Conversational commerce: shopping meets messaging

In today’s age, you would rather die (metaphorically, of course) than be without your smartphone. With communication-based apps such as GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat, it is easier than even to keep in touch with everyone in our circles.

Because of the plethora of messaging apps, comes the revolutionary idea of conversational commerce, defined by Chris Messina, as “utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.”

We’ve seen this in the early stages with being able to send money to one another over various apps, such as Snapchat and Venmo. Users of the app can send “Snapcash” to their friends (and event businesses) through Snapchat’s chat function after inputting debit card information when signing up for the service. Other apps, such as Venmo, facilitate the transferring of money back and forth between friends effortlessly. All you need is the app and a debit card.


Facebook Messenger is one of the first to pioneer the idea of purchasing services through its app. Last year, they announced that users would be able to interact with businesses in order to purchase products and services.

The pay feature on Facebook Messenger (photo courtesy of The Observer).
The pay feature on Facebook Messenger (photo courtesy of The Observer).

Messaging has also changed the way people give gifts. The 2015 holiday season saw a rise the giving of digital gift cards. These are agreeing well with the millennial generation, especially those who are time crunched for gift-giving or find themselves far from a particular retailer. These can be delivered through select apps, such as Apple Wallet, or sent to the receiver via email.

In a world where there is heavy emphasis placed on digital and mobile, communication can serve more functions than just conversing with one another. Communication is moving towards being transactional, catering to the demand of today’s on-the-go society. This is just the beginning of how companies can utilize widely used communication apps to their advantage.


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