In the headline above, we have tried to predict in the two sentences what will eventually happen with online retail business in late 2016 – early 2017 as a result of active IM bots development. Why is it so? Let us sort it out.
If we make a retrospective journey into history, we will see that the first bots appeared back in the 1990s, when Internet Relay Chats (IRC) were a mainstream, e.g. Gala-Chat, Bizarre, etc. Then we faced the bots, being hacker attacks elements (phishing bots, prying passwords out). In 2015-2016, we all witnessed the new era start – the chat bots appearance (Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Slack already support them), which, in their turn, are the next stage precursors, namely the stage of artificial intelligence (AI) development. In the meantime, we are still dealing only with mere software algorithms (scripts, patterns).
Though even these simple – at first glance – artificial intelligence representatives drastically change user behavior. They are treated like assistants in daily work, helping to save time and money for various kinds of operations (let’s take the bot which has helped adjudge about 3 million pounds from the government for improper parking fines). Naturally, online retail business will join this game sooner or later. And it will change not only the way retailers communicate with consumers but also rebuild the internal processes of their work itself.
Now we dare to say that the instant messengers’ age in communication among people has come, and all you have to do is just look at the number of active users per month: WhatsApp– 1 billion, Facebook Messenger – 800 million, Viber– 650 million, WeChat– 600 million, Telegram – 100 million. This constantly growing popularity is linked to several mutually supportive factors: in our constantly “accelerating” world, any unscheduled call, especially made during working hours becomes less and less desirable; although users are eager to constantly stay in touch but, at the same time, they dislike when their personal space is violated. And messengers do solve both issues: unlike e-mail, they provide “streamed” communication and make setting boundaries an easy task – users will eventually respond to messages when it is most convenient for them.
In addition to the ubiquitous irruption of messengers, another trend has gradually emerged: users do not want to install new applications on their smartphones/tablets. Why not? The existing pool of installed applications is able to solve all the pressing tasks, and new apps installation is a rather complicated process from the standpoint of users. That is the reason why for the past few years, UX professionals from around the world are trying to reconsider the entire concept of a traditional smartphone, loaded with applications.