Facebook Messenger makes strides into commerce

Facebook Messenger is used by 800 million people globally and now KLM Dutch Airlines will be the first airline to allow its customers to check in, receive flight updates and change their travel itineraries right from within the app.

Facebook believes that customer service can easily be handled and even improved through its Messenger app. The company was inspired by popular messaging services in Asia such as WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk that give their users the ability to schedule many of their day to day activities right from within their apps including hailing taxis, making reservations at restaurants, shopping for shoes, playing games and sending gifts such as coupons for meals and coffee.

Last year Facebook launched Messenger for Business to begin exploring the idea of “conversational commerce” with companies who interested in adopting the site's messaging platform to communicate with customers. Walmart, Everlane and even the hotel chain Hyatt have all tried out the service as a new way to interact with their customers.

Messaging has quickly gained in popularity and analysts predict that it could one day overtake social media as the main way consumers spend their time online. 2.5 billion people have registered for at least one messaging app and it is estimated that this number could reach 3.6 billion by 2018.

In the past, companies scrambled to quickly develop and deliver their own apps to consumers with the advent of smartphones and app stores. Now they have come to realise that most people only use a few app throughout the day. By interacting with customers through Facebook Messenger it will be easier to reach their clients who are now no longer burdened with installing a separate app for every company they have interactions with.

Facebook is eventually planning to sell its own services to customers through mobile but the company sees Messenger for Business and companies such as KLM adopting Messenger as a cautious way to capitalise on the success and widespread use of its messaging service.

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