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Facebook Chatbots are coming to the Messenger App

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The online shopping battle just gets more and more interesting every day. Along with websites and mobile phone apps, retailers are now introducing a chatbot army to increase sales and customer engagement.

On the first day of F8 conference, Facebook announced that it has created a platform which allows companies to develop chatbots that will run on Facebook’s Messenger app and help customers shop.

Chatbots are robots that can simulate human conversations. You could also call them digital assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana’s or Apple’s Siri. Yes, it can sometimes be difficult for them to comprehend, but this is just the starting of the ‘artificial intelligence’ phase.

What makes the Facebook Chatbot so special?

It stands out primarily because companies can connect with over 90 million users all around the world.

Traditionally, if you had to buy something, you would either have to go to a shop or browse that brand’s website. With these chatbots, you can find exactly what you were looking for talking in your natural language directly from the world’s largest social media network. Not to mention, you wouldn’t waste any extra time browsing.

The bots are capable of understanding natural human languages, and they can respond with structured messages, call to action buttons, links, and images.

But, the question on everyone’s mind is – do these chatbots really work?

The Chatbot platform is in beta version right now and only available for a few US-based companies. According to Facebook, it will soon be ready to take over the world and change the way people shop.

Here are a few companies already testing Chatbots on Facebook

1-800-Flowers

You can start a conversation with the bot directly through the Messenger app, or by going to its Facebook page and sending a message.

As soon as you type in, ‘I would like to order flowers’, the bot will automatically start asking you about delivery address, time and the type of flowers.

Wall Street Journal

By chatting with Wall Street bot, you get to know current news and stock market prices. If you were to type in ‘top news’, the bot would automatically show you all the top news headlines.

It should be noted that payments through the Messenger app aren’t allowed, and the customers would be redirected the company’s website at the time of payment.

Are Chatbots the future?

There is no denying that chatbots have become a big thing in the tech world. With this software, companies can provide interactive and personalized communication to their customers which would cut the call centre costs.

And if chatbots are really the future of online retail, then you can expect it to slowly take over the market. While Facebook is just experimenting this with the Messenger app, if the chatbots are a success, they might take it to WhatsApp too considering the latter’s yearly fee has been removed and nobody knows how it’s earning revenue now.

There is also news that Facebook might be introducing ‘Sponsored Messages’ to help brands tap into more customers.

But this is certainly not the first chatbot used for marketing. H&M and Sephora launched their own chatbots on Kik and Taco Bell introduced TacoBots by letting users order food through Slack.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s chatbots can change the online sales for companies. As of today, there are no immediate plans to extend this service to U.K. residents.