Monday, April 18, 2016

“I never met anyone who likes calling a business”

By Andre Gunawan. To use this image, please attribute to "Tech in Asia" with a link to ""

The statement above was made by Mark Zuckerberg at the 2016 F8 Developer Conference, and is the driving force behind Facebook’s entrance into (ro)bot-enabled chat-based commerce (c-commerce).  Facebook is allowing developers to add chat-based software to company sites thereby integrating chat service into retail shopping. This will easily connect retailers with Facebook’s 900 million subscribers and eliminates for consumers the time-consuming activity of downloading apps. Shoppers will interface with AI software by, for example, sending a text asking “what is popular now?” By inferring meaning and taking clues from the customer, the bot will then present options which are later refined according to customer preferences. The interaction style is meant to resemble a conversation with a friend or personal shopper.  Current Artificial Intelligent software is insufficiently sophisticated for this task. So, for at least the immediate future, e-commerce for will require invisible seamless human assistance. Interestingly, the addition of human interaction returns the experience to the person-to-person origins of personal shoppers.  Of note, Facebook believes the experience is enhanced by the fact that texting is gender-neutral, unlike voice-activated software, such as Siri. Is c-commerce a new form of shopping (after the physical store and a Web site), or is a repackaging of existing software that gives the impression of a something new?  

Check out these articles using our New York Times and databases!

Issac, Mike, (2016, April 12). Facebook Bets on Bots for Its Messenger App. New York Times.

McDowell, Maghan, (2016, April 12). Facebook Brings Chat-Based Commerce Mainstream. WWD.

McDowell, Maghan, (2016, January 29). Is Chat-Based Commerce Retail’s Next Phase. WWD. 

Posted on April 18, 2016 I Blog post by Lou Acierno, M.L.I.S. (Director of Library Services)