Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Interest in conversational selling online is growing fast, as brands focus on retail sales

By Rogier Lammers of Cavai

Retail is in the spotlight, with Black Friday on the horizon, and the countdown to Christmas coming around all too fast. Many brands are keen to ‘go big’ in retail advertising – seeking to make a splash in an increasingly cluttered and competitive landscape. Indeed, according to Criteo, some 55% of marketers are planning on increasing their spend on retail websites and apps over the next six to 12 months. What’s more, a study by GroupM projects that ad spend on e-commerce platforms will reach €2.4 billion by 2024.

But why this declaration of love from marketers for ecommerce and retail media platforms? First of all, there is scale at play here: The likes of Amazon, Tesco and, for instance, are amongst the largest sites in their markets in terms of unique reach and numbers of page views. In March alone, more than 213 million people visited Amazon – the world’s largest web shop.

Apart from offering a 100% brand-safe environment, these sites also boast databases filled with first-party data. Their relevance is self-evident, and brands want to stand out online just as they seek to on the shelves of your local supermarket. They have to, because growing numbers are visiting these digital shopping centres and supermarkets.  

The need to boost visibility 

There are of course some key challenges. When you search for ‘mascara’ on Amazon, over 2,000 results currently appear. So, as a brand, how can you ensure that consumers select – or even see – your products?

Offering your wares on these platforms is fairly easy. It’s making sure the consumer finds them that represents a challenge. Most platforms offer the possibility of ‘sponsored products’, which gives brands the opportunity to appear higher in the lists for certain keywords, in return for payment. Another possibility is traditional ‘display’ advertising – in the form of banners on traditional digital media, such as news and sports sites.  

But there’s a new kid on the block, too: Conversational advertising, in digital channels.

What is ‘Conversational Selling’ and how does it work?

Conversational or guided selling is fast becoming a key concept in e-commerce. It allows you to use a chatbot or a menu to assist the consumer in purchasing the product that fits his or her specific needs. This usually happens ‘on site’; so on the website of the brand itself. In this way, the consumer is assisted in finding the right product and the overall experience is improved.  

This is comparable to a sales assistant in-store; a digital sales assistant in the form of a chatbot or other menu functionality that can direct the customer to your shelf. The case for guided selling online is clear to see, and, thanks to the creative solutions of Cavai® this is also now possible ‘offsite’ on many large web shops and price comparison sites. 

Take the creation below; targeted at the haircare category on the Dutch website Thanks to the chatbox functionality, the Remington brand stands out among all other providers. In fact, it led to an open rate of 3.42% with 2.25% starting a conversation with the brand, of which 79.6% finished the conversation and clicked on the product. 

Most importantly, in this way, the customer journey is improved. A brief and non-intrusive interaction helps the consumer navigate to the product that best fits their needs. Research by Nielsen reveals that nine out of ten consumers experience this as a pleasant experience. 

The best of both worlds

For brands, it offers the opportunity to stand out and drive conversions and, for the platforms, it is a great way to generate additional revenue. 

In this way, conversational, retail advertising offers brands the opportunity to reach consumers at the right time in a relevant environment. The challenge is to use the best tools and optimum creativity to excite or to help the customer, and to enable them to find the most relevant product quickly and easily. As the holiday season approaches, it’s all to play for.