When Chris Messina first used the term “conversational commerce” in 2015, he foresaw a future in which chat apps and conversation interfaces would redefine how we discover, evaluate and purchase goods and services online. Conversational commerce promised painless buyer journeys on computers and smartphones. The potential of mobile devices, chatbots and meaningful conversations in facilitating online shopping was clear.
At that time, the possibility of integrating a payment step into a messaging flow was discussed. With one click of the BUY button (and a vague process in the background - too complicated to think about), one could check out, directly from a conversation with a brand or e-commerce platform. Five years into the future, we can safely say that there have been great ideas and a lot of excitement about the possibilities that conversational commerce would open. But the developments and implementations in practice seemed to proceed much more slowly.
The way to a holistic framework for conversational commerce
When our sister company Infobip launched its omnichannel offering in the same year, 2015, it was the beginning of a powerful project that would enable B2C messaging, intelligent automation and engagement on the telco and internet channels. The idea was holistic, reaching far into the future.
Today, communication channels available via the Infobip platform range from A2P SMS messaging to WhatsApp, RCS and chatbots, to name a few. In combination, these channels can reach almost anyone in the world, provided that they have a mobile phone connected to a cellular network. Infobip has worked to ensure that these channels can be easily introduced into any organization, system or business process.
At the same time, Centili developed its powerful mobile payment platform. Connected with mobile network operators worldwide (and expanding), Centili was powering carrier billing payments in the traditional and new market verticals, as well as adding wallets, virtual currency and other local payment methods that were popular in the huge Asian and African markets.
Unique offering: Building blocks for a complete e-commerce journey
A few years later, with countless hours of product development under their belt, the two sister companies which have long worked side by side are now in a position to implement conversational commerce in its pure form. Owing to their global experience and deep technical knowledge, the two organizations are able to deliver a real deal - as it was envisioned in the early days when conversational commerce only existed as a concept.
The Centili-Infobip platform enables businesses to offer a true conversational payment experience, which includes reaching, engaging, and enabling customers to pay – without ever asking them to leave their preferred communication or social channel. In other words, we help companies orchestrate personalized communication via any popular channel their customers are using, and we enable purchases to be implemented as a seamless step within the flow. This makes purchases happen faster, following a customer-centric experience and resulting in greater conversion rates. Integration is quick and easy, via APIs or a web portal. It can be done without coding and go live within weeks.
Businesses can gain multiple benefits via such a platform. They can design communication via channels their customers prefer, make it timely, highly personalized, and guide it towards the frictionless payment step. When applied together, this can boost user satisfaction, conversion rates, and brand attachment.
This unique proposition is based on several key differentiators.
The combined offering of personalization, omnichannel approach and payments - all in one platform - provides a holistic framework for conversational commerce in different forms. Building blocks offered by the Infobip-Centili system are easy to combine. They are a connectivity layer which can be easily implemented into many e-commerce areas and user flows.
Infobip offers a true omnichannel experience with a portfolio that includes WhatsApp Business, Viber Business, A2P SMS, Voice, Email, Mobile App Messaging, RCS, Live Chat, Facebook Messenger and Line. This powerful collection is constantly growing, both in the number of users, supported features and integration options. With the Codeless Flow Creator, companies can create automated, multi-step customer journeys across various channels in just a few clicks. They can also create individualized profiles and in-depth audience segments with behaviour, demographics, events and habits data. Timely interactions can be created based on triggers such as customer actions, behaviours and channel preferences. Goal setting, in-depth reporting and A/B testing are on the list of capabilities as well.
Centili monetization platform was built on the in-depth industry knowledge and years of large-scale cooperation with mobile operators in the areas of carrier billing, mobile wallets and virtual currencies. Processing millions of transactions every day, it is connected to more than 280 MNOs around the globe. More recently, our platform has expanded further, to add monetization using new wallets and card payments, and even vouchers and bundling as the innovative additions to the conversational and social commerce propositions.
Conversational commerce: Use cases
Food delivery. Having scanned a QR code, the customer gets straight into the chat with a restaurant bot, saying “HI”. A menu or special offerings of the day is presented further in the messaging exchange, which takes the customer towards check out. Centili-operated payment page opens within the exchange and enables the customer to complete their purchase. QR codes can be placed on bus stops or other locations. This scenario also works well with billboard, magazine and email advertising, which can be used to prompt users to engage in messaging sessions with their favourite restaurants.
Shopping cart abandonment reduction. The chatbot is activated when there is a customer which has items in their shopping cart for several days but hasn’t gone through with the purchase. The bot guides the customer through the order. After deciding on the preferred payment method, the customer is directed to a Centili-operated payment page. Having paid for the item or service, the customer is directed back to the chatbot where they can download the invoice.
Gamers reengagement. Gaming company chatbot initiates a messaging exchange, in order to resubscribe a player or prolong their subscription. In the process, gaming companies can offer a free voucher for in-game currency as a reward. If the dormant player wants to claim their gift, they are asked to renew the subscription. They are redirected to the Centili-operated payment page to finish the payment process, he is redirected back to the chatbot and is offered to launch the game and claim the reward.