Consumers have gravitated toward shopping digitally over recent years, so they can shop whenever and wherever they want. In the past, traditional web-based e-Commerce platforms facilitated these interactions.
Customers today, however, are making purchases on social media, mobile apps and even gaming consoles. In addition, customers would prefer to pay for goods and services they love via text messaging channels they already use.
It may seem futuristic or even niche, but according to an Ipsos Technical Paper published by Google, almost eight out of 10 people would like to buy products using text messaging. And about seven in 10 (72%) customers would buy online if they could ask questions in real-time. Shopping this way has become known as “Conversational Commerce,” or e-Commerce facilitated by conversational technology and channels.
And it works: brands generate significantly more revenue when they allow customers to shop and pay how they want. Customers want to shop on all the messaging apps they frequent most often, such as:
- Apple Messages (using Apple Messages for Business or SMS)
- Android Messages (using Google’s Business Messages or SMS)
- Facebook Messenger
Why Text Messaging?
Texting is arguably the most ingrained modern communication method we have. As a society, we’ve grown comfortable with always having our smartphones by our side. How many times throughout the day do you send or respond to text messages? If you’re like me, probably more often than you’re calling or answering via voice. Research shows 66% of Americans check their phones 160 times every day. 285 million people are also estimated to own a smartphone by 2023. Therefore, enabling payment by texting is a natural first step for brands to take in enabling conversational commerce.
There are strong reasons why many people prefer texting. Text messaging is convenient and your texts don’t go to voicemail if you are busy. They sit there waiting for you. It’s a two-way conversation that isn’t timebound. It is also known as asynchronous messaging and it’s a way of communicating that fits into our busy, daily lives.
The bottom line is companies who implement payments by text messaging stand to gain a competitive edge by catering to customer preference. In fact, it’s predicted that 54% of all e-Commerce sales will take place from a mobile device in 2021.
How Is Text a Secure Payment Channel?
The ability of retailers to accept secure payments via text is a game-changer. It not only aligns with consumer preference, but it drives convenience and efficiency. However, secure is the operative word here.
Text messaging channels have not been certified as PCI compliant, so brands need to host payment functionality on a secure, encrypted third-party platform. It is why my company, Quiq introduced secure payments in our cross-channel Conversational AI platform. Quiq Payments bridges the gap between a conversational interaction with a consumer on text messaging and a brand’s back-office payments and order fulfillment systems.
Customer privacy is essential for buyers, but getting security right is just as important for brands. Talk to any contact center leader, and they’ll likely tell you it is better if agents never have access to any credit card information. This is a big reason why Quiq payments over text messaging are preferable since the payment is completed securely in the background without the agent having access to sensitive information.
Humans or Bots?
Up until now, we haven’t talked about who or what is interacting with a consumer. It could be a human agent, a bot, or a combination of both. For example, a consumer could be helped by a bot to determine the type of product desired, seamlessly transitioned to a human agent to answer questions about the product, and then finally complete the purchase with a bot that handles the check-out and payment via text.
By using conversational AI to automate a portion of the consumer’s purchase journey, brands can offer a rich interactive experience that is more personalized than a website, while still enjoying a similar cost per transaction.
How Paying by Text Works.
Let’s say one of your customers visits your website on their mobile phone and clicks a button that opens the messaging app on their phone and sends a text message to start a conversation.. It’s routed to one of your agents via a conversational platform like Quiq. The agent helps the customer and when it is time to pay, the agent can send a request for payment, whether it’s to help the customer pay their monthly bill, complete a guided shopping experience, or simply buy something on your website more conveniently.
Here’s an example flow of what that looks like:
- A customer sends a text message to your business.
- The text comes through to one of your agents working on their computer.
- The customer wants to know if there is a balance on their account.
- First, the agent verifies the customer’s identity by texting a sign-in link.
- The customer signs into their account via the link, which the agent can see is successful.
- The agent sees there is a $25 balance due and asks if the customer wants to pay that now.
- The customer texts in the affirmative.
- At this point, the agent creates a request for payment on their end for the $25 and sends it.
- Depending upon the messaging channel being used, the customer receives a special message or a link. For example, on Apple Messages for Business, payment requests are sent as special Apple Pay messages in which the customer just has to confirm like they would when using Apple Pay in a store. If a messaging channel doesn’t support native payments, Quiq will send a link that uses our payments framework to securely make the payment using the business’s existing payment processor.
- On your agent’s side, they see no payment details at all—just that the payment has been made.
Brands are realizing the power of using new channels as sales opportunities. Many are experimenting with text messaging. I believe the future of e-Commerce is conversational and will belong to companies who embrace how their customers want to pay. The ability for consumers to pay via messaging channels shouldn’t be a nice extra; it should be part of every brand’s e-Commerce business strategy moving forward.
By Mike Myer, CEO of Quiq.com