest companies in the country in take a chance on RCS to do just that.

    Working with Infobip, the new initiative will help to support messaging across the full online customer journey, including order confirmation, delivery times and substitutions. The roll-out has made Asda the first major UK grocer to launch RCS business messaging in the UK.

    The key thing for Asda is that these swanky looking messages reassure customers about their orders and allow some degree of interaction. This is the first step to a massive company instigating a conversational approach to ecommerce and as such is a big deal.

    Grocery delivery in the UK is a very competitive market and it will be interesting to see how this plays out for Asda and whether any other of the big four grocers join in. It will also be a make-or-break moment for RCS in retail.

    All this talk of conversational commerce (see what I did there?) is all good news for telemedia. Many of the messages and platforms are being run by telemedia companies and these guys have the pedigree of being early adopters of new tech. I look forward to seeing how they actually integrate ChatGPT et al into their offerings before the Summer is out.

    The industry is also set to benefit from the increased online sales that conversational commerce brings. One of the chief beneficiaries will be carrier billing. Data out this week suggests that it is now set to be a $122bn global business in just five years time. It is already a $70bn one now. I remember when we hoped that it might make it to the $1bn mark just a few short years ago.

    What is interesting about this surge in use of DCB is that it is no longer confined just to content. It is seen across gaming and music too. But more interesting still is that it is also starting to garner significant interest in the sale of physical goods and ticketing services.

    Imagine what customer experience powered by AI delivered via CPaaS and backed by easy-to-use carrier billing can deliver for conversational commerce? And it will happen. I strongly expect that, by the time we get to World Telemedia in Marbella in October, someone will have rolled out something along these lines.

    * Apologies to Elvis Aaron Presley

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