Facebook, Shopify Let Users Buy Stuff Straight From Messenger

For all its popularity, Facebook has yet to convince users or businesses to think of the social media network as an e-commerce platform; but not for lack of trying.  It recently tested shops built directly into retailers’ Facebook pages, created a dedicated shopping feed, and just this week launched Marketplace, a competitor to Craigslist.  Now comes a new feature that will let Facebook users browse and buy from retailers through Facebook Messenger.

The “Shop Now” option, a result of a partnership with Shopify, enables prospective customers to begin a conversation with a retailer, acquire that company’s entire product catalogue, and make purchases, without ever visiting a separate website.

In order to use the service, retailers must add Messenger to their Shopify account and connect it to their Facebook business page. The companies can then pick and choose what products are available through the service.

On the customer side, a chatbot will suggest products to a customer directly from a conversation that the user begins on the retailers’ Facebook page.

Once the conversation is started and a customer views the products, they can tap the “shop now” button that takes them to the checkout form. Because all of Shopify’s checkout portal is integrated with Messenger, the purchaser never has to leave the conversation to complete the order.

Shopify product manager Brandon Chu tells TechCrunch that the new system is similar to how typical shopping experiences used to occur: a customer would walk into a store, talk to an employee, and view suggested products.

“From an end-consumer perspective, it’s still pretty novel to think of messaging a business first when you want to interact with them,” he said. “The outcome is moving to an internet version of what retail used to be.”

[via TechCrunch]

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