Shopify Launches Shopkey, Conversational Commerce’s Next Best Hope

Does eCommerce move too fast for even the most avant garde retailers? Look no further than the trend of app-based mobile commerce – just when it looked like there was a new paradigm of selling to the modern consumer, Shopify releases a product that could upend everything.

TechCrunch reported that Shopify has officially launched a shoppable smartphone keyboard by the name of Shopkey that allows merchants engaged in the growing trend of conversational commerce to search their product catalogs directly through their keyboards. If an associate is answering a question on available stock or upcoming items, all he or she needs to do is type the relevant search phrases and select the products that pop up like any common autocorrect function. Shopkey automatically converts the products into links that redirect shoppers to the merchant’s Shopify online store.

Moreover, with Shopify’s flexible infrastructure underpinning the shoppable keyboard, retailers will be able to interact with consumers on whichever messaging platform happens to capture their attentions in a given quarter. That element of ultimate convenience is what has Shopify director of product Satish Kanwar excited about where Shopkey slots into the future of mobile commerce.

“It’s a much more organic and natural way of shopping we’ve been doing for decades,” Kanwar told Buzzfeed. ”Messaging has just opened us back up to those natural behaviors once again, but through the Internet.”

If Kanwar’s point holds, retailers may be able to breathe a sigh of relief over the stormy waters caused by the eCommerce revolution. Competing against digital merchants on the battlefields of website, apps and other electronic landscapes puts the advantage squarely in eCommerce’s court, but if consumers both turn away from apps and online marketplaces in favor of the fundamentals of in-store shopping (i.e. interacting with a real human), it could shift the balance of power however slightly back in brick-and-mortar’s favor.