In 2016, we are finally starting to take conversational commerce seriously. The continuously evolving digital landscape is changing our entire thought process as business models adapt to fit the increasing demands of the modern consumer.
We have already stopped talking about Showrooming vs. Webrooming after realizing that they can compliment each other rather than compete. Meanwhile, the rise of personalization feeds our insatiable desire for instant gratification.
Mobile shopping app Spring has already learned the changing habits of how consumers shop. After scaling their list of brand partners to over 1,000, co-founder Alan Tisch has earned the right to be optimistic about the future. Last year's series B funding added an additional $25 million for the shopping app along with a $90 million valuation.
Having a mobile shopping mall in your pocket where all you have to do is swipe your finger across the screen to purchase clothes has obvious appeal. By only entering your credit-card details, address and clothing size once, Spring can build on the one-click buying ethos made famous by Amazon.
Humans are by nature, social animals. By contrast, our digital world often prevents communication, and this infuriates customers. A website automatically removes the lost art of face to face conversation.
So why do so many businesses then add generic marketing message from a 'do not reply' email address or a phone line with 23 different options into the mix?
The increasing expectation of getting an instant response was picked up by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. At the F8 Developer Conference this year he advised: "No one enjoys calling a business, or installing a new app for every business or service they want to interact with, people should be able to message a business in the same way you'd message a friend."
As our attention and patience levels continue to dwindle, retailers are turning to chatbots to enhance the customer experience. The quest for meaningful engagement to deliver personalized customer interactions is rapidly becoming the new currency.
Chatbots should not be confused as just another support channel. They are paving they way to a new destination where customers can browse or purchase items. The concept of answering a handful of innocuous questions on Facebook Messenger to be then directed to an item you are looking for was an experiment that Sprint were proud to be a part of.
Chatbot platforms are still in the early stages, and although the results are encouraging, there is clearly still significant room for improvement. It's not until advances in machine learning help bots develop a deeper understanding of natural human language will the real progress begin.
Microsoft's disastrous Tay experiment illustrated how the hidden dangers of AI are not about the rise of the machines. But, the users themselves.
The ease of shopping from over one thousand brands inside one app could be seen as a major factor in the 20% growth month over month for Spring. But, we shouldn't underestimate users fatigue around mobile applications.
Rather than having subfolders full of lifestyle apps on the second page of our smartphones, we are turning to a mobile marketplace of brands through one direct channel. Maybe, this is Spring's secret recipe to success.
Creating a brand-centric experience from all the big fashion names without having any inventory fits perfectly with the Uber, Airbnb, and Alibaba trend. It would seem that the rule book along and business models of the past increasingly have little relevance in the digital marketplace.
On my podcast, I chatted with Spring founder Alan Tisch about the future of conversational commerce. We discuss how Chatbots, machine learning, and AI are all become more sophisticated. But it's personalization and fewer apps on our smartphones that will enhance the mobile shopping experience.