Breaking the Ice with Conversational Commerce

The way we interact with one another has shifted dramatically over the past decade. From SMS messages to Snapchats of life’s precious moments, people are now communicating in a variety of different ways — and that’s a very good thing for companies that are looking to place their brand at the center of where conversations are happening.

Conversational apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat are so popular as of late that they have actually surpassed social networks for monthly active users. And while personal use is the biggest reason to use these apps, there is also a very practical commerce aspect as well.

For years, consumers have reached out to brands on social media to get the information they need to make intelligent purchasing decisions. But recently, there have been some particularly lucrative technological breakthroughs that have both shoppers and ecommerce companies excited.

The Bot Revolution: Introducing Bcommerce

Consumers who engage with companies utilizing chatbot tech are now able to start conversations, get product information or recommendations and make purchases directly with bots without having to venture anywhere else. Once this is fully realized, it will be incredibly powerful.

Facebook isn’t the only player in the bot-insurgence. Other conversational platforms such as (but not limited to) WeChat, Kik and Slack are also forging ahead with this kind of technology. This is in addition to all the custom APIs that can be built and applied to the more mainstream social mediums.

Since the bots have risen, there have already been some interesting applications (and results). 1–800 Flowers uses its Facebook bot to either guide customers through a buying journey, or pass them on to a human representative. President Chris McCann has stated that over 70 percent of their chatbot orders have come from new customers, many of whom are of a younger demographic than they’re used to serving.

Sephora uses bot technology on Kik (which they incentivized their audience to use with a contest) to provide customers with beauty tips and makeup recommendations. Mattel has a bot that allows children to interact with Barbie. Wingstop customers can send a direct message on either Facebook or Twitter to place their order while the chatbot guides them all the way through to the checkout stage, processing the order at the customer’s nearest Wingstop location. There are certainly no shortage of brands leaping at the opportunity to leverage chatbots.

For “Bot”ter or Worse

One need not look further than the likes of Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa to understand where the state of artificial intelligence currently stands. As convenient as they are — the capabilities are still very much limited, which might be problematic for brands who value putting a personal touch on their customer service.

There’s also the notion of the technology backfiring horribly and doing more harm than good, as Microsoft learned when they unleashed their Twitter bot “Tay.”

Bots vs Humans: Who Prevails?

Final Thoughts

While there has been a lot of hype swirling around chatbots and social media, there’ve been many other developments in the realm of social and conversational commerce. Check how social media has impacted the ecommerce industry.

Originally published at www.paymotion.com on July 20, 2016.

I’m losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent. And they’re actually really, really nice. 🤙

I’m losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent. And they’re actually really, really nice. 🤙