Here’s a vision of the Facebook shopping future: You’re chatting with a friend on the company’s Messenger service about plans to go to a concert, and one chat bot chimes in to offer help purchasing tickets while another hails a car service. Speaking at the company’s annual F8 developer conference on Tuesday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg envisioned Messenger’s more than 900 million users turning to this bot-enabled purchase model. If successful, the model would essentially eliminate the need to open a third-party app for a broad range of transactions. It’s understandable why Facebook wants to control more of the multibillion-dollar e-commerce market, but there’s no guarantee shoppers will share the enthusiasm.
In fact, an arguable predecessor to Messenger’s sales bots didn’t find much success with shoppers. The Facebook “Buy” button, first tested in 2014, was meant to get users to “purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook,” as the company described it at the time. It never reached mainstream use or popularity, and only about a third of millennials said they were likely to use the button, according to the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Read more at Bloomberg.