Zalon Messenger and the Question about Dedicated Apps in Conversational Commerce

zalonmessenger

Zalando has launched Zalon Messenger for its curated shopping / styling service Zalon (German, Google Translate).

Zalon already uses WhatsApp to let customers and stylists converse.

In “What Online Retailers can Learn From Quartz’s First News App” I wrote:

Most of what Quartz built for its app can easily be ported to, say, a chat platform like WeChat, Snapchat or Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. It can also be fed into a voice interface like Amazon Alexa.

The app is not the end point but a starting point.

Now, this doesn’t mean online retailers should build apps with a chat UI. (Although it would make sense for Outfittery and Zalando’s Zalon to provide richer interfaces molded to serve those very use cases, for example)
But Quartz’s app shows how you can conceptually start a new way of approaching the job you are doing for your customers whilst also opening up all kinds of options for the future.

With all major tech companies building new messaging/bot platforms1 it is not at all clear how this will all turn out.

  • Does it make sense to provide a dedicated messaging app for one’s messaging based service?
  • What are the unique features of such an app justifying its existence?
  • How important is feature parity amongst messaging platforms (and the dedicated app)?
  • May it be enough to be on the most popular messaging service in a given market additionally to the dedicated app? (For Europe that service for text messaging is WhatsApp.)
  • Will the different ways of discovery for services within messaging platforms be better or worse compared to app stores?

Open questions. Given the fact that the back-end2 will most certainly be the same for every channel, it then makes sense right now for Zalon and others to experiment with both: an app one owns and messaging platforms owned by others.

Zalon, which launched in 2014, is one of the five pillars of Zalando according to the company.

Zalon Messenger is iOS only for now. Zalon has a completely different app for Android, interestingly. (Which may be potentially confusing for customers.)

More on this topic:


  1. Facebook alone will have two: Messenger and WhatsApp. 
  2. In fact, I suspect a lot of innovation for Zalon and the likes will happen in the back-end rather than the front-end. 

5 comments

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