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  • Daniel Rae

How c-commerce can help enhance your sales via social media


C-commerce isn’t a particularly new buzzword, but it’s one that has been gaining more popularity recently. So, what is it, and how can you use it to help your business drive sales?

What is c-commerce?

The term ‘conversational commerce’ - or c-commerce - was originally coined by Chris Messina (the inventor of the hashtag) in an article on Medium. In his original 2015 article, he said: “Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”

Basically, it is when people and businesses connect through chat or voice assistance with the aim to find out more before they purchase goods or services. If customers are on the fence about a product, they might want to check the finer details before taking the plunge to buy. Traditionally, people might have spoken to a salesperson in store or phoned for details, and more recently, emailing or live chat on websites are common for these types of conversations, but now more often people are turning to social media, where they expect a more instant response…and this is where c-commerce comes into its own.

If you’re wondering why you need to pay attention to c-commerce, this stat from Twitter might help - when a customer tweets a business and receives a response, they are willing to spend 3–20% more on an average priced item from that business in the future. That goes to show that a little bit of care and attention can pay off. The same research found that customers who receive a response from a business are 44% more likely to share their experiences—both online as well as offline.

Convinced? Read on to find out how to put it into practice…

How do people use c-commerce?

Facebook carried out fascinating research in 2019, finding that two in three people surveyed had used a Facebook product (Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram DM) to get in touch with a business.

When asked why they engaged with brands, these were the five key areas named:

  • Product or pricing information (45%)

  • Instant responses at any time (35%)

  • Easy way to shop (33%)

  • Personalised advice (31%)

  • Ability to negotiate prices or offers (30%)

At a glance, it’s obviously the quick and easy personalisation that makes c-commerce so appealing in today’s society, where short attention spans and the need for instant gratification are commonplace. In a word, it makes the online shopping experience more convenient. This could be as simple as a potential customer asking a brand ‘do you have a wide-fit version of this shoe?’, ‘when will you have this mat back in stock?’ or even ‘how much is shipping?’.

It’s certainly something that has applied to my own experience, particularly when in the market for longer-term relationships like energy, insurance, subscription boxes, television or mobile phone services. When nearing the end of my Sky television subscription, I had a lengthy conversation with one of its customer service reps via Facebook Messenger about renewing and changing my current TV subscription, including questions on length of contract, channels, add-ons, etc.

Tips for adding c-commerce to a business

Unless you are ignoring all private messages across social media, there is a good chance that you are already carrying out c-commerce!

All you need to do to take advantage of c-commerce is to have your social media channels and direct messaging tools open, and available for customers to message you on.

While many will see the majority of messages coming through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it’s worth calling out WhatsApp – their business offering allows a huge level of c-commerce options for small businesses, whether it is a cake maker, a hairdresser or a woodworker. Most recently, this tool launched catalogs to help make chat easier to share information and options.

To make the most of the opportunities presented, here are some tips to help your efforts:

Check and respond to messages

With 83% of the public expecting a response on social media in less than 24 hours it is important to try to get back to people as quickly as possible.

Obviously, without a huge team it is impossible to respond instantly to everyone – tools such as Facebook offer auto-responses for direct messages for when you are out of office (such as evenings and weekends) so people know you will respond in the morning – meaning they know they have not been ignored.

On Facebook, brands which respond quickly to messages (defined as responding within 15 minutes to over 90% of queries) receive a ‘very responsive’ badge.

This is another reason why it’s good to turn on those auto-responses: posts received when auto-responses are on don’t count towards your responsiveness badge, helping you reach that goal.

Create a list of FAQs

You’ll find that there are several questions that come up time and time again: shipping costs, average delivery time, and whether you can book online, for example. If you have a list of FAQs on hand, you’ll make it easier for the team to answer common issues quicker. For bigger teams you could look into a chatbot for this – we’ll discuss that more later.

It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers

Even if you don’t know the answer immediately, it’s fine to say ‘I’ll check into this and get back to you’ – anything to help the potential customer feel seen.

Letting them know you’re looking into it, and not just leaving them hanging with no response will add to that positivity.

Taking c-commerce to the next level with chatbots and automation

For larger companies, or those who receive a lot of questions, you may consider using a chatbot, to allow customers to get answers to questions instantly, even out of hours.

Chatbots are great to provide answers to FAQs, particularly in industries such as travel, hospitality or utilities, and with research finding that 40% of consumers have no preference whether a chatbot or a person answers their customer service questions, it can make is easier to free up your customer service and social media team.

Chatsbots can exist on Facebook, websites, even voice recognition systems like Alexa and Siri, and can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be, often working on a ‘if-this-then-that’ methodology to provide options. If it can’t answer the question, it will push the message to be answered by a human – easy!

Overall, c-commerce is a growing area, and with just a few simple steps brands can make the most of it, help drive sales, and potentially even create brand ambassadors by providing a positive experience.

Brands need to move away from the traditional “complaints handling” focus of dealing with inbound messages – modern buyers look to get all of the facts and ask questions as a means of reassurance before taking the plunge and making a purchase or commitment. Some friendly advice and extra information can tip a customer from the consideration to sale, or even support increasing the value of the transaction.

If you’re interested in learning more about how c-commerce can help your business, get in touch...we're always happy to chat.