Trend Alert: Chat commerce

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

Chat commerce, also known as conversational commerce, is already a trend in the luxury sector and the Chinese market. Now, marketers are waking up to its power to turn customers into brand loyalists.

The concept of chat commerce brings shopping into a personal online space, the messaging inbox. By creating chatbots for apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage, retailers are able to offer the modern equivalent of a personal shopping service. They provide a curated, interactive selection of recommended products, and conveniently allow the user to make a purchase without leaving the app.

Chat commerce replicates the experience of chatting to a trusted friend or family member, and its effectiveness can be connected to the rise of micro and nano influencers. In a time when consumers are bombarded with ads across social platforms, a more friendly, personalised experience encourages a more positive, relaxed relationship with a brand. Retailers are even extending the conversation by asking for customer feedback, so the purchase is no longer the end of the relationship.

The trend is already well established in China, where consumers are comfortable making purchases through messaging apps such as WeChat and Line. In the UK, fashion startup Threads has attracted attention for their chat commerce service, which has a focus on luxury brands targeting Millennials. For those who are used to shopping for luxury brands, personal shopping is a familiar concept. For the typical young consumer, its convenience and personalised offering will be the appealing factors.

ASOS experimented with a styling chatbot last year when they launched Enki, which serves up a tailored selection of products based on past purchases. However, it’s still necessary to visit the ASOS site to complete a purchase. Once they make the process simple and seamless, brands like ASOS will be able to capitalise on the chat commerce trend to generate more impulse buys, and strengthen their bond with the customer.

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