Meeting consumers 'where they are' means embracing chat
We could be entering a period of ubiquitous "chat." It will be interesting to see how chat evolves to become the context in which not just conversations, but purchases take place.
As chatbots grow in number, voice-controlled personal assistants and messaging apps increase their dominance. I expect to see rapid acceleration for in-chat or in-conversation purchasing. People are spending more and more time in messaging applications, while the messaging applications themselves are ever-expanding the functionality of what can be done within them. Merchants need to be visible and transactable where their customers already are.
The time spent on mobile messaging apps quadrupled between 2015 and 2016. Compare this to the time spent on shopping apps, which grew by only around a third (according to Flurry Analytics). Messaging will enable and drive the next wave of commerce, which we believe will be "in context" commerce.
Consumers are already impatient with slow load times and customer journeys requiring too many clicks/taps, hurting conversion.
As we live in the midst of exponential change, it is almost impossible to predict what the world will look like in the next few years. But there are a couple of consistent trends.
Boundaries between industries are blurring with the continuous growth of platforms and marketplaces, and not insignificant efforts from businesses to diversify and grow incremental revenue. Digital technologies have enabled new business models and created new revenue streams, often in unexpected ways.
Take Skyscanner, for example. Skyscanner was once the meta search engine; now it's the buying platform for flights. What once would have been an immensely complex financial arrangement and technical integration between the platform, the flight operators and their legacy platforms, is made simple, resulting in a sophisticated front-end checkout, enhanced back-end acceptance and payment forwarding technology.
We'll no doubt see an increasing number of unexpected business partnerships that will result in user capabilities that will make us wonder what we ever did before. The ability to share financial information between businesses in a secure and compliant fashion will be key here, because this is what will enable businesses to leverage each other's customer bases for mutual faster growth.