The 800,000-plus merchants on the Shopify platform can now talk to customers in real-time with Shopify Chat, VentureBeat reported on Wednesday (Aug. 15).
The free chat interface lets merchants and customers talk to one another using a web browser on Android, via iOS devices or on a laptop.
The company is also planning to roll out Shopify Chat to SMS and Android devices in the future, Shopify Product Director Michael Perry told the news outlet in an interview in San Francisco.
“Shopify Chat is going to stay focused on the online store because that’s the nature. I think we’re looking and working on partnerships, like expand within SMS. That’s obviously a clear play for us, because what we’ve done with Business Chat. We’d like to be able to recreate that in the inbox as well as through SMS,” Perry said. “Our goal is to have a basic default offering that reaches everybody.”
Shopify recently introduced Apple Business Chat for exchanging messages with iPhone users and plans to help merchants with conversational artificial intelligence (AI). Businesses without Apple Chat can still communicate with customers using Shopify Chat.
Perry said businesses that chat with customers often see more sales. Conversation data can also be used to improve how automated bots perform.
Shopify Chat is a major extension to Ping, which Shopify launched by in 2018 to field chat messages coming in from Facebook Messenger or SMS. Once enabled, Shopify Chat will appear on all pages of online stores, making it easy for customers to get the help they need. Merchants that don’t use Apple Business Chat today can still communicate with customers using Shopify Chat.
Customers who talk to a shopping representative are three times more likely to buy a product and the chat can create a real, personal connection that will increase loyalty and shopper return rates, Shopify said in June, when it added Apple Business Chat to Ping.