With everyone from Domino’s to the world’s largest banks experimenting with chatbots, it’s not surprising to see the world of ecommerce is jumping on board. Chatbot’s are starting to transform the expectations of customers and the way we do business online.
As more people interact with chatbots, their ability to provide personalized and nearly human level interaction consistently improves. The result is what appears to be a brand-new type of commerce that many are calling chat-commerce.
What is Chat-Commerce
Chat-commerce is still a fresh term, and the exact definition is yet to be established, but one of the best interpretations was shared by social and digital architect expert Chris Messina. He described chat-commerce as the utilization of chat, messaging, and other natural language interfaces (i.e., voice) to connect people with brands, services, and bots that until recently had no real place in a bidirectional, asynchronous conversation.
Now that may seem like a mouthful but it basically means that our future interactions with ecommerce will more resemble a person to person interaction than the current (lonely) style of adding items to a cart.
An Old Dog with New Tricks
Many in the chatbot ecosystem will tell you that chatbots aren’t new, and while natural language messaging bots have been around for years, the idea of combining them with commerce is a new trend that’s starting to catch on.
At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in April of last year, chatbots were centre stage, with Facebook announcing partnerships with CNN, 1-800-Flowers, and several other retailers. Facebook appear very interested in adding new functionality to their messenger application and there’s no doubt that the ability to integrate with the world’s largest messaging platform has transformed the game for chatbot developers.
As with any evolving technology, there are still issues that need to be solved. One of the biggest challenges remains training chatbots to behave in a way that fully aligns with a business’ branding. What becoming more prevalent is using chatbots to act as an intermediary for customer service that screen and sort customers for their human counterparts.
It seems that we’re just at the beginning of what may be a chatbot revolution in the eCommerce space. With some experts predicting 85 percent of all business interactions taking place without human interaction, the only way for chatbots to go is up.
Have you had any interactions with a chatbot? Would you ever consider buying something in a conversation? Let us know in the comments below or reach out on Twitter!