Facebook's new Messenger bots let retailers sell in chat

Facebook has opened up its Messenger app to retailers, allowing for the creation of new software that lets merchants sell directly to customers in a chat window.

The new chat bots act as automated personal shoppers. Customers can order products in the chat window through the apps.

Facebook announced the new feature at its developer conference and demonstrated the capabilities with 1-800-Flowers, showing how shoppers can ask the bot for flower suggestions and order directly from Messenger.
"To order from 1-800-Flowers, you never have to call 1-800-Flowers again," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

Mobile shopping app Spring is an early participant and is using a brief questionnaire to present users with shopping results from its partner merchants. To buy, a user clicks an item and completes the purchase on Spring's mobile site inside Facebook's browser, so customers never have to leave for an external website.

"I can guarantee you you'll spend way more money than you want on this," joked Messenger messaging products executive David Marcus, according to Re/code. "It's very addicting."

Facebook has proven to be a great platform for social engagement, but the barriers to direct sales from the site have hampered merchants. Earlier this week, BigCommerce announced the ability for its member merchants to create shop sections for direct selling on Facebook.

Nearly 50 percent of visitors to Facebook are actively looking for products, according to the social media site.

For more:
- see this Re/code story
- see this Internet Retailer article

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