Bots and payments: closing the conversational commerce loop.

Author:Castanon-Martinez, Raul

Augmented by recent advancements in payment integration, the use cases and implications for bots in conversational commerce are emerging quickly. In parts one and two of our series of reports on chat bots, we discussed how bots became one of the key tech trends in 2016 (/report-short?entityld=88964) and detailed emerging technologies and vendors that are defining the bots space. (/report-short?entityld=89940) In this report, we look at the topic of conversational commerce and what this means for the enterprise within the context of the end-user experience.

The 451 Take

The hype created by Facebook and Microsoft has put the spotlight on smart bots and their use for customer engagement and 'conversational commerce.' We contend that chat bots hold great potential and will eventually take their place in the enterprise, but this will take longer than initially anticipated. However, the integration of payments within bots is an important advancement that will help bolster their overall utility and enterprise value. With a transactional component, bots will begin to evolve from simple marketing and branding mechanisms to tools that convert shoppers into buyers, driving real business outcomes. Early developments indicate that much of the near-term activity will occur on messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and involve digital wallets to streamline purchase flows. Longer term, we anticipate retailers will look to add bot-enabled conversational commerce to their existing e-commerce and mobile application platforms to reduce cart abandonment and improve conversion rates.

Bot hype is at peak levels

Media hype in chat bots reached peak levels this year, driving developers to build bots with near cult-like enthusiasm. Bots are being developed at an unprecedented rate, and a wide variety of vendors and startups are jumping on the bots bandwagon. We believe that chat bots hold great potential for transforming how organizations interact with customers and employees. With few exceptions, however, they have yet to deliver on that promise.

We are seeing early progress with bot use cases for sales and marketing, (/reportshort? entityld=89969) as well as security, (/report-short?entityld=90109) but these examples are few and far between. The artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning components associated with bots, in particular, have been at crux of the attention; we believe, however, that there are still challenges that need to be addressed...

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