In store, online, across the world, and through our phones—there are more ways to buy today than ever before.
Now you can pay through apps, shop for products on Facebook, or on Pinterest, and turn your phone into a POS card reader to accept payments anywhere offline—the distance between “I want” and “I have” is only getting shorter for today's consumers.
In many ways messenger apps—Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat—represent the next frontier. According to Business Insider, chat apps are overtaking social media when it comes to where today's consumers are spending their time.
It's not surprising, then, that Facebook Messenger is experimenting with M, a messenger-based assistant that combines AI and human task fulfillment, and Snapchat is working on Snapcash, a way to make peer-to-peer payments a snap.
Messaging apps in general are striving to be more than just messaging apps.
Technology is embracing "conversational commerce", paving the way to make commerce more convenient for both merchants and customers by integrating new functionality into an interface we use every day: Chat.
Here are some of the best Shopify apps that will put you and your store in a better position to take advantage of the rise of conversational commerce, from sales to support to marketing and operations.
Add Shopify's Facebook Messenger channel to your online store, and give your business a direct line to your customers.
Shopkey by Shopify
Shopkey by Shopify puts your entire product catalogue in your keyboard (iOS only for now).
With the same ease with which you’d add an emoji from your keyboard, you can now add product links too—wherever you’re having conversations with your customers.
Instead of hopping between your store and different apps on mobile to recommend or share product links, you can do it directly from your smartphone's keyboard.
- Shopkey makes it easier to sell directly to consumers from your mobile device, letting you access and add product links anywhere, from a private Facebook Messenger conversation to a public comment on an Instagram post.
- Shopkey eliminates steps from your sales/support work flow on mobile, no matter what app the conversation is happening on.
- Shopkey works well with other mobile apps, including many of the ones on this list, making it easy to queue up product posts in Buffer or cross-sell in your preferred customer support app.
Quick Facebook Live Chat
If you're already fielding the majority of customer questions through Messenger via your Facebook Business Page, this is one app you should definitely consider.
Quick Facebook Live Chat lets you power your live chat through Facebook Messenger, answering customer questions and consolidating all your conversations through your Facebook Business Page.
Why Quick Facebook Live Chat?
- Facebook Messenger is a familiar and friendly channel for customers to reach you on.
- Visitors are given the option to Like your Facebook page if they ever wish to throughout their live chat experience.
- With 800 million active users every month, it's worth considering Facebook Messenger as your channel of choice for communicating with customers.
WhatsApp is the most popular global mobile messenger app as of January 2016.
And unlike public social channels, the private nature of WhatsApp makes it a better avenue for making personal product/content recommendations to a peer.
It's no wonder publishers like Buzzfeed are trying to get ahead of the game by allowing readers to share to WhatsApp on mobile. You can let your visitors do the same with your products and content by installing WhatShare.
- WhatsApp recently dropped its $0.99 annual subscription fee, making it completely free—so expect adoption of the platform to continue to rise.
- Buzzfeed is experimenting with WhatsApp shares on mobile with noteworthy success.
- WhatsApp has the most engaged user base compared to any other platform like it.
Price: Starting at $10/month
Sales and Customer Support aren't the only sides of a business that you can streamline by embracing messenger apps.
Similar to Siri, Google Now and other AI assistant apps, Kit is a service that proactively offers assistance around your digital marketing activities, from email marketing to Facebook advertising—all through SMS.
- Text back-and-forth with Kit at your convenience to fulfil marketing activities, like you would with a real virtual assistant.
- Kit is "like having an extra set of hands", giving you the ability to improve the ROI of advertising while also taking some work off your plate.
Kit integrates with other marketing apps like Yotpo.
Price: Starting at $5/month
Zendesk is one of the most popular customer service platforms out there. But that's not the only reason it made this list. It's also one of the few that lets you fire through customer support tickets on the go with Zendesk's mobile apps.
Bring all your support tickets into one place with Zendesk, regardless of where they originated, making it easier to provide customer support and make sales within the same interface.
- Zendesk can be used on a variety of devices, making it easy to handle customer support tickets from the comfort of your couch or on the go.
- Offers customer information from Shopify, so you can go in informed whenever you handle a support ticket.
- Consolidate tickets from a variety of channels (Facebook, Email, Twitter, phone, etc.)
Tidio Live Chat
Price: FREE or $12/month
If you've implemented live chat on your store and find customers just aren't using it, Tidio is one alternative that will change that.
Tidio emulates the experience of physically walking into a store and having a rep ask you if you'd like any help. From that first point of contact, an entire sales conversation opens up where you can handle objections, recommend products and make the sale.
Why Tidio Live Chat?
- Automated messages let you proactively engage customers who are in need of support.
- Know what customers are typing before they hit send so you can begin looking for a solution before they finish asking for one.
- Multi-language support ensures the chat is displayed in the language of your users.
Zopim Live Chat
Price: $Free — $20/month
Zopim Live Chat lets you provide agile customer support when customers might need it, especially if you've only got one person managing all your customer support.
With its advanced analytics, you can jump in at the right time based on a visitor's usage patterns (like a real rep on the sales floor would!) with the mobility you need to provide customer support whenever your store needs it most.
Why Zopim Live Chat?
- Chat with customers on any browser or an iOS/Android app, making it easy to handle customer support tickets from the comfort of your couch or on the go.
- Trigger proactive outreach based on triggers so you can focus on other things until a customer replies in need of assistance.
- Plays well with Zendesk, so you can use the two in tandem to surface customer inquiries and solve them.
Making Commerce More Convenient
When you think about it, we're highly social creatures. And forward-thinking businesses will try to establish a presence wherever their customers congregate.
But unlike social networks, messaging apps are where people actually outline plans, make decisions, and engage with their closest connections. The natural next step is to enable action within the same environment that these conversations happen.
The future of commerce can be summed up in one word: Convenience—enabling consumers to follow through on decisions without leaving the context they were made in.
About The Author
Braveen Kumar is a Content Crafter at Shopify where he develops resources to empower entrepreneurs to start and succeed in business.