With Australians staying home and all non-essential stores told to close up, a dire need has emerged for retailers in how they will continue to maintain business in these increasingly uncertain times. But technology looks to be the solution as it’s paving the way for companies to offer their tailored experiences to customers no matter where they are.

A way of doing that is through conversational commerce and bringing the “in-store experience” home – it’s all about bringing together messaging (live chat, AI chatbots/virtual assistants and messaging apps) into the shopping experience.  Through these channels, customers are given hands-on, personalised support, just as if they walked into a store.

Checking out a product via Facebook? You can ask questions about it right through Messenger. In addition to the accessibility, conversational commerce provides proactive tools that can help businesses intervene at critical moments. For example, when a visitor toggles back and forth between two product options or hesitates at checkout, customers are encouraged to engage and, therefore, are more likely to buy.

How do you deliver a great conversational commerce experience? Here are a few key differentiators:

1. Support multiple conversation channels

Where a website is a one-stop-shop for all customers, additional channels (Apple Business Chat, Google RCS, Facebook Messenger) help to extend your reach. Think of these like traveling salespeople. They help meet customers where they already are instead of waiting for them to reach out. And these channels are just the beginning of the conversational commerce journey – voice-based applications like Alexa and Google Home are quickly developing their place in the conversational commerce ecosystem.

2. Don’t be scared of chatbots

While some companies are setting a hardline on leveraging bots for conversational commerce, others are deploying them to assist in supporting their customers quickly and outside of normal business hours.  For those still wary about AI, modern chatbots built with Natural Language Processing, such as Bold360 can understand the intent of customers’ questions – no matter how it’s asked — making the process of interacting with chatbots easier and more effective than ever before. In addition, AI-powered assistants are also helping agents behind the scenes by quickly feeding them information and recommendations to help create a personalised experience in real-time. A necessity when teams are now operating remotely and without business leaders physically on standby.

 3. Avoid data silos

All too often, customer, web, commerce and conversion data all live in different systems making it impossible to see the full customer journey. By breaking down data silos, companies can understand both the individual customers and the experience at a macro-level to help inform strategy shifts.

Creating personalised customer experiences has always been a key to success – and why so many of us still frequent our same, favourite stores. Bringing that same strategy to the digital world through conversational commerce is helping companies of all sizes create a competitive advantage.  Whether the goal is to make a splash in the market or just simply better compete with industry behemoths – being able to engage with customers where they spend their time creates an opportunity to engage with them when, where and how they want. By embracing technology and strategies like conversational commerce, businesses will be able to more confidently meet challenges presented today and be better equipped for the future of customer service.

Lindsay Brown is Vice President of LogMeIn for Japan and APAC