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Is “conversational commerce” the next big thing in e-commerce? Facebook recently announced Messenger for Businesses, positioned as a brand tool for marketing communication, customer service and e-commerce for brands. Now Tango has become the first messaging app to integrate shopping in the U.S., unveiling Tango Shop and a partnership with Walmart and Alibaba Group. A tab in the app shows shoppers a feed of items (based on Tango’s selection and past user activity), and users can get recommendations by messaging customer service reps. Shoppers can purchase within the thread and opt to save payment information for fast checkout in the future. Users will also be able to create shareable collections and access special offers.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.42.40 PMIntegrating commerce and customer service within messaging apps is more established in Asia, where WeChat is a trailblazer. Brands can enable purchases via WeChat Shopping (Weigouwu) and WeChat Payment (Weixin Zhifu). But while WeChat has broken ground in mobile e-commerce, the commerce orientation of brands on the platform is anemic. As of 2014, one in five brand accounts tracked by L2 were enabling followers to connect their WeChat accounts to loyalty programs and just over a third were leveraging WeChat’s click-to-call customer service functionality. Little to no Index brands were observed using the in-app purchase capabilities, but a third of brand accounts on WeChat were linking to e-commerce-enabled brand or retailer sites from the app.

As more consumers adopt mobile commerce, messaging apps could have significant potential as platforms that integrate payment with easy access to multiple merchants. To read L2’s research on Mobile Social platforms, download our recent Insight report.

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