A transaction needs to be a conversation

What is the right user interface for a commerce transaction?

On one side when you walk to a physical store in countries such as India, a personal shopper greets you, asks you what you are looking for, shows you items, gets your feedback from your facial, speech reactions and comes up with more items. Your personal shopper will make sure you complete the transaction by engaging you in an active conversation. Let us call this experience conversational experience.

On the other side we have sites such as Amazon, eBay (Disclosure: I worked at eBay and Amazon. They are great companies with really smart people. I have learnt a lot from everyone I worked with.), which have rich information about the inventory. To purchase an item, you first figure out a search term, look at the search results, refine your search query, look at more items, select an item, read the description, browse more merchandizing and then finally purchase an item. The onus is on the customer to figure out that special merchandize he would love from millions of items. Let us call this experience the status quo.

The status quo experience was invented in 1990’s, when the internet browser was the biggest distribution vehicle and the pioneers in the space had to figure out a way to constrain their ideas into what was possible in HTML. This experience worked for 25 years and made the ecommerce possible.

Can we simplify a transaction and make it easy for the shopper? Has the technology improved to revisit the experience of the status quo? My answer is yes. With the advancements in Deep Learning, Speech recognition and growth of Mobile commerce, Messaging Apps, I feel that it is the time to move from the status quo to the conversational experience.

In the next sequence of posts, I will write articles about the technologies involved for helping businesses with the transition.