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The App Edit: why conversational commerce is overtaking the app
Tue, 20th Sep 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

When it comes to reducing clutter, our wardrobe is the first place that comes to mind, and it’s the starting point decluttering gurus recommend.

Overflowing wardrobes highlight the 80:20 principle: that we only wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. We might fill our closets with options, but it’s our familiar favourites we return to time and time again. 

The same principle applies to the mobile apps on our smartphones; more than half of installed apps remain unused. The average person has 40 apps installed on their phone. However, users split a whopping 89% of their time between just 18 apps. Like those leopard print trousers we convinced ourselves we would wear one day, our smartphones are a digital wardrobe in need of a clear-out. 

While branded apps may have been all the rage five years ago, the fad has proven to be a flash in the pan. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of customer service organisations will have abandoned their native mobile apps in favour of omnichannel messaging to deliver a better customer experience.

Customers taking a capsule approach to apps

Consumers appear to be suffering choice fatigue and are reducing the time spent across different apps. People favour a small selection of quality items in their wardrobe, and they’re taking the same approach with their apps. 

Marie Kondo embraces a holistic approach to tackling clutter, inspiring thousands of people to discover the joy of less with her minimalist approach.

"We can discover joy by containing the chaos and freeing ourselves of excesses," says Marie.

People are taking note. One in every two apps is uninstalled within just 30 days of being downloaded. As a result, businesses are losing around $57,000 per month. Trying to convert customers away from their preferred channels is a costly business; add in the investment required to maintain apps, and the allure of a brand app wanes even more. 

Now more than ever, delivering customer communications through popular existing channels is a must. Rather than trying to tempt users away from their favoured apps, it’s time to meet them where they are – brand apps need to be the perfect accessory, rather than trying to be a fashion statement that won’t last. 

While the most sought-after real estate is on customers’ smartphones, companies must look through the lens of individual customers to decide what is engaging and convenient. Just like fashion, what suits one customer may not suit another. 

For example, research shows that the majority of users prefer using WhatsApp and chat apps as their preferred channel of communication, compared to social media or in-app messaging. For Xennials (aged 35 to 44) and Gen Xers (45 to 54), email remains a preferred choice. This move toward digitally led communications will continue to gain speed, and brands must prioritise an omnichannel strategy that incorporates every applicable channel, allowing them to build a lasting connection.

Powering the perfect ensemble – vertically and horizontally 

Moving away from apps doesn’t mean abandoning innovation or giving up on digital transformation – quite the opposite. No two customers are exactly alike; to match heightened expectations, we can’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. To craft great experiences, you need a clear picture of your customers. You need to know who they are, how they’ve engaged with you in the past and what they are interested in right now. 

The future of commerce lies in conversation. We are moving into an environment called conversational commerce, where you can do anything with a brand with just a conversation. Armed with the memory of every interaction and the ability to utilise AI to learn over time, conversational commerce can help businesses create exceptional personalised customer experiences.  

We are on the cusp of the conversational commerce movement that could evolve in two ways: through digitally progressive industries and customer journeys. The recent launch of a Dior WhatsApp chatbot is one example where an industry – in this case, the luxury beauty sector – has leveraged technology and conversational commerce to deliver innovative experiences across channels. 

The next wave would be to create memorable experiences throughout the customer journey from authentication and activation to purchase, providing a seamless end-to-end experience for the end customer. 

Simplifying consumer conversations

Creating loyal, long-term customers requires capturing consumers’ attention and serving them in places convenient to them. Apps may have been the fashionable choice five years ago, but a simple conversation today is far more attractive to customers and more sustainable for brands. 

Companies keen to start this journey have the first-mover advantage on their side. By beginning the experimentation process now, they can take the time to learn what works best for their business and adapt along the way.