(This article is also available in Vietnamese)
As the ongoing pandemic situation has shut down doors and minimized daily interactions among people, the need to be conversational has become more crucial than ever.
For businesses, this presents the opportunity to start and maintain meaningful conversations with consumers to not only remain resilient amid these challenging times but also help spreading positivity and hopes within the society. Truthfully, businesses from all over the world have realized the indispensability of Conversational Commerce (CC) way before the COVID-19 crisis, yet these past months have forced them to truly assess and transform the way they do commerce to adapt to the new normal.
On this topic, Advertising Vietnam is honored to have Mr. Nguyen Tuong Huy, Regional Country Lead Growth Businesses in South East Asia at Facebook, Mr. Nguyen Dong Duy - Performance Digital Marketing Leader at PNJ, and Mr. Nguyen Ty - CEO & Co-Founder of AhaChat in our Roundtable, titled “Conversation Commerce: How businesses can be more conversational and win customers in time of pandemic”.
For businesses, being conversational means that we are going an extra mile in learning the needs and wants of customers, therefore improving products and services through feedbacks. CC is a two-way, interactive and constructive process between brands and customers. By initiating a chat, each party embarks on a discovery journey.
Defining CC, Mr. Nguyen Huy Tuong shared: “Conversational Commerce (CC) simply means establishing and maintaining meaningful conversations between sellers and buyers, utilizing the chat function via messaging or e-commerce platforms, which may result in buyers’ purchasing decisions. Certainly, the purchase is just one goal of CC, because more than that, we should aim for other long-term goals such as brand awareness and preference, which will encourage people to come back, repeat purchases and become loyal customers”.
Conversation Commerce: How businesses can be more conversational and win customers in time of pandemic.
In a study conducted by Facebook partnering with BCG in 2019 surveying 8,864 people across 9 countries, including 1,310 respondents from Vietnam, Vietnam was found to be the 2nd most advanced CC market, with 2nd highest CC influence and purchase penetration amongst assessed markets. Among surveyed Vietnamese users, 36% making a purchase via chat, and 53% using chat along their buying journey. This trend was expected to grow, as 95% of CC buyers in Vietnam planned to maintain or even increase their CC spending in the future.
Commented on the need for CC in order to connect and timely respond to consumers amid the pandemic, Ms. Ty Nguyen, CEO & Co-Founder of bot platform AhaChat said: “The biggest challenge for businesses, today is to maintain connections and care for customers on a large scale. The root of this challenge is that all businesses, though big or small, are lacking time and human resources, or have to accept a huge cost for these resources to solve the challenge. Imagine your business has to take care of thousands of customers across various channels like Chat, Email, SMS, then lots of resources will be needed, not to mention customers’ demand for immediate response. In light of this pandemic, businesses also find difficulty in boosting sales as customers may consider their financial conditions and refrain from spending. Therefore, it is time to focus on strengthening connections and customer care service, waiting for the pandemic to ease and customers are coming back”.
The pandemic has indeed urged more shoppers to go online, yet CC is not accelerated merely by changes in consumption habits but by the growth of discovery-based shopping. Consumers’ increased online presence in general and on messaging platforms, in particular, give businesses the chance to interact with them in real-time, with high levels of personalization.
Last June, Facebook has commissioned an online study of 433 people aged 18-55 in Vietnam who made a purchase via chat in the past 1 month at the time of the study, carried out by Decision Lab. It was found that half of the consumers make purchases via chat at least once a week. For Hanoi and HCMC, the rate is at 58%, which is notably higher than the rest of Vietnam. 64% of consumers said that the main reason for them to make purchases via chat was to grab detailed information, while 61% highlighted a more personalized consultation as the key driver for their chat purchases. CC is also preferred to E-commerce, as 55% of consumers enjoyed its faster response, while 49% of consumers highlighted the simplicity in the purchasing process.
CC is not accelerated merely by changes in consumption habits but the growth of discovery-based shopping. (Source: nativeMsg)
Mr. Nguyen Huy Tuong attributed this phenomenon to the power of messaging: “In fact, messaging can be seen as the key driver behind the dramatic transformation of CC, typically in light of the pandemic. While e-Commerce simply means searching and purchasing through a site, where people are limited in finding the products they already know they want, discovery commerce - empowered by messaging, allows the product itself to find people so people can discover the things they are most likely to love about it and make the decision”.
More importantly, customers have a chance to interact with businesses via messaging apps from the start to the end of their purchase journey. The study also found out that consumer-merchant interaction is most important in the ‘Consideration stage’, as 59% of surveyed consumers wanted to chat when considering or researching information about a product, while 66% of consumers are willing to keep in touch with the merchants after the purchase. Besides buying, consumers want to receive updates about promotions and new products or services, and Facebook Messenger is by large their most favorite channel to receive these updates.
Surveys from Facebook have shown that 2 out of 3 Vietnamese CC buyers discovered CC through social media. Facebook’s study last June further confirmed that Facebook Messenger and E-commerce are the two most popular channels for CC, agreed by 85% and 68% of respondents respectively.
Instagram Direct and Livestream are also rising channels. 61% of online shoppers make purchases through Instagram Direct at least once a week, while 60% of consumers make chat purchases via Livestream with the same frequency.
“I’m proud to say that we have built and been continuously improving a strong ecosystem for CC. The truth is, social media plays a key role in CC, in which, Facebook Family of Apps are among the most popular and potential channels for CC in Vietnam”, shared Mr. Huy Tuong.
61% and 60% of online shoppers make purchases through Instagram Direct and Livestream at least once a week, respectively. (Source: Wowza)
In the case of AhaChat, one of the largest platforms operating on Messenger in Vietnam and a trusted partner of Facebook, its bot platform has allowed SMEs to communicate, market, sell and provide care to customers, all via Facebook Messenger. After 3 years since its launch in 2017, the number of bots reached hundreds of thousands, helping businesses gain momentum in the age of CC.
“Many people do not realize how attractive Messenger is. We are talking about the open rate from 80 to 90% and CTR from 20%, even 50% sometimes. It’s safe to say that at this moment, marketing through Messenger is 10 times more effective than through email. In the future, Messenger will be the core for 80% of businesses’ communications with customers, taking the share of email, web, mobile/smartphone apps and SMS marketing. We have been putting efforts to accelerate that transition through launching new features that are effective and easy to use, helping businesses optimize this channel”, explained Ms. Ty Nguyen.
Bot platform Ahachat. (Source: AhaChat)
Mr. Huy Tuong concluded by sharing about two success cases from Facebook’s Vietnamese partners: beverage company PepsiCo Vietnam and luxe beauty company La Roche-Posay Vietnam. PepsiCo Vietnam achieved a 1.6x increase in return on ad spend from online revenue by leveraging Click to Messenger ads and Chatbot.
Meanwhile, La Roche-Posay Vietnam has utilized Messenger and its comment entry feature to quickly and easily interact with shoppers during Facebook Live events. Implementing the formula that involved Facebook Live, Comment Entry Tool and Click to Messenger Ads, the brand generated a 2.7x increase in sales, 77% increase in add-to-cart and 1.8x increase in return on ad spend.
In the past few years, PNJ has accelerated innovations such as messaging tools and solutions to become more digitally savvy. Like any other provider of non-essential products, PNJ is prepared for a scenario like this to a certain degree, aiming to utilize social media as the key driving factor for market growth and online sales boosting.
Initially, PNJ set out to find a way to provide information about products online to customers amid the pandemic. As CC is now adopted throughout Vietnam, PNJ decided to work with a local agency to build an automated experience on Messenger titled Charmy.
PNJ’s automated experience on Messenger is titled Charmy.
“To boost awareness of the communications channel, we ran a campaign of ads that click to Messenger. The campaign used video ads, photo ads in carousel format, and dynamic ads showcasing the premium line of products. To understand the impact that Messenger conversations had on sales, we also used the Facebook pixel to measure online sales, and the offline conversion API to measure in-store purchases. By launching Charmy, we were able to answer customer questions about products quickly and efficiently”, shared Mr. Nguyen Dong Duy, Performance Digital Marketing Leader at PNJ.
Incorporating conversational commerce helped increase both online and offline sales between September and October 2020, with a 138x return on ad spend (online and offline sales combined), a 10% conversion rate from Messenger to a successful transaction, and a total of 17,000 conversations generated during the campaign. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, our company’s online number grew by more than 400% over the same period.
Mr. Duy commented: “The automated experience for Messenger we brought to customers turned out to be a great success and proved that it is possible to sell high-end products via conversational commerce! Therefore, despite the impact of COVID-19, PNJ is still confident to set targets in 2021 to reach more than VND21 trillion of net revenue and over VND1.2 trillion of net profit, increasing 20% and 15% respectively compared to 2020”.
Summarizing the discussion, Mr. Huy Tuong provides business with 4 key takeaways on how businesses can leverage conversational commerce to enhance performance:
1/ Provide fast, detailed and personalized information to customers in a professional manner. Prepare in advance answers for customers’ frequently asked questions.
2/ Offer multiple payment options to cater to customers’ diverse preferred payment methods.
3/ Ensure that your ads stay true to your products and services, and timely update your customers with all promotions, new products or services, or free delivery policy.
4/ Take advantage of Facebook’s Unified Inbox, or an FBP’s inbox management service to better manage incoming conversations from various sources effectively. Explore Instagram Direct and Livestream and their capability to help initiate meaningful conversations with customers.
Thank you for sharing with Advertising valuable insights to help businesses in Vietnam make the most out of CC and strengthen relationships with customers!