Q&A: Adventures in Conversational Commerce

– [Audience member] Maybe this is a random question, but did you find any differences between iterating on bot features versus iterating on normal website features? – That’s a good question.

One thing that I found to be a little bit difficult is just that…

Like when it comes to Messenger for example, The volume of interactions isn’t high enough to make certain decisions, so when I go talk to some big merchant who does huge volume through their online store, and we’ll find that maybe they’ll have 50 Messenger conversations a day or something like that. Which is a lot in our world of Messenger bot, but not a lot really in the real world.

Often the merchants we talk to don’t have a strong sense of what common patterns have been. I feel like with a lot of our website testing, we have a bigger pool we can draw from.

We can make those decisions more easily, whereas with this Messenger stuff it’s still kind of small sales channel for us. We don’t have as many insights as I would want to get I suppose.

– How are you doing over there, are you nearly ready? Have time for one more question? Alright. We got one more over here.

Who’s got a question…

It’s stunned silence.

[Elizabeth laughs] We have been going nonstop I guess since about 10:30 this morning.

– Yeah.

– [Audience Member 2] Sorry I didn’t catch in that the Facebook stuff that you do in there, is that something just between Shopify and Facebook? Or is that something that’s available to everyone now? – Sorry, I’m just having a bit of trouble hearing. – [Audience Member 2] Sorry, the stuff that you’re doing there with Facebook Messenger, is that available to everyone or is that something that Shopify’ve got? – Well if you have a store on Shopify then it’s available to you.

Yes, you have to be on Shopify to use it.

But it’s available for free to anyone who has a store on Shopify.

– But Facebook has got APIs in Messenger now. – Right, yeah.

– For uses like this, there’s a tonne of talk around this. If it’s something you kinda got an unhealthy obsession with like me, there’s a whole heap of podcasts just on Chatbots like O’Reilly have one and there’s a whole lot of more broad ones around AI that often touch on this. So there’s plenty of stuff happening in that space. The next frontier is getting all the bots, cause there’s always different ways of building bots but you have to build them, it’s a lot like the old days of, you think IE versus the rest of the web is bad. Every one of them does the same thing with their different APIs, so there’s a couple of services that are looking at normalising APIs so you write once, and I can’t remember off the top of my head, you write once and then you can deploy it to Slack or anywhere you’ve got bots out there.

There’s something like a 300 per cent increase in investment in bot-related companies in the last 12 months, which is maybe evidence of the hype cycle, I’m not sure. But I think there’s definitely something there. Please follow up with questions to Elizabeth, and thank you so much for coming all this way… – [Elizabeth] Thank you.

– … from sunny Toronto, and once again can we please thank Elizabeth Allen.

[audience applauds] [electronic music]