Messaging Commerce: The Next Big Thing or a 2016 Fad?

Messaging commerce is the future of eCommerce. Or is it? We’re joined this week by Paul Gray of Kik, who enlightens us about the popularity of messaging apps, the possibilities of bots, and how he would respond to the naysayers of these up and coming technologies.

Andrew and Paul talk about the changing landscape of social media and marketing as messaging apps become ever-more popular. Paul shares the three crucial developments driving this year’s messaging growth, and how bots will transform the relationship between companies, products, and consumers.

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Paul Gray of Kik)

Andrew: Hey, guys, Andrew here. And before we get into the official episode today, I wanna come full circle with an experiment we did about a month ago or so on the podcast. If you remember, we had a couple of podcast sponsorship spots for David Heacock’s business, filterbuy.com, with a little experiment to see if… Well, David, I’ll just let you explain. What was it you were thinking about doing?

An Update on our Podcast Experiment

David: I believe it all started when I ran a poll in the private forum to determine whether or not I should sponsor the Tim Ferriss podcast. And so it was something that we were considering, and I was curious as to what the community thought. And the community collectively thought that we should test it with your podcast first. And so that’s what we did.

Andrew: And I think the community collectively thought it was probably something that wouldn’t pay off for your pretty…I mean it wasn’t that kind of the overall sentimental right from the get-go.

David: Yes, and I think that you may have been somewhat of the building brain, because you were the first one to weigh in on it. But, yes, people in general did not like my idea.

Andrew: I don’t think that didn’t like the idea. They just thought it might not necessarily be the best ROI. Before we get into these other results, what does it cost to sponsor the Tim Ferris show? I’m guessing it’s not cheap.

David: No, it’s not cheap. It’s a minimum of two or three episodes, I believe, and it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000 an episode.

Andrew: Wow! So you’re getting close to $100,000 minimum, you know, if you do four episodes?

David: That’s correct. If you were to do four episodes, it’s somewhere in that neighborhood. And I actually personally suspect that, for the advertisers that he has, that it’s working. And in fact, if you actually look up the Tim Ferriss Mizzen+Main in Medium, you’ll find a very nice write-up from the founder of Mizzen+Main, the clothing company that had a tremendous amount of success by doing it. And reading that is what gave me the idea to contact them about it.

Andrew: Yeah, and it’s funny, because, you know, I know I was kind of pessimistic on how it worked. But after listening to the Tim Ferriss show on one occasion and hearing that Mizzen+Main post, I went to their website. I actually bought one of their shirts. They’re great shirts. They’re super expensive. But so it worked.

Anyway, all this to say we thought we’d test this. You’ve been such a great member of the community, added so much. And we’d just say, “Hey, David, we’ll give you a couple spots, and we’ll see how it works.” And, you know, if it takes off, then maybe there’s a little bit something there that… Obviously, our audiences aren’t exactly the same, but there’s a little overlap. I’ll use it as a proxy test to see if it was worth, you know, dropping that kind of coin.

And I looked up the numbers before we were on here. And so the two episodes that the spot ran for has, you know, maybe a 60-second spot at the very top of the episode, maybe 90 seconds. Between those two, the episode was downloaded over 9,000 times. So, you know, that’s the kind of exposure that we got since they’ve published over the last month or so. And maybe we can determine all here, what were the results? How many units did you sell? Hundreds? Thousands?

David: Zero. I am afraid to tell you that your podcast does not do a good job at moving filtration products. It was an epic fail.

Andrew: Are you sure you didn’t set up the tracking wrong? The cookies for the landing page weren’t set up properly.

David: We ran a significant amount of traffic through similar type pages and have very good attribution. So I am 99.99% confident that the tracking is correct.

Andrew: Wow, shoot. Well, David, I’m sorry. What do you think, apart from the fact that maybe I could’ve been a better pitchman for the filters, what do you think it was? Was it the audience fit? Was it just not a good medium for getting people to move the products? What were your thoughts?

David: Well, it’s all about the audience and their mindset about why they’re listening to a podcast, I think. And obviously, you have people that are listening to your podcast that are not necessarily thinking about their home and/or business and changing their air filters. So it’s not a result that surprised me in this particular case. And I would add that the advice that I got from you and the community was you worried about whether or not the Tim Ferriss would have been a fit for our type of customer. And I will admit that it was a concern that I had before thinking about it. And I don’t think we will ever know whether or not the Tim Ferriss experiment actually would have worked, because I lost the nerve to give it a shot.

Andrew: So needless to say, you will not be going forward with the near six-figure podcasting experiment on his show.

David: No, I’ve decided to take those investment dollars and maybe put them somewhere else.

Andrew: Man, shoot. Well, interesting experiment. And, hopefully, you know, if you’re out there, you’ve got a product you’re thinking about. I think for branding, podcasting a lot of times, if there’s something…it takes a lot of times. Like it worked for me for Mizzen+Main. I feel like a lot of times with…if you’re trying to do a branding campaign or raise awareness about something, it can be helpful. But, yeah, I thought… You know, David, obviously, I weighed in really early with that with saying, “I don’t know if it’s the best fit.” I thought we would’ve sold a couple, you know, with those kind of downloads. But, you know, it would be interesting. If you ever have had a lot of success moving a physical product, especially one that’s maybe a little bit, you know, not ground-shaking or revolutionary, give us a ping here at the podcast. I’d be at be interested to hear it. And, David, sorry we couldn’t move more. But thanks for being willing to do the experiment with us. It was fun.

David: Well, I appreciate the branding recognition amongst your 9,000 downloads. So to all of you who listened to that, I appreciate it. And the link is still live if you would like a discount on your air filter or water filter or vacuum cleaner filter from filterbuy.com.

Andrew: I’m gonna go over there and buy a couple myself just to say we didn’t get skunked. I’ll not tell you though.

All right, thanks, David. Thanks for listening, and we’ll get on with the rest of the show.

Welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow e-commerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.

Hey, guys, it’s Andrew here. And welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in to today’s show. And on this episode, we’re gonna be talking about something that’s been getting a lot of press and buzz in 2016. And that is messaging. Messaging apps, chat bots, you know, messaging commerce, all of that, big topic of conversation in 2016, often heralded as the next big thing online that we’re gonna see the in next big shift.

And joining me to really dive into it is Paul Gray, who’s the Director of Platform Services over at the popular messaging service Kik, which is good, because I know very little about this. I just installed Snapchat like a month ago, and it took me three days to figure out how it worked. So glad we have someone who’s an expert on this versus myself.

But, yeah, we looked into all sorts of stuff. Particularly, is this something that’s relevant for independent high six and seven figure merchants? It’s one things for Uber and Nordstrom to roll this out, to try to be thinking about a messaging strategy. But, you know, if you got a million-dollar Shopify store, is this something that’s really important for you to think about? We get into that. So I hope you enjoy the episode, and will dive right in.

Paul can you give us a sense of what Kik is for people who aren’t familiar with it?

Background of the Kik App

Paul: Yeah, sure. Kik is a smartphone messaging app on iOS and Android used by 40% of U.S. teens. And that really is our core audience. It’s teenagers and young adults who are using Kik on their phones to chat with friends, family, colleagues. They send text messages, photos, videos. They share content they found online. And more recently, Kik’s become a platform where brands and developers can build experiences that are actually delivered to users through chat.

How to Build an Audience

Andrew: It seems like messaging, the hardest thing to get would be the audiences, chicken and egg kind of problem, you know? It’s great if everyone has it, but getting everyone to use it is the tricky part. If you’re Facebook, you can, you know, kind of piggyback off of your platform and use Messenger. How did you guys build up an audience with… I believe you guys are just a standalone messaging app. So how did you do that?

Paul: Yeah, building audiences is definitely a big challenge, and I think it’s part of the reason why the other way brands are delivering experiences to users is starting to change. I think in Kik’ case, we launched in 2009, so it’s a company that’s actually been around for quite some time, and really rode the wave of mobile growth that occurred in the first five years of this decade. So we just focused on building a messaging app that was light, that was user-friendly, that was very transparent. There’s no disruptive advertising in it. There’s nothing spammy in the app. We’ve been very user-focused. And that helped us build a base and really compound and grow from there.

The Audience for Messaging Apps

Andrew: It sounds like your audience is very teen-specific. Is messaging, as a whole, you know, Snapchat, all these other messaging apps that are kind of becoming talked about so much recently, is that primarily a millennial thing? Or is it something that you’re seeing take off for older audiences as well?

Paul: Yeah, we see the data showing that messaging is something that’s used by pretty much every demographic. The way they will do that differs in terms of which messaging app or site or service that they’re using. So something like Facebook Messenger, I mean they have to appeal to basically all ages, all countries, all demographics. Whereas, an app like Kik, we’re very much focused on a teen and young adult audience. But if you look at the data that’s out there, messaging is already bigger than social. The biggest messaging apps have more usage than the biggest social apps. And when Mark talked about himself, just before they bought WhatsApp, he was on an earnings call, and he noted that messaging is the only thing people do more than social networking. So it’s big across every demographic, every group.

And when you think about, you know, your own use cases. You wake up in the morning. What the first thing you’ll do on your phone? Almost guaranteed, it’s checking messages. That’s use case number one. Then you might start browsing through more timeline news feeds, looking at weather. But messaging is the core experience on mobile. And we think that’s what’s driving the heavy use across all demographics.

The Year of the Bot

Andrew: It seems like 2016, messaging has been kind of the buzz industry, the buzz word. What is it about this year that’s making that the case? I mean text, at least, you know, texting has been around forever, and I know a lot of the messaging platforms are a little bit more sophisticated than that. But fundamentally, the technology, it’s not new. It’s almost kind of a throwback in some ways. Why hasn’t it gotten bigger before this? What is it about 2016?

Paul: It’s a great question. I think there’s been a couple of key things that we think have really made this the year of messaging, and also some have been calling it the year of the bot. I’d say the first one is that messaging is the number one experience on mobile devices. Social used to be bigger. But messaging has now eclipsed that. I think also mobile penetration is very important. If you look at…particularly in western markets, penetration is basically over 100%. Most people have multiple devices. There is really a waking moment where people today do not have their mobile with them and maybe looking at it or at least in their pocket ready to get the notifications.

And I think the third thing that’s really driving it this year is app overload. You look at comScore studies, they do them every year. The most recent one showed that two thirds of U.S. adults download zero new apps per month. And when you consider that there are literally millions of apps out there and that the top 200 apps account for almost all app usage, the reality is that most consumers simply do not want to install a new app. There is just so many steps and tricks involved. There’s limited real estate on a mobile device. There’s less and less interest in that. So I think those three things have combined to, you know, really set it up for messaging as a platform in 2016.

Multi-Platform Functionality

Andrew: How does the ecosystem look right now? I’m gonna use Uber as an example, you know. Do they have to integrate, I’m guessing they do, with all third-party messaging apps, whether it be Facebook Messenger or Kik or Snapchat, and connect with, you know, half a dozen or a dozen different platforms individually? So is it kind of on the app provider or, as we’ll get into in a minute, kind of an e-commerce merchant if they were gonna start delivering customer experiences for their customers? Do they have to integrate with all these different myriad of apps? Or is there any universal protocols in place to make this easier?

Paul: Yeah, so I mean each messaging platform, generally being run by independent companies, has got to operate differently. So I think, in some ways, it’s kind of like looking at iOS and Android. They’re different platforms. But ultimately, they serve the same use experience. And developers build their apps to look comparable across both platforms.

The thing with bots is that it’s much, much easier to build a bot and publish it on multiple platforms than it is to build an app. If I’m building an app, often, they are built in different languages altogether and with different considerations in terms of how the design of the app UI needs to look, screen size, all these sorts of things that need to be kept in mind in designing and then maintaining an app. And then if you compare that to a bot…when you think about a bot or conversational commerce, all a bot isn’t is a transmission of a message back and forth to that service. So user says this, pass the message along, bot replies with that, pass that message back. There’s a lot less to develop and maintain, which is why it’s so much quicker to get bots up and running.

And I think as for which platform developers should consider, they just need to think about where their audience is. It always comes down to what need or want does my service solve for an audience, and then who is that audience, and where is that audience? So Kik being teens and young adults is probably not gonna be the best fit for a life insurance brand. But if you’re a fast food brand or a fashion brand, it’s definitely a good fit, because that’s where your demographic is spending, you know, the majority of their time.

The Future of Apps In the U.S.

Andrew: Give me a sense, if you can, of what it looks like in the future two to three years down the road. Maybe a better way to do that is to say…I mean China right now is…the usage of, you know, these app-type platforms, or messaging platforms rather, in terms of their scope and depth, is so much more mainstream than it is here in the U.S. Can you give us a sense of what people are doing like in China that we’re not yet doing here and maybe what we could expect to see in the future?

Paul: Yes, so if you look at messaging apps in Asian markets, they’re somewhat sort of light years ahead of where things are at in Western markets. People use these messaging apps as hubs to their full digital lives. So on something like WeChat for example, you could order a pizza. You could watch a movie trailer and buy tickets. You could send flowers. You can even apply for a mortgage. So obviously, they are very large platform with a very broad demographic and have spent several years building the tools and capabilities to allow for that to happen.

So I think that’s gonna happen here in Western markets as well. And with Kik, obviously, we already have the teen and young adult demographic. And that allows us to really hone in and focus on them. So when you consider this demographic, there are audiences that may not yet have decided what their favorite fashion brands are, who they’re gonna bank with one day, or where they’re gonna go study in school. All the consumers in the West have already made those decisions and already have the apps. And, you know, I already have all these different apps I’m gonna use. So that’s what I’m sticking with.

But we think that by serving this demographic, we can potentially recreate that way of building a platform and utility that helps empower their lives ongoing.

How to Message for Your Take-Out

Andrew: I mean you mentioned the use case of ordering a pizza, for example. How does that work? Let’s just use Domino’s, for example, here in the U.S. Akin to China, would I just text the Domino’s number and say I’d like to order a pizza? Do I have to enter credit card information, or is it stored on my phone? Do I have to enter a location, or is that just automatically detected via my, you know, my GPS on my phone? Maybe it’s kind of geeky question. But how does that actually work technically?

Paul: It works pretty much as you’d expect that it needs to work. I mean you need to know who the user is, including who they are, where they are. You need to have a method of payment and transaction and then plug into the backend to handle logistics.

I mean one live example that’s already up and running in the West is TacoBell bot that’s built on to Slack‘s platform. So the way this works is, for your listeners who use Slack in their workplace as a communications tool, you can add the Taco Bell bot to your Slack experience and then talk to it. Obviously, the first time you chat to it, you’ll need to give a bit of information. So my name is Paul Gray. This is my work address. This is my home address. Authenticate, you know, my credit card details. But thereafter, it essentially knows that. And the way the Taco Bell bot works on Slack is you chat to it and you place your order through conversation. So “I would like to order three burritos for delivery.”

And then it would say, “What would you like on them? And what additional flavors and sauces and things would you like to have?” So it’s in some ways just like talking to a human server just through chat, except in this case, you’re chatting to a bot. And then that’s connected to their existing logistics. So the food is prepared, cooked, and then delivered to you.

So I think that’s an example of how it’s working. Obviously, things will become more visual. Once you start using bots frequently, you’ll have kind of saved orders. So maybe if I’m talking to the pizza bot later on, it could be Friday evening, “Hey pizza bot, I’d like to order some pizza.”

“Sure. Where would you like it delivered, to work or home?”

“Home.”

“Would you like the same as last time?”

“Yeah.”

Done, that’s it. Then the same order that I ordered last time comes over to me, so really making it as simple as possible and as frictionless as possible.

Bots To Help You Shop

Andrew: Do you see messaging being primarily as a way for people to get information, get customer support, have things delivered, you know, like ordering Uber or order Taco Bell? Obviously, that’s something that it’s being used for right now. But do you do you see it actually as a way for people to be able to explore and find new products and goods to purchase? Because it’s one thing to order an Uber or a taco, it’s another thing to use messaging and chat with a bot to really find a new shirt or a new bicycle or whatever it is. Do you actually ever see that being a path where consumers can find new goods in the eCommerce channel like that?

Paul: Absolutely. I think if you look at social media and digital marketing and CRM, what is it ultimately about? It is about a way for a brand or a service provider to have a relationship with the consumer. And those relationships work best when, obviously, you’re either respectful and the brand is respectful of who the consumer is, or the brand over time learns and understands what it is that the consumer wants. I mean I’ve had an Amazon account forever. I get really useful emails from Amazon letting me know new products and things that are out there. I’m a demographic that reads emails. Young people don’t read emails. They use their messaging platform. So that kind of model fundamentally works. But the delivery mechanism doesn’t work as much.

So I think bots and messaging provide a way to have that direct communication. And then when you layer in on top of that how bot services are going to evolve, become more sophisticated, become better, you’re starting to look at real two-way interactive relationships between a consumer and a brand. A good example is what Sephora has been doing with Kik. They have a chat bot which young audience can communicate to and talk about makeup and beauty. They can watch tutorials. They can get advice, what sort of beauty products work best of their skin type, things like this. That’s something that you can do privately in a conversation with a chat bot that you wouldn’t be able to do on a public broadcast platform like a Twitter or an Instagram, which is basically about them just showing, “Hey, here is this cool thing. Check it out.” That’s great to let people know about stuff. But if I wanna, “Well, I like eye shadow, but I wanna know more about it. Like, you know, does it work with this? And is it water proof? Is there SPF?” blah, blah, blah. These are the sorts of questions that you could ask of a chat bot.

So bots will really enable this two-way true conversation. I think it’s less marketing. It’s more sales. Imagine a brand being able to have a sales representative delivering something of great value personalized down to an individual level, to every consumer?

Bots Are Not Evolved AI’s

Andrew: How good are bots right now? I mean you think of the kind of the old school comparison maybe I’d akin them to is you call an automated phone tree, and you get the person who’s like “Hello and welcome. Just tell me what you’re interested in, what you want me to do.” And, of course, you say something, and they don’t hear you correctly or you need to mispronounce it. And it’s trying to be like you’re talking to a person, but it’s so painfully obvious that it’s a bot that a lot of times it’s unusable. Where are we at with…obviously, it’s still fairly early stage, but how good are the bots now? And how quickly are the evolving to be smarter?

Paul: When people say things like 2016 is the year of messaging and the year of the bot, everyone immediately assumes it’s like the movie “Her,” and I’m literally just chatting to this super intelligent AI, and it will do everything for me. That is definitely coming. That will happen, but I think where we are…I like to use the analogy of this is you’re one of the app stores. So if you took the lens of what they’re used to on mobile apps now and you went back to 2008, 2009 and looked at the apps that run the phones back then, they were rubbish. They would look awful. They would have had that terrible UI. It wouldn’t have made sense. There were no consistent practices. There was no best practice. It was really early days. Some of those apps from back then evolved and got better. And now, they’re very successful. Others have disappeared.

So I think for bots, it’s still very, very much early days. We are just at the beginning. People are experimenting and testing with things, working out what works, what doesn’t work in every aspect, from experience design to user design to content to the tone of how bots interact.

I think what we’re seeing, though, is a lot of creativity, and consider bots more broadly, not just in terms of text, but also in voice. If you look at Amazon and the Alexa, the Echo product for example, which is a device that you can place in your home, and you just speak to it, and it listens to queries, and it’s becoming increasingly more capable. There’s a lot of development in natural language processing and AI and machine learning, which will just continue to increase that sophistication.

I think you look at it now, they may not be that great. But if you look at it 12 months from now, there will be a marked improvement, in five years from now, extreme improvements and, really, I think, very different experiences in how people are interacting with service and brands five years from now.

Bots For The Bigger Players (For Now)

Andrew: Is messaging something that’s limited to bigger merchants at the moment. I mean you think about Uber, of course. It’s no issue for them at all to build a custom integration with Kik or SnapChat s or whatever it is or Facebook Messenger. The audience listening to this is, again, independent merchants, high six, seven figures, you know, trying to develop their own proprietary connection with a messaging platform, not to mention the intelligence AI behind a bot is probably a little out of the scope. So is this something that you’re seeing any small merchants being able to get involved with? Or is it limited to bigger guys right now?

Paul: So I think you’re right. I mean at the moment, creating an experience that’s compelling and delivering if your messaging does require some concepting, product design and development, and then deploying and maintaining it, so that generally is meaning that it’s either larger organizations or more digitally savvy smaller organizations that are executing there. But I think that’s going to evolve out. I mean, again, if you think about the app store early on, a lot of app developers went out, and they wanted their app to be the big app. And for some of them, that worked. For most of them it didn’t. So what ended up happening is that they redevelop, of app developers. And now I could have a million choices as a brand or a retailer to go out and find a very experienced and capable development house to build me an app.

Likewise, that’s gonna become for bots. I think we’re already seeing early signs of this. I mean Shopify, as an example, recently acquired a company in Silicon Valley called Kit. And they’ve built an AI-like experience that helps small to medium store merchants who have Shopify shops to effectively plan out and manage social media campaigns through chat. So I think, yeah, we will see that evolve.

Andrew: Is a Kit, K-I-T?

Paul: K-I-T, yeah, kind of like the Knight Rider car.

The Magic of Messaging

Andrew: Okay, got you. Interesting. Yeah, it’d be fascinating if there was a way where you could have, you know, one integrated hub that had all the AI but then had a very simple SaaS-based platform where you could log in and a user interface that creates, you know, common use cases like how do you deal with customer service requests and shipping and FAQs, and you can plug those all in. And if there’s a way that somebody could build that up that smaller merchants could take advantage of, it’d be really compelling.

What would you say to people, and there are a good number of them out there, that they’re saying, “You know, I don’t buy this whole messaging thing.” Yeah, there’s a bunch of “Maybe it’ll be around. Maybe it’ll grow. Maybe a lot of, you know, millennials will use it. But in terms of driving meaningful commerce, I don’t see that happening.” And maybe they think back to, you know, four, five years ago when social was really, really taking off and all the buzz. And there was massive promise of “Hey, social is the next big thing. That’s where you’re gonna drive your e-commerce. That’s we’re gonna drive a lot of your revenue.” And I think a lot of people have been disappointed with that. I mean you think about Facebook. People investing a ton of money in Facebook. Their organic reach is almost nil now. They have to pay for it. And even then, there are definitely success stories where people have leveraged social to be their primary driver for building a business. But I think a lot of people have…if you look at social, they’d say it was a little disappointing in terms of…or a lot disappointing in terms of how much it actually impacted the bottom line. What would you say to people who are saying that about messaging in 2016?

Paul: Yeah, I think whenever something is super-hyped, and right now, messaging and bots are getting a lot of attention and focus, and expectations can be high, I always just distill it back down to what is it as a business that you are…how do you become successful? And for the most part, it’s about having a relationship or a communication channel between the brand and the consumer. And then delivering on that is the challenge. That’s the magic. So you actually have to make something of value that is meaningful and useful and valuable, because you have hundreds of competitors, maybe thousands or tens of thousands that are all trying to reach that same consumer.

What messaging can do is really bridge that connection and provide you with the opportunity to have that interaction. So if I speak to a retailer or an e-commerce brand or any brand and say, “What would you do if you could talk directly to all of your consumers at scale, at very reasonable costs, because you’re not relying on humans, you’re relying on increasingly sophisticated AI, would that be of interest?” I’m sure a lot of them would say, “Yes.” And then what do we do? Well then, that’s the next question.

Kik and other messaging platforms are creating that connectivity. It’s not social. Social is a place for me to hear updates and information. And increasingly there’s noise. I use Twitter a lot. Personally, I’m on Twitter. It’s basically like being in a really crowded bar. Lots of people are talking and shouting all at the same time. And I’ve got to kind of look around and see which conversations make sense to me. Great for me, because I like to consume that news. But it’s pretty bad for each of those individual people that are talking, because, well, who’s even listening? Whereas, with messaging, we walk into a room, and it’s just me and the brand. Maybe it’s like speed-dating. The brand has to be very good and offer me something quickly. But if it does, “Well, you’ve got my attention, and I’m sitting here, and I’m willing to learn more and buy something from you.” So that’s what we think messaging can do.

Key Takeaway: Stay Informed

Andrew: Any closing things that kind of six and seven figure store owners should be considering going forward if they wanna stand in the edge and stay relevant in a world that may increasingly be driven by messaging?

Paul: I think fundamentally it’s, yeah, start reading a bit more about messaging and look at what retailers and brands that the consumers are starting to do on platforms like Kik, Facebook, Telegram, Slack, and in Asian markets. I think the other thing that’s important with messaging is that it’s not entirely digital. It’s not only online. With the Kik platform, for example, we have Kik codes. These are a kind of like QR codes, but I think they’re better. The reason they’re better is that no regular consumer actually has a QR code reader on their phone. No one installs that except people like me that work in the industry. Regular Joe Public, not interested. So they just can’t scan a QR code. But anyone that has a Kik can immediately scan a Kik code, and that can deliver immediate contextual information.

So as an example, I could be walking in a mall and go past a coffee chain store and see a code on the wall. I could scan the code, and the bot could immediately chat to me and say, “Hey, Paul. Hope you’re having a great day. Pretty hot outside, right? Why don’t you come inside for an iced coffee? If you come in right now, we’ll give you a free doughnut as well.” So it’s personal. It’s contextual. It knows what’s happening. And it entirely at my discretion. You know, it wasn’t an ad. I didn’t just get that thing pushed at me. It was me that decided to engage that.

Messaging bridges physical and digital worlds as well, which provides even more opportunity for retailers that have a footprint as well.

Andrew: Paul, I really appreciate you coming on, looking forward to following Kik going forward. Thanks for weighing in on this.

Paul: Thanks very much.

Andrew: Want to connect with and learn from other proven eCommerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit, vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at eCommerceFuel.com. Thanks so much to our podcast producer, Laura Serino, for all of her hard work in making this show possible and to you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That will do it for this week, but looking forward to seeing me again next Friday.

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