In the last 50 years, we’ve seen the major channels for merchandizing go through a profound shift – and we are certainly on the cusp of another.
For the announcement of sales, promotions, and new products, we went from printed mail order catalogues to the digital age of internet and emails, just 20 years ago. Both channels were effective in growing sales online and in-store for a time, but just as paper catalogues dwindled in their efficacy to draw interest, it’s becoming more and more difficult to engage consumers in their overflowing inboxes.
People are wondering what the next successful merchandizing channel might be and the answer shouldn’t surprise you. Deeply imbedded in our modern, interpersonal communication, messaging is poised to become the ruling medium in merchandizing.
If this seems hard to imagine, one need only look to Asia to understand why as commerce has already begun shifting from the web to messaging platforms like WeChat. Brands in Asia have been paving the way, reaching customers about in-store promotions and getting great results on chat platforms.
The Rise of Conversational Commerce
In North America, Facebook is trying to create its vision of chat-based commerce, calling it “conversational commerce.” Instead of having a page or a storefront, you have a chat conversation with a human or a bot to discover an item or outfit that you want to purchase.
Rather than offering businesses and consumers a website, the new offer is a conversation. While this is still a very experimental channel, Facebook has added support for payments in messenger and in the next 3 years (or less) they will see an explosion in use from both consumers and retailers.
Apple is also entering the conversational commerce game with iOS 10’s interactive, commerce-enabled messages, making every message a mini-store.
Messages as the New Store
Soon, brand representatives (or bots) will help you to find the latest looks, tell you about current promotions and answer any product questions, turning a traditionally one-way discovery experience into a two-way conversation. Merchandise will no longer be held static on web pages or in-store shelving units. With messaging, retailers will be able to remove the friction that shoppers typically experience on the web, making the process of finding and purchasing new products easy, familiar, and immediate.
Messaging is the indisputable medium of choice for interpersonal communication on a global scale – it provides interactions above and beyond what email ever could. Is your business prepared for a world where the message box is the new store?