Coming to a chatbox near you will be Shopify’s Ping, playing the role of an intelligent assistant for merchants. As the follow VentureBeat article describes, Shopify will enable its merchant clients to more efficiently connect via chat with shoppers on various integrated platforms.
Shopify today launches Ping, a standalone app that lets merchants manage customer conversations, whether they begin on a website, Facebook Messenger, or via SMS. Ping is now available on iOS and is designed to link with the Shopify app. Ping will include Kit, an intelligent assistant that can help merchants set goals, make Facebook ads without leaving a chat window, re-target ads, and send emails to customers.
Half of Shopify’s 600,000 merchants use its mobile app today, and Ping was made to give merchants a way to run their business in a conversational way, Shopify product director Michael Perry told VentureBeat in a phone interview. Perry has led efforts to develop and advance Kit since the marketing bot was acquired by Shopify in 2016.
The new app takes advantage of a series of changes being introduced for Kit. In addition to introducing natural language processing to give merchants more insights, a revamped Kit Skills API to bring more features to the automated bot is due out in late 2018.
By the end of the year, Perry wants Kit to be able to represent businesses in a chat environment by doing things like responding to frequently asked questions and handling shipping queries, though there are times when a human will need to take over.
Chatbots improve the merchant-customer relationship in some keys ways. On one hand, online shoppers can often communicate more quickly when the merchant website has a pop-up chatbox. The merchant benefits with enhanced customer call center productivity, but more importantly, the natural language processing aspect of the chatbot enables the system to categorize and prioritize calls where human conversation is critical to making or saving a sale. In general, messaging has become a new sales channel and part of the growth of conversational commerce that should be part of a merchant’s website sales features.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group