How Real-time Communication APIs are helping Brands innovate Commerce! ---- 7 min read
The answer for many businesses—especially those competing for e-commerce dominance in their industries—lies in the integration of Communication APIs into their platforms to build real time engagement features.
By integrating APIs to build real-time communication features, organizations are offering their customers the convenience to engage with them, which results in better profit and more sales. For any business to be successful, interaction between their sellers and customers is crucial. Real-time features help both the parties to work in close association for optimal returns.
This is particularly valuable during the era of COVID-19, wherein companies all across the globe are relying on remote ways of getting in touch with their customers.
“APIs or Application Programming Interface are the building blocks that serve as intermediaries to allow two applications to talk to each other and transfer information between them”.
Communication APIs bring a new level of data sharing and connectivity to applications regardless of their data structures and technology platforms. APIs have proven to be extremely impactful in helping brands innovate commerce. Let’s explore how you can leverage real-time communication APIs to grow your business.
Real-time Communication features for Commerce Apps
1-to-1 & Group Chat
Adding rich messaging and powerful chat features to an existing platform helps boost audience engagement and sales conversions.
It is an effective way to begin to establish your company’s service offerings and set the foundations for earning your user’s trust. Real-time chat communication helps visitors clear their questions about product & service features, shipping costs, delivery times, return policy, etc which in return aids in closing more sales for the e-commerce portal.
1-to-1 & Group chat can include the following:
- Real-time communication with an influencer, celebrity, or an employee
- Live chat with the seller
- Product discussion between buyers
Features like Typing Indicators, Read Receipts, Online Presence Indicators, Emoticons & Media Sharing further helps a shopping portal in keeping the customer engaged and fuel the brand-customer relationship.
Read more: How Good Chat Experiences create Trust
1-to-1 & Group Video Call
Product demonstrations via 1-to-1 or group video call are likely to shorten the buying journey of customers.
Adding video call features into your commerce platform gives you the opportunity to offer rich, tangible product specific content that solves customer problems.
With ready to integrate communication APIs, Video calling features can be easily implemented into any existing application, allowing businesses to leverage the functionality to improve their metrics.
Live Video Broadcasts with Open Chat
It was in 2014 that the Chinese e-commerce platform Mogujie started experimenting with the concept of combining live streaming and e-commerce. Alibaba’s Taobao soon followed the trend and empowered farmers, business owners, and self-employed entrepreneurs with live streaming. Alibaba brought this practice to Southeast Asia and Russia. Now Wayfair and Amazon are using livestream sessions to draw in their customers too.
With live broadcasting, customers can easily access product information and also see product tests that would be hard to try at home. This level of information sharing and gathering provides a massive boost in converting viewers to customers. It also adds an important entertainment factor to the e-commerce platforms.
With the open chat feature in such live shopping events, viewers can interact and engage with event hosts in real-time, and this empowers two communication between the host and the buyers. Users get a sense of privilege by participating in such chats.
Chat APIs and SDKs can be utilized to build such engaging chat for live events, to empower interaction between sellers and buyers in the app.
Here are some engaging features that can be built using Pub/Sub events supported by communication APIs:
While the host is demonstrating the product, use of reactions or emoticons help both the host and the user to understand whether the product demonstration is achieving its target or not. Live Reactions also amplify the fun-factor.
One can increase viewer engagement during an event by opening polls through live chat. This feature allows inserting questions during the event for viewers to respond. This can be used to gather feedback from viewers based on the answers submitted by the viewers.
Real-time Draw Events
Events like lottery draws, scratch and win games etc initiated via real-time communication can be the best way to grow your audience and get them engaged.
All these features can be built using Pub/Sub messaging and these help in adding engagement to the whole commerce experience. Channelize.io also provides enterprise-ready pub/sub messaging.
Engagement analytics show the trend when customer engagement is the highest and the lowest. You can also gather information about buyer engagement.
This allows you to get an insight into relevant metrics like chat queries, viewer numbers, customer engagement, and behaviors which can help you to identify more clearly how your customers behave, their habits and preferences. This gives you the chance to assess which aspects of your chats, calls and broadcasts you may need to change for future. This, in turn, will help you in refining your overall content and strategy.
Also read: Impact of Messages Reactions
Media & Document Sharing
This feature provides customers and buyers with the same documents that you share in-person, such as product brochures, agendas, and presentations. Sharing these in real-time can help showcase your product in the right light.
Sharing of product brochures via chat can be a perfect ally to marketing and lead nurturing.
Real-time Communication and Direct-to-Consumer Brands
Two types of technologies have really helped brands overcome the challenges possessed by the post covid-19 business environment, and these are:
- Real-time communication
- E-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, etc.
With real-time communication, direct-to-consumer brands can provide personalized experiences to consumers online. Communication APIs help such brands overcome the distance barrier. They can promote a product or service straight to their target customers, and engage with them in real-time, by-passing intermediary channels such as third-party retailers.
The new-age ecommerce platforms allow businesses to own their entire purchase journey, rather than just the product, and hence this trend is picking up speed in 2020. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, etc have been leveraging this efficient retail strategy because of the following reasons :
- By allowing customers to engage with you directly, you’re proving yourself as an authentic brand
- By removing external parties involved, you can focus more budget on your own brand communications and offerings
Use Cases of Real-time Communication for Commerce
Real-time communication is a more direct form of communication with your audience. You can use it for brand building and creating a human connection with your target customers. Like for example, adding features like flash sales in ongoing sessions may yield a lot of sales conversions due to the fear of missing out (FOMO) and the sense of urgency.
Here are some of the use cases of real-time communication in online commerce:
Allowing a popular influencer to take over a brand’s live session is a great way to amplify the sense of excitement within the viewers and give a human face to a brand. An influencer or brand advocate can interact in real time with many customers at a time and can keep the customers hooked on to a platform.
Chat groups for varied brand related topics can enhance the brand’s image and present a consumer friendly face.
Buyer to Seller / Service Provider Chat
Online marketplaces where there are multiple service providers and sellers, can help each one of them provide good services, if the marketplace provides direct communication with customers. In-app Chat platforms help build such communication channels, which are seamlessly integrated with the order flows via Chat API, SDKs and Webhooks.
Customer Support Chat
One of the best ways to use real-time communication is to help resolve customer concerns. Allowing your support agents to reach out to customers in real-time, humanizes, and individualizes the whole process.
With open live chat in live product demos, viewers could ask questions and get answers through real-time chatting without having to go through the customer service ticketing system. Users who tune into live shopping sessions can leave comments, or submit feedback via chat.
Read more : A Guide to Integrate Chat in your Website
Face-to-face conversations with customers
Face-to-face interaction via video calls is the most effective way to sell someone your product. Conducting a walk-through or product demo via 1-1 customer calls can gauge the true reactions of a prospect, hence allowing you to address the hurdles more personally.
Various types of products, from real-estate to automobiles, fashion to technology, insurance policies to gym memberships, and a lot more can be sold over video calls.
A high level of personalization in the virtual world is only achievable through video calls, wherein the customers get access to learn more about product material, sizing, and product functionality remotely.
Product Demos, Launches, and Endorsements over Live Broadcasts
Launching a product or filming a product demo over a live session is not just a way to streamline the sales but it also provides several other benefits:
- Product launches via real-time communication modes can easily be turned into several other marketing formats, like a flash sale, a brand awareness event, etc.
- Product or Service demonstration in real-time can be supplemented by product trials, brand announcements, and giveaways.
With real-time communication becoming more ubiquitous, tech giants and companies are regressively adopting innovative solutions to take advantage of real-time communications to increase engagement and sales.
It has become a vital digital property for various eCommerce platforms that allow customers to directly interact with sellers and purchase items in real-time. There is no surprise that companies, whether big or small, are trying to integrate real-time communication platforms in their eCommerce business.
The Chat APIs and SDKs you choose to integrate into your platform will impact your product outcomes in several ways. Hence a platform that ensures security and privacy of the sensitive information exchanged between the sellers and buyers apart from offering real-time chat and live video experiences will be best suited for your platform.