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Facebook Wants Merchants, But It’s Not What You Think

Facebook is welcoming online merchants to its Messenger chat platform, the mobile app that is its answer to texting. But there’s no “Buy button” in this announcement.

The company previewed the new “Businesses on Messenger” at its developers’ conference this week, and former PayPal president and now head of Facebook Messenger David Marcus was on hand to explain it.

In his keynote address at the f8 conference, Marcus told developers that Businesses on Messenger is meant to simulate the “personal and delightful experience” of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, with the convenience of being able to access an online inventory, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

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There’s nothing about tools that would let shoppers peruse merchandise on Messenger – this is all about the post-purchase experience. Business on Messenger, which hasn’t yet launched, explains, “Have personal, real-time conversations with your customers.”

Facebook explained that customers can choose to receive updates in Messenger after making a purchase – including order confirmations and shipping status updates. Buyers will also be able to take basic actions like modifying, tracking or returning an order.

“This whole set of interactions and features are unified in a single, ongoing thread between the person and the business,” Facebook explained. Merchants will be able to use their preferred live chat provider – ZenDesk is already entrenched on the platform.

Businesses on Messenger will initially launch with a couple of partners (online retailers Everlane and Zulily are featured on the page), though the company didn’t say when it would launch.

Facebook also gave developers good news – it’s opening the Messenger platform to them so they can create apps that integrate with Messenger. “Messenger Platform brings even more ways for the 600 million people who use Messenger every month to express themselves,” it said.

Business Insider added a sour note in its coverage by pointing out Apple prohibits apps from displaying other apps for purchase or promotion, crediting former Venmo engineer Chris Maddern for pointing that out in a tweet.

Facebook recently launched Messenger Payments, but only as a way for users to send money to each other, and not a way for users to pay for purchases.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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