Chris Messina
This can all be made better. Ready? Begin.

Conversational Commerce

In Chris Messina. More on Medium.

BTW, I’m the guy that coined the term

In January of 2016, I declared that it would be the year of “conversational commerce” — a new paradigm in which automated assistants and bots in voice and messaging channels would radically alter how people use computers! Data from that year that showed a migration to one-to-one messaging from one-to-many, passively consumed social feeds has just been reinforced in the 2018 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. With this shift, a new front has opened in the battle to dominate distribution through conventional app stores thanks to conversational interfaces like voice assistants and bots.

Image for post
Image for post
New data for 2018 shows the continued decline of social networks and rise of messaging for news (Source: NiemanLab)

To seize on this moment, most of the biggest tech companies opened up APIs to help businesses and brands connect with their customers over messaging and voice contexts, and a flurry of experimentation ensued — much of which quietly persists today. …

Post-webinar thoughts and answers to attendee questions

Earlier this week I gave a webinar in collaboration with Infobip on messaging bots and chat for business. You can watch my slides with verbal commentary or browse the visual here:

To be honest, there was so much content to cover that I really struggled with how to distill it into a 30 minute talk. In the end, I decided to go with this outline:

  • About me (i.e. to establish some basic credibility)
  • A bit of a recap on 2016 to discuss the big picture
  • A brief history explaining how computing has become simpler and more casual over time
  • Some terms to help us get on the same page (I updated these terms in the above slides after some…

Many of you probably know that I have my own bot — but one of the more useful features of my bot is its ability to field private messages on my behalf. These messages get sent to me via Messenger, and I respond from within that context. Unlike email which I can and tend to put off indefinitely (sorry!), messages that I receive via MessinaBot stack up quickly, and therefore need to be addressed serially, as they’re received. This forces me to respond in a relatively timely and brief fashion.

Sometimes though, I get tougher questions that require a bit more thought. Given the frequency of questions that I receive related to bots, I asked Anne Cathrine Saarem whether she’d mind if I published my responses to her questions publicly. …

Conversational commerce isn’t merely about texting bots 💬

connie chan has posted this critique of Conversational Commerce last Thursday:

I’ve consistently heard this feedback since I published my post on the subject. The thing is: I agree.

Conversational software, limited to the conventional chat bubble-based SMS form-factor, isn’t the future. It’s the past. Or perhaps it’s the HTML 3.2 to today’s HTML 5, the latter leading to an explosion in performant, designer-driven apps and experiences.

My point is: the bubble is just the beginning, not the end.

Consider that sending and composing Messages on desktop hasn’t really evolved since 2012, when it was known as…

You may think that Facebook releasing a basketball game in Messenger is simply in honor of March Madness, but you’d be wrong. Instead, it defeats any thinking persisting the notion that conversational apps will somehow be limited to a series of back and forth blue chat bubbles. If that’s what you think this revolution is about, you’re completely missing the point.

As I suggested in my previous post on conversational commerce, one of the primary out-of-the-gate challenges is discovery. …

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Gilles Lambert

Nearly a year ago today, I wrote a post inventorying the forebears to what I believe has become the dominant trend of consumer computing apps in 2016, a trend that I dubbed Conversational Commerce and have tracked with the hashtag #ConvComm.

This trend best came to life in 2015 with Uber’s integration into Facebook Messenger:

And now we have data from Business Insider showing that messaging apps have eclipsed social networks in monthly actives:

Image for post
Image for post

And yesterday, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) took the unanticipated (but easily expected) step of removing its $1 annual fee to go completely free in anticipation of a conversational commerce

Messaging apps bring the point of sale to you

I’ll keep this post short since it’s simply meant to record a trend I’ve noticed, which may be obvious to others. From Path’s pivot to emphasize Talk, which enables users to message local businesses, to Facebook’s $22B purchase of WhatsApp, to Fetch’s texting shopping assistants or Fancy Hand’s on-demand assistants, to the recent real-time translation innovations in Google Translate, to Ethan’s army of textable Ethans, to Rise, Lark, and Better in the healthcare space, there’s a lot happening in the communications and messaging space.

Image for post
Image for post
Path Talk allows users to communicate with businesses via text messaging

In addition, each major player offers voice assistants (Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana), and Google’s Nest can handle voice commands. Even Amazon is getting into the mix with a dedicated device called Echo that captures your every (voice) command, including buying things on Amazon for you. …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store