Ecommerce needs Shopbots, not Chatbots

In April 2016, Facebook opened its Messenger platform to chatbots. Online businesses were tempted to reach over 1 billion Messenger users through a bot, but they lacked clarity on how to do it. The question then arose, how could bots be best used by online businesses to engage customers and grow value? I’ll come to this in a while.

When we think bots, we expect them to speak like humans. However, this may not always be true. In a recent blog post,  Mikhail Larionov from Facebook says bots must be more structured and less conversational.

Most people expect bots to speak in a natural language. While natural language processing is appropriate for many use cases, it’s sometimes not the right approach

He also goes on to say that the messenger bot will be industry specific. For example, an ecommerce company’s messenger bot will look and feel totally different from the bot of a News company.

2016 was the year of the generic bot, with businesses and developers finding early success with experiences that were simple to execute and easy for people to use. To encourage growth in 2017, platforms will build on top of themselves and design tools that plug into tool-chains and CRMs so more industries like media, ecommerce, and restaurants can benefit.

Recently, eBay launched a Messenger bot, eBay Shopbot, which adopted a different approach in its design. Ebay’s Shopbot serves as a product discovery platform for its users. Users could browse and search for products in the catalogue and could also look for Trendy Products, Similar Items, Best Value Items, etc.

Ebay’s approach seems to be quite in-line with Mikhail’s perspective. The Shopbot is structured and has the use cases their users would need.

At QGraph, we believe that Shopbots will be the future of online shopping. This newer attractive shopping experience and with Facebook aggressively marketing the Messenger platform, Messenger bots have the potential to be extremely useful for both shoppers and ecommerce companies.

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