Shopping at company websites—let alone brick-and-mortar stores—may soon be a thing of the past. MarketWatch reports that Facebook recently announced plans to develop new payment options in its Messenger app. While friends can already send each other money via Facebook Messenger, the new payment features would allow businesses to accept in-app payments instead of sending shoppers to a separate website.
Already, Uber users can hail a cab on Facebook Messenger, and some companies have rolled out chatbots that answer customer questions or suggest deals. Conversational commerce, as developers have dubbed this technology, takes the retail chatbot a step further, by not only suggesting deals and products within a chat program, but also allowing shoppers to buy instantly. For instance, a customer interested in purchasing a new pair of shoes could simply open a Facebook conversation with their favorite shoe brand and ask what options are available in their style or price range.
The idea, according to developers, is not only to make shopping easier, but paradoxically, to bring back the personal touch missing from other online shopping experiences. Shoppers will be able to conversationally inquire about different products, receive recommendations from chatbots, and pay automatically, instead of calling a store to place an order or spending hours scrolling through hundreds of unappealing options on a company’s website. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains, “You never have to call 1-800-Flowers again.”
[h/t Market Watch]