If you’ve bought something online using a mobile device, you’re in good company. More than two-thirds of online shoppers will make a purchase from their phone this year, Statista projects.
Brick-and-mortar shopping is getting a mobile-friendly makeover, too. Bluetooth-powered “beacons” let retailers target marketing messages or special offers to shoppers. And at point of sale, contactless payment options like Apple Pay are proliferating. By 2022, Juniper Research forecasts, 53% of all in-store payments will be contactless.
Mobile offers many exciting opportunities for retailers, especially when community conversations are part of the retail marketing mix.
How do conversations improve the customer experience for smartphone users both pre- and post-sale?
Meet consumer expectations for speed, connectivity
Whether in-store or online, mobile devices help shoppers find what they’re looking for more quickly—whether it’s information about a product they’re considering, or the product itself.
Very often, people turn to their phones when they are in a moment of need. 76% of people who search for a local business on their phone will make a store visit within 24 hours.
What mobile users value above all is convenience. Desktop computers, with their larger screens and keyboards, are still better for in-depth research. But mobile is more popular among consumers who are close to making a purchase.
Not only that, mobile phones offer a degree of person-to-person connectivity that computers can’t match. Social media apps, chat apps, and dating apps all make connection easier and more fun.
What makes community conversations so powerful for mobile users is that they combine the two things people love about their phones: convenience and connectivity.
Responsive communities let smartphone users make real human connections via conversation—whether they’re shopping or looking for support.
Bring the in-store experience online
These kinds of community conversations “humanize” online shopping, helping make e-commerce retail more like its brick-and-mortar antecedent.
Consider the two channels’ respective conversion rates. In-store, shoppers convert at a rate of 40%. Online? Just 2%.
Online conversations help to close that gap by making e-commerce more interactive. When shoppers can research how other customers use a product they’re interested in, they become not only more informed but more confident that the product will meet their needs.
Brand representatives can dive in, too, to provide more details or facilitate a sale (e.g., pointing a shopper to the right product page).
It’s the difference between a sales associate asking “How can I help you?” and a much more impersonal e-commerce storefront.
Choice is great—and Amazon, with its hundreds of millions of products, certainly benefits the consumer—but conversations inject the humanity that e-commerce is often missing.
Scalability as online sales increase
One reason that e-commerce lacks a “human touch” is the problem of scale. A popular online storefront can see thousands (or more) of visits daily, and it’s simply not possible for a human brand representative to greet each of them in turn.
Chatbots and AI do offer lots of promise, particularly for common questions (“How do I return something?”). But they’re not fully baked in terms of the user experience, and at their best, they’ll only approximate true natural language.
Community conversations offer a solution by empowering customers to talk to each other. Large communities on the inSided platform have hundreds of thousands of registered users and millions of annual visits—a reflection of just how eager people are to connect with their peers.
Not only that, on mature inSided communities like T-Mobile’s in the Netherlands, users answer well over half of each other’s questions. This kind of P2P support pays multiple dividends: It reduces workloads for support staff, while making community users more confident in their peers’ knowledge (and encouraging even more peer advice in the future).
Both before and after purchase, authentic P2P conversations greatly enhance the customer experience. The results speak for themselves: According to our internal data, the inSided conversation platform increases both conversion rates and overall customer satisfaction.
By Ben Foster
Content Marketer at inSided. Having worked in B2B tech in San Francisco and Boston, Ben's now happy to be in New York City. He'll never root for the Yankees, though. Connect on Linkedin