Facebook’s Messenger chat-bots and an update to the React Native cross-platform mobile development framework—both announced last week week—could relieve the pain felt by businesses trying to shift customer interaction from the web to mobile.
It might seem there is an app for everything, but not every business has one. Building a token app that lives a lonely existence on the app store doesn’t help keep customers buying as they shift from the web to mobile. And meaningful mobile relationships and revenue-generating campaigns still elude most businesses because of the high cost of having Android and iOS development teams and the challenges of recruiting developers.
Facebook’s announcements give the many businesses formerly shut out of mobile a path to building mobile apps that encourage mobile customer interactions. Here’s a look how:
B2C business on the Messenger platform inside Facebook’s walled garden could be better for some businesses than the open internet.
The chat-bot development tools in Facebook’s Messenger platform empower B2C companies to build chat-bots within Facebook Messenger that automate customer service functions, answer product questions, accept orders and provide order updates using rich app-like interactions (see the F8 demo).
Advertising within the users’ newsfeed or from a business page can be converted within Messenger without building a mobile app or linking the customer to a large retailer such as Amazon or Walmart. Messenger plug-ins add functionality to keep customers informed of new products, specials and order status updates. Optionally, AI functionality can be added to deepen and make the interaction more natural.
More details about the Messenger platform and chat-bots are reviewed in my analysis from the Facebook F8 Developer Conference.
React Native empowers more companies to build native iOS and Android apps using existing developer talent.
A more complete review can be found in my analysis of React Native from the Facebook F8 Developer Conference
Messenger bots are a beta release, and React Native is just a year old.
Both technologies are very promising but are at an early stage of development. The only way to know if they could provide a competitive advantage is to try to solve a business problem by building chat-bots and apps.