Shopify announced this week that its merchants can now sell products to consumers directly within Facebook Messenger.
The small business e-commerce platform provider has had a long-standing relationship with Facebook. When the social networking giant announced earlier this year plans to build chatbots into the next generation of the Messenger platform, Shopify was first in line with a native integration for its sellers.
Shortly after, Shopify bought Kit CRM, makers of virtual marketing technology, in order to boost its development of commerce bots for Messenger and other messaging apps.
Now the two platforms are getting even closer with a direct sales channel integration that makes product catalogs and pricing available inside Messenger.
This means merchants, via their chatbots, can suggest products to a consumer directly from a chat conversation. If the consumer is interested in purchasing the product, they can click a "Shop Now" button that takes them to a checkout form with an assortment of payment options. For now Shopify is not storing credit card information inside the Messenger app, but native payments could come in the future.
To use the integration, Shopify merchants must add the Messenger channel to their Shopify account and connect it to their Facebook Business Page. From there they can choose which products they want to sell through the messaging app. The free service is available to merchants in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Interest in buy buttons (and its equally buzzword-y partner contextual commerce) has ballooned over the last two years, with merchants, technology providers, and social media companies experimenting with how to use the technology to increase digital sales.
According to Brian Marvin, COO and co-founder of e-commerce advertising firm Bringhub, the latest Facebook/Shopify team up could be a boon for the future of contextual commerce. As major social media platforms like Facebook start integrating transactional capabilities into their platforms, Marvin expects content and commerce to become increasingly more streamlined.
"The industry has reached a saturation point as it stands, with consumers demanding more engaging and streamlined experiences than what most retailers can easily provide," Marvin said. "As such, pioneers in the industry are shifting the relationship between content and commerce to go hand-in-hand, enabling transactions at the very moment of discovery."