Barely a week after adding person-to-person payments to Facebook Messenger, Facebook said it is adding the ability for users to chat with businesses on the social network’s mobile app. The company announced the upcoming capability at its F8 developers’ conference on Wednesday (March 25) in San Francisco, VentureBeat reported.
In a keynote demonstration, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed how users could use Messenger to place an order with a retailer, then send messages back and forth with the retailer to ask questions, change the order or get shipping notifications.
Details on the feature were scarce, but in an accompanying post on the company blog, Facebook identified the feature as part of “Businesses on Messenger,” part of its new Messenger Platform for the social network.
“With Businesses on Messenger, people can have rich and personal conversations with businesses. For example, after purchasing something from a website, people can choose to receive updates in Messenger and continue their conversation with the business in the app,” the post said.
“Once there, people will be able to receive relevant messages from the business including order confirmations and shipping status updates, and will be able to take basic actions like modifying, tracking or returning an order. People will also have the option to ask a business questions, make requests and get quick responses. This whole set of interactions and features are unified in a single, ongoing thread between the person and the business,” the post continued.
Facebook added that Businesses on Messenger will launch within a few weeks, initially with only a few partners.
The expansion of Facebook Messenger into a full-fledge platform shouldn’t be a shock, according to Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster, who noted on Monday that Messenger has 700 million users and is headed by former PayPal CEO David Marcus. “Marcus says he has always admired China’s WeChat platform and used it as the inspiration for his vision of what Messenger could become,” Webster wrote. “That suggests that P2P is likely Messenger’s first act.”