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Let’s Chat about SMBs and ‘Conversational Commerce’

Messaging apps and chat bots are all the rage. They were a highlight at Microsoft’s recent Build conference; Kik’s recent bot store announcement; and at this week’s F8 developer conference Facebook launched its bot platform for Messenger. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you soon will.

Messaging apps are exploding in popularity among increasingly buying-empowered millennials. Facebook Messenger has 900 million users and growing; and there are several others like WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Snapchat (and Slack in the enterprise world).

But as we (BIA/Kelsey) predicted last year, these apps are evolving from peer-to-peer use, to a means to converse and transact with businesses. That’s everything from customer service inquiries; to checking the status of an order; to buy, schedule, book or reserve something.

Like many other things, this is starting at the brand level with companies like Sephora. However, the real opportunity is in the long-tail SMB segment. But since SMBs are famously time-constrained, they can’t sit there and message customers all day. That’s where chat bots come in.

We explore this emerging — and soon to be huge — area of “conversational commerce” in the latest Analyst Briefs: Insights in Under 5 Minutes video. Watch the latest episode below and then weigh in with your thoughts on chat bots and SMBs.

BTW…I’ll be leading a panel discussion on this subject at the upcoming BIA/Kelsey ENGAGE conference (May 16-18, Austin). “Local Commerce and Messaging: It’s Not Just For Millennials” will feature a panel of experts who will help us learn how a new wave of companies is putting messaging to work in the Local Commerce Universe.  If you’d like to get in on the conversation, make plans to join us in Austin next month. LSA members can save $200 on conference registration with promo code ENGAGELSA. Visit the conference website for event info and registration.

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