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Facebook lets users make purchases from brands directly through Messenger app

With the rise of chatbots providing a smooth way for customers to interact with their favorite brands, Facebook is taking things a step further by letting consumers open up a full window of products and shopping options, that are all purchasable directly through the app.

The social media giant will now let consumers who engage with brands through the Messenger app purchase products with the tap of a button. The new capability is brought about by a partnership with Shopify

“By making conversations between retailers and customers commerce-able, Shopify is enabling Facebook Messenger users to engage with retailers through a personal yet streamlined experience,” said Brian Marvin, COO and co-founder of Bringhub. “As chatbots and conversational commerce continue to grow, this is one of the first major partnerships to offer a new layer of service to retailers and consumers directly through a messaging platform.

“The brands involved will empower their customers to venture from exploration to purchase, all within a chat experience. It’s definitely an investment, however eventually people will demand to buy anything, anytime, anywhere, with the click of a button… or even just their voice.” 

Chatting and shopping
As chatbots become more popular, Shopify is encouraging users to engage with brands who are using its dedicated Shopify channel to host their chatbots in Facebook Messenger.

For brands that use Shopify’s channel, consumers can engage with them as they normally would– doing research, finding deals and browsing prices and promotions – and if the brand allows it, even make purchases directly through the app.

Shopify’s newest Messenger integration offers a variety of options

Purchases made through messaging can be automatically tracked and updated as the order is processed. The message setting allows customers to ask follow-up questions about their orders to make sure they are being delivered to the correct places.

Users simply type “shop now” and are taken to an in-app product page where they can browse the business’ goods at leisure, letting them link their credit card and make the purchase with a single tap.

Brands can also make use of Shopify’s channel to continue the conversation with consumers after the purchase is made. Brands can send follow up messages asking if the product lives up to their expectations, or to handle returns, complaints and even recommend other related products based on the consumers profile.

A versatile tool
Chatbots have been exploding in popularity recently, especially as the capabilities of messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger continue to expand.

Even with increasing storage space on today’s mobile devices, brands still compete for a spot on a users’ phone when it comes to apps. As apps pull ahead of the mobile Web in terms of time spent and transactions made, it is important for brands to not lose touch with their mobile users.

Chatbots offer a way around this problem by offering a seamless way for brands to connect with customers in a discrete space without the need for the consumer to download a unique app. Instead, they can just open their messaging app, type in the name of the brand they are looking for and begin the interaction.

Retale recently launched a similar product, RetaleBot, that lets users speak directly to the chatbot to find deals at nearby retailers (see story). But those deals are meant to be followed up on in-store and do not offer an opportunity to be fulfilled in-app.

Similarly, other brands have been using chatbots for purely marketing purposes, such as Starbucks’ use of a chatbot in the persona of an anthropomorphized Pumpkin Spice Latte (see story).

Chatbots are a versatile tool, and with the addition of in-app purchasing capabilities, they will become even more so.

“The connected generation is reliant on messaging,” Mr. Marvin said. “With ‘chatting’ as a preferred mode of communication, it’s vital for brands to engage and connect with target audiences via messengers and chatbots.

“Contextual commerce continues to revolutionize the online shopping experience, as it not only applies to a consumer’s favorite website, but to chat, A/R, IoT, and apps as well. Instead of relying on consumers to shop through an app or website, a retailer can now provide a robust shopping experience to consumers within a messaging service that is familiar, convenient, and already trusted by many consumers.

“Overall, the purchasing experience through a messaging platform like Facebook Messenger unites conversation to commerce.”