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EDITORIAL Digital commerce drives a new era in conversational commerce – does Zoom hold the key?

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Exciting times as the World Telemedia Show hoves into view for a live outing in October – book your early bird tickets now. And what a time to bring back the industry leading live event.With the European digital commerce market seeing some 500 million users – that is pretty much everyone in Europe – it is no surprise that conversational commerce is riding so high.

The move to online for everything from shopping to entertainment to work to communications has made this inevitable, but the data from TradingPlatforms.com suggests that penetration of 60% in the European market is now the norm.

The report very specifically talks about digital commerce, with no distinction made between fixed and mobile. Given all the others stats that we have seen about mcommerce over the past 18 months, it is naturally to assume that TradingPlatforms has taken the inevitable step of lumping mobile in with all other digital commerce.

This in itself is interesting as it shows that today online commerce is pretty independent of device: consumers are doing it on the device that best suits them at the time, and so demarcation between platforms is slipping.

This boom in digital commerce is also proving a boon for conversational commerce. As more consumers are digital – through whatever device – the more brands need to interact with them through the channels of their choosing.

We have seen to date a lot of traction for moving to WhatsApp and even RCS, along with social DMs and even iMessage, but it seems that while these are all an essential part of the mix, you can’t overlook SMS.

According to a study by UK conversational commerce SaaS platform Blueprint, Brands that use text messages to speak to their audience see an average live time value (LTV) of their customers increase by an average of 26%.

The research – which surveyed over 100 leading brands across the UK and US – demonstrated that text message conversations move buyers from first to second orders more effectively, reduce subscriber churn, and improve a store’s understanding of what makes customers make multiple purchases.

No surprise then that mobile carriers are keen to get in on the action. A recent study by DOCOMO finds that mobile carriers are pivoting to digital services to fight commoditization of connectivity business and the pressure on profits amidst heavy capital expenditure on the rollout of 5G services.

In this instance, they are looking at how to bundle in OTT services – not just to tap into conversational commerce, but it must be playing a role – but could it be that the SMS services that they already run could start to generate increased revenues?

Another facet of the conversational commerce/interaction play comes from news that Zoom is branching out into corporate customer contact, with the $14.7bn acquisition of Contact Centre as a service (CCPaaS) provider Five9. Could we soon see conversational commerce taking a video twist?

We have all become more than used to Zoom for business meetings – and for talking to friends and family – but could we soon see that shift to how we interact with brands? And what next: will we see the trends for shoppable messaging start to appear in Zoom customer service calls? Imagine a world where you can chat to a real person – or an AI avatar – about something and buy it, all within a video call. This surely is the next stage in the evolution of conversational commerce; adding video and making that shoppable. It could be so rich and real-world-like that it could be a real game changer for how people shop and how they entertain themselves. Interesting times lie ahead

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