Conversational commerce, in text as in voice, remains a (growing but small) niche for now. There is a lot of potential, but also a lot of road to cover still.
The Information (paywall) is looking back on a year of bot frenzy and disillusionment. Facebook, Amazon and Google are all lacking on the distribution side for bots/integrations:
the [Facebook] Messenger platform ended up being too locked down and the distribution avenues too weak to generate the hoped-for opportunities for developers. This failure can either be seen as a realistic and necessary casualty of scale, or a major misfire in Facebook’s quest to monetize the Messenger platform. […]
I can tell you that Amazon to date has made it very difficult for developers to distribute software on the platform and has failed to provide the discovery mechanisms that would allow new developers to flourish. […]
Google was relatively late to the consumer-facing bot party this year, but with the announcement of its Assistant product, its “Home” Echo competitor, and Allo, it has meaningfully tossed its hat into the ring. Google has not, however, been pushing the developer or ecosystem story as much as just creating great services—at least not directly. […]
Long term, I cannot believe that we will not be naturally interacting with “bots.” But, I am doubtful that on a mass audience level we will see a major shift in the ecosystem in 2017 as 2016 at least initially promised.
The bot search engine ChatBottle is holding the first “bot award”, the ‘1st ChatBottle Awards’. Again, it is all early days, but here are the current nominees for e-commerce, with Germany based chatShopper in the lead:
ChatBottle’s shopping category today counts 27 shopping bots for several platforms.
To get a glimpse at what is already possible technologically, also read this article at Nautilus on the Xiaoice bot from a year ago:
In fact, she is so human that millions of people are eager to talk to her. When Xiaoice was released for a public test on WeChat (a popular messaging and calling app in China) on May 29 of last year, she received 1.5 million chat group invitations in the first 72 hours. Many people said that they didn’t realize she isn’t a human until 10 minutes into their conversation.
By mid-June, she had become the sixth most active celebrity on Weibo. One message she posted on the app generated over 663,000 conversations: “As a species different from human beings, I am still finding a way to blend into your life.” Today, she has had more than 10 billion conversations with people, most of them about private matters. Six million have posted their conversation on social media.
- How BuzzFeed, Time Inc. Are Using Facebook Messenger Bots to Create Gift Guides
- The bad User Interface of Today’s Facebook Shopping Bots
- First Bots on Facebook Messenger are Like First “Social Shopping” Pages on Facebook
- Zalon Messenger and the Question about Dedicated Apps in Conversational Commerce
- The Sweet Spot for Conversational Commerce
- Conversational Commerce: How Messaging Will Enrichen E-Commerce