Interview with Econsultancy: LINE from Messaging to Merchandise



Jefrey Gomez, Nigel Hee and Econsultancy team has prepared and released a report on the evolution of the messaging platforms for the APAC region: LINE: From Messaging to Merchandise

I had the privilege to review the report and make some contribution to the report along with Olivia Plotnick from WeChat Global Team and Thomas Knoop from Livecom .

Some excerpts from the interview:

EC: What are the potential areas for businesses to use messaging platforms?

Raj: According to the “Facebook Messaging Survey” conducted by Nielsen, 67% of people say they will message with businesses more over the next two years, and 53% say they are more likely to shop with a business they can contact via chat. The business version helps businesses from various areas such as e-Commerce, banking, airline, hospitality, healthcare, education to map different processes. Customer service, technical support, payments, transactions such as boarding passes via QR Codes, delivery receipts, booking orders, subscriptions, streaming live events, interactive games, downloads; content curation, promotions, offers, advertising, recommendations, up-selling etc are some of the areas where businesses can use the messaging platforms and chatbots. Some of the success stories are:
a. According to Kik, brands using chatbots on the network see three to four times higher open rates for push notifications than the typical open rates for brand emails. That’s because messenger bots create a fun, interactive experience that often leads to valuable insights for both consumer and brand.
b. Disney used a Facebook Messenger bot to promote the DVD release of the movie Zootopia by guiding users through missions to solve cases by working with the lead character, Officer Hopps.
c. The Washington Post uses bots to guide users through trivia games on Kik.
d. CNN’s Facebook Messenger newsbot uses a similar method to provide content based on keywords, but it also learns more about the user with each interaction, allowing the bot to provide ever-better content recommendations.
e. Sephora uses Facebook Messenger to streamline their booking process and secure more bookings.
f. Soul Space Media generated 11,000 Facebook Messenger subscribers for 13 cents each.
g. 1–800-Flowers found that 70% of their company’s chatbot orders were from first-time customers

EC: Should ecommerce players focus on messaging apps as a new way to communicate with their customers?

Raj: Yes. Ecommerce players should focus on messaging apps as a new way to communicate with their customers. Messaging apps enhance the potentials of a phone and email. Providing a platform for quick response, they enable users to contact from any part of the world with no fees charged, chat with a customer service team (or chatbots) while sitting in anywhere.
a. Nordstrom launched TextStyle allowing customers, who prefer to interact with their salesperson via Smartphones to do shopping with a text message.
b. Zalon, Zalando’s recently launched online styling service, makes it possible for customers to associate with its stylists through chat messaging in a more direct and mobile way for free, with a previous registration not required. Aside from general styling tips, customers of the Zalon chat might also get guidance on where to find and purchase a definite product. Being less popular among U.S. consumers, it counts 900 million monthly active users worldwide, and processes more than 30 billion messages a day.
c. Online retailer Everlane is an ecommerce startup providing order confirmation and follow-up support through Facebook Messenger.
d. KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, offer 24*7 service via Messenger and social media in 13 languages helping with booking or changing flights, check-in, choosing favorite seats on board or any other question – whether or not you have booked a flight with KLM.
Benefits for brands in ecommerce are:
a. Consistency: chatbots help businesses offer 24*7 customer supports. With the proliferation of multi-channel commerce, chatbots help maintain brand consistency at all times
b. Immediacy: chatbots give consumers a direct line to your brand, and the reactive nature of chat keeps customers engaged whilst shopping.
c. Mobile commerce revenue: brands with a good mobile strategy have a distinct. Chatbots drive mobile commerce and can help brands capitalize on growing mcommerce revenue
d. Scale: chatbots are a cost-effective way for brands to up-selling and recommending products.

EC: What are some gaps that messaging apps could fill in the near future?

Raj: First and foremost is the privacy and security gap. All major messaging services currently let users to be added to groups without permission, exposing their personal details like phone numbers and profile pictures to group members. This is a troubling state of affairs because users may be forcefully exposed to a range of subjectively undesirable content that they would never have signed up for otherwise, which can be particularly damaging, especially in situations where malicious attempt to intimidate, disparage, harass or harm individuals in any way.
Second, not everyone in the world has the premium hardware and superfast data connectivity that its full-fat messaging product assumes. Therefore to reach out to that audience, measure like Messenger Lite should be available on the messaging apps.
Third is the Support Disaster Response.
Fourth gap is the censorship on Cryptocurrency and ICOs. Although Consentium is the latest multi-purpose messaging app to arrive on the market, specially built around cryptocurrency users, let’s see how it fills this gap.

EC: What are some areas where messaging apps could branch into?

Raj: Gartner predicts that by 2020, a customer will manage 85% of his or her relationship with a business without interacting with humans. For now, brand marketers are thinking about how to monetize these advantages over existing methods like retargeting. “Conversations between users and companies inside Messenger have a 30% better return on investment than retargeting ads on the web,” says Facebook’s Marcus.
a. Second area is the telemedicine in healthcare or medical reports like Diabetes or blood or urine reports from pathologists
b. Market research, customer surveys
c. In the initial screening process of the recruitment
d. Directory service would be an useful area for financial and banking sector
e. Publishers can find new content especially user generate content
f. Floating Transportation using GPS and mobile connectivity

EC: What are some obstacles and limitations they need to look out for?

Raj: Fake News, misinformation, spread of hoaxes, plagiarism, privacy, data breach are some of the areas where messaging apps currently have restrictions and obstacles to overcome. Recent incidence in India where 5 people were lynched because of the fake news / message forwarded on Whatsapp have seriously raised concerns on the issues of fake news, misinformation and possible action by the app promoters. Mass forwarding of messages could lead to inciting the violence, provoking sentiments or creating law and order problems in the sensitive areas across the world.

EC: In your opinion, what are the other trends that the industry has to be ready for?

Raj: Predictive Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain are the upcoming technologies where integration with messaging apps and chatbots would be interesting to see. An emerging trend is the use of artificial intelligence to enable conversation. This presents numerous possibilities as technology advances accelerate. For example, selective targeting based on conversation: during a chat with friends, if any celebrity is mentioned – the messaging tool can provide a link to his or her website or to a brand / product s/he associated with. There is a fine line and must be trod carefully as it can be deemed intrusive.
a. Consentium is poised to fill in the gaps left by current messaging applications, addressing privacy, security and censorship issues, and certainly has the potential to become the go-to messaging application for us cryptocurrency users.
b. The use of Augmented and Virtual Reality in the conversation on the messaging apps. For example, converting your image as a character and playing games in the apps or creating images with VR and AR or multidimensional pictures. Lots of opportunities for the fun and entertainment of the teenagers and youngsters

Report is available here: