What Is Conversational Commerce? Definition and Guide

what is conversational commerce

Conversational commerce refers to the intersection of messaging apps and shopping. This refers to the trend toward interacting with businesses through messaging and chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. Or through voice technology, like the Google Assistant, which interfaces with you through voice commands.

Consumers can chat with company representatives, get customer support, ask questions, get personalized recommendations, read reviews, and click to purchase, all from within messaging apps.

With conversational commerce, the consumer engages in this interaction with a human representative, chatbot, or a mix of both.

Using conversational AI chatbots, businesses can resolve customer service issues, provide recommendations, create wish lists, and interact with buyers in real time.

The rise of conversational commerce

Consumers are increasingly relying on messaging functionalities for all forms of communication, whether personal, business, or commerce. In fact, global spending over conversational commerce channels is expected to reach $290 billion by 2025. 

Increasingly, consumers are using chat to find and select products and services, and to complete the payment process, all without having to call, email, or even visit a brand’s website. Everything is happening within the messaging app.

Turn chats into sales with Shopify Inbox

Shopify Inbox is a free app that lets you chat with shoppers in real-time, see what’s in their cart, share discount codes, create automated messages, and understand how chats influence sales right from your Shopify admin.

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What are the features of conversational commerce?

Chat companies are now partnering with brands to make it simpler for customers to buy from them. Facebook Messenger, for example, has partnered with Uber to make it possible for customers to order an Uber driver without leaving the messaging app—the conversation. 

Amazon’s Echo—a voice-activated tool—has partnered with Capital One so that the bank’s customers can inquire about their balance, make a payment, or check recent transactions, all through Echo.

Not only is conversational commerce simpler for consumers who, thanks to messaging apps, no longer need to toggle back and forth between text conversations and websites to gather information and make purchases, but it’s also a step closer to the attention you might get from a sales associate in the store. 

When ordering from a website, you can read reviews to get a sense of whether a new product will work for you, but using chat you can ask for help comparing your options—more like the advice you would receive in-store.

Reducing the steps required, and the number of information sources consumers need to turn to, shortens the distance between prospect and purchase.

Types of conversational commerce


Chatbots are computer programs that use natural language processing and artificial intelligence to simulate customer conversations. They are used to provide customer service, provide product recommendations, and answer questions throughout the customer journey.

Voice commerce

Voice commerce is a form of conversational commerce that allows customers to make purchases through voice-activated services like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Siri.

Social messaging apps

Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat are increasingly being used on ecommerce websites. Customers can use these platforms to ask questions, make purchases, and receive product recommendations. 

Text message marketing 

Text message marketing allows businesses to send messages to customers via SMS. These messages can be used to promote products, offer discounts, and provide customer service.

How to start with conversational commerce

1. Choose a conversational commerce platform 

There are many chat platforms to choose from, including Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Pick a platform that your customers already use and that fits your business model.

One platform to try is Shopify Inbox. It’s a free messaging platform that lets you chat with customers as they shop across many channels. Our data shows that 70% of Inbox conversations are shoppers ready to buy. 

shopify inbox for conversational commerce

Shopify Inbox has many use cases: 

  • Turn on chat and track results with a seamless workflow in the Shopify admin.
  • Manage conversations from online store chat, Shop app, Instagram, and Messenger.
  • Quickly understand who customers are with profile and shopping cart details.
  • Send product recommendations, cross-selling opportunities, photos, and discounts without leaving the chat.
  • Automate greetings, contact capture, and FAQs to save you and your buyers time. 

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2. Define your conversational commerce strategy

Identify your conversational commerce efforts, including what types of inquiries your bot will handle, the channels it will be active in, and the language and tone it will use. 

Also decide how your chatbot will fit into your overall sales and marketing strategy. For example, use your chatbot to help potential customers with their orders at checkout, or to promote special offers and discounts.

3. Plan a conversational flow

Conversational flow is how your chatbot talks when a human isn’t around. 

Design an easy-to-follow flow that meets your customers' needs. You can use a flow builder in your conversational commerce tool to map out the steps and questions your chatbot will ask throughout each customer touchpoint.

4. Train your chatbot

Improve the conversational abilities of your chatbot over time by leveraging AI and machine learning. Enter information about your products and services and frequently asked questions about your business. This will make your chatbot smarter and better at answering questions.

5. Test your conversational commerce solution works 

Test your chatbot before launching it to make sure it works. It should answer questions, provide relevant information, and handle customer orders and complaints.

Identify any areas where your chatbot needs improvement, and make sure it provides a positive customer experience.

Key metrics to track include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Cart abandonment rates
  • Goal completion rates
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Average response time
  • Average conversation length

Conversational commerce FAQ

What is meant by conversational commerce?

Conversational commerce is a term used to describe the use of chatbots, messaging apps, and other automation technologies to enable businesses to communicate with customers in a more natural way. It allows customers to have conversations with businesses, ask questions, and make purchases without having to go through traditional online or in-person channels.

What is the benefit of conversational commerce?

The overall benefit of conversational commerce is that it provides customers with an easier and more convenient way to shop. It enables customers to interact with online stores in a more natural and conversational way, which helps to create a better omnichannel shopping experience. Additionally, it helps online retailers increase customer satisfaction and provide businesses with valuable customer data that can be used to improve retention.

What is conversational commerce vs. social commerce?

Conversational commerce is the use of messaging apps to facilitate shopping and customer service interactions. Social commerce is the use of social media to facilitate sales of products or services.

What are examples of conversational commerce?

  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Voice assistants 
  • Messaging apps 
  • Live chat