The Coming of Inbox Commerce – Part 1
Written by
Rajesh Jain
Rajesh Jain

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The Coming of Inbox Commerce – Part 1

Published : September 15, 2023

Over the past few months, there has been considerable talk about the potential of Generative AI. Generative AI promises to improve productivity and outcomes. However, in our excitement, something important has gone unnoticed. Our inboxes are becoming two-way and commerce-friendly. The shift from a communication tool to one enabling conversation and commerce will be crucial for sellers. How? By removing friction that forces buyers to click through to websites and apps for transactions

This marks a shift from ‘far’ commerce to ‘near’ commerce, bringing search, browse, and buy to our inboxes. The easier the transactions, the less brands spend on customer acquisition, increasing profitability. Several changes in our inbox are driving Inbox Commerce. These are: 

  • AMP eliminating redirects and enables the creation of mini-apps inside email.
  • SMS becoming two-way. Regulation in India keeps it one-way.
  • WhatsApp opening its platform for brand conversations. The introduction of WhatsApp Pay will make buying inside the app simpler.
  • RCS, similar to an SMS upgrade, bringing commerce and consumers closer.
  • AI-enriched product catalogs improving relevance and powering recommendations across channels.
  • Chatbots creating search and browse workflows.
  • ChatGPT showing how a search bar can become a window to everything.

Together, these innovations can change the ‘where’ of commerce. Traditionally, brands have been expected to bring buyers to their websites or apps to complete transactions. This created friction because push messages (email/SMS) had to make customers click and visit the brand website. Introducing interactivity in push channels can ensure commerce can be done directly from the inbox. 

Netcore’s AMP in email customers registered a 500-1500% increase in actions performed inside email when given the option. While engagement was the primary use case, the next step is to enable shopping. Frictionless commerce will be delivered inside your inbox once the payment layer is streamlined and embedded in messages. WeChat has done this for years in China. Now, the rest of us will experience the seamlessness of marketing and transacting from our inboxes. This could become one of the most significant milestones in e-commerce in years, if not decades. 

When I searched for ‘Inbox Commerce’ and ‘Inbox e-commerce,’ I got 15,000 results. Almost all of these were irrelevant to the topic of discussion. There has been no discussion about inbox and ecommerce. However, this is about to change. Here is ChatGPT’s definition of Inbox Commerce: 

“Inbox Commerce refers to conducting business transactions, promoting products and services, or engaging with customers directly through their inbox or messaging platforms. This helps streamline customer experience, making it more convenient by allowing users to interact and transact with businesses directly.” 

Inbox Commerce can take several forms regarding services such as WhatsApp, RCS (Rich Communication Services), 2-way SMS, and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) in email. These are:

  • Conversational Commerce – Businesses can utilize chatbots and agents to engage customers, answer queries, and help make purchases through messaging apps. This includes personalized product recommendations, support, and payment processing.
  • Promotional Messages – Companies can use messaging platforms to send promotional messages or offers to customers. These would encourage customers to purchase or learn more about the company’s products and services.
  • Transactional messages – Businesses can send order confirmation, shipping details, and payment receipts to customers via messaging apps. This helps create a unified and convenient customer experience.
  • Interactive Content – Businesses can create dynamic, interactive email content using AMP for email. This includes product carousels, forms, and interactive elements that facilitate user engagement with content and make purchases without leaving their inbox.

The importance and benefits of Inbox Commerce

Inbox Commerce’s popularity has soared because it can create a seamless and personalized customer experience. It can also increase engagement, conversion rates, and customer retention. So why is Inbox Commerce important for marketers and brands?

There are several reasons. It offers a unique and convenient avenue to interact with customers, drive sales, and build relationships. Some benefits of Inbox Commerce for marketers and brands are:

  • Convenience
  • Customers can interact with businesses, browse products, and purchase directly from their inbox or app. This increased convenience can result in greater customer satisfaction and higher conversion rates.

  • Personalization
  • Businesses can deliver personalized content based on user preferences, past interactions, and behavior. This could improve user engagement and generate higher sales.

  • Enhanced Customer Support
  • Businesses can provide real-time customer support via chatbots and live agents. This results in faster resolution and greater customer satisfaction.

  • Better Open and Engagement Rates
  • Messaging apps and email have higher open and engagement rates than traditional marketing channels. Marketing messages delivered via Inbox Commerce will likely be viewed and interacted with by customers.

  • Increased Customer Retention
  • Through inbox commerce, businesses can offer seamless and convenient shopping experiences. This fosters long-term relationships with customers and encourages repeat purchases.

  • Integration With Marketing Channels
  • Businesses can integrate Inbox Commerce with social media, websites, and apps. This creates a consistent customer journey that reinforces brand messaging and drives sales.

  • Data Driven Insights
  • Inbox Commerce allows businesses to gather data on customer behavior and preferences. This helps in crafting future marketing strategies and optimizing campaigns for better results.

    To summarize, Inbox Commerce allows marketers and brands to create a more personalized, convenient, and engaging shopping experience. This leads to higher conversion rates, increased customer loyalty, and better business performance.

    To be continued in Part 2

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    Written By: Rajesh Jain
    Rajesh Jain
    Founder and Group MD, Netcore Cloud