- Quick-service bakery chain Greggs created a transactional gifting bot on Facebook Messenger to let customers in the United Kingdom text to buy gifts and send them to friends, Mobile Marketing Magazine reported.
- For those in stores, the gifting bot works with Greggs' existing electronic point-of-sale system (EPOS) at more than 1,800 locations in the U.K., letting customers scan their smartphone to redeem a purchase. The company has plans to add third-party payment platforms such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Greggs developed the bot in collaboration with chatbot specialist Autosermo and Dentsu Aegis Network's mobile agency Fetch.
Greggs new chatbot is a way for the bakery chain to provide round-the-clock service to its customers as they rush to buy last-minute gifts for the holidays. A growing number of companies have developed chatbots to capitalize on the busy holiday shopping season and boost brand awareness among mobile-savvy consumers. Men's high-end fashion brand Mr Porter and Ray-Ban are among the brands that recently launched chatbots on Messenger to help people shopping for gifts.
Facebook has pushed to be the dominant chat platform for consumers and businesses in the past few years. Messenger is the most popular chat app worldwide, which signals why more marketers and brands are developing chatbots on the platform to engage with consumers, who are growing increasingly comfortable interacting with digital assistants. Facebook in October redesigned its Messenger app to make it simpler after years of overloading it with more features. Previously, it updated the platform with a test feature that lets businesses introduce new "personas" to a chatbot conversation. These features could encourage more brands to build more sophisticated chatbots as the technology gains traction among consumers.
Chatbot technology had somewhat of a rocky start of clunky conversations and limited capabilities, but have grown more popular with consumers as the tech has evolved. About half of U.S. consumers (52%) said they use the chat feature to get quick answers to questions, but their reactions to chatbots tend to be less favorable, per a survey by enterprise software developer CGS. The firm found that 40% of Americans prefer speaking to a human because chatbots don't provide detailed answers and can be less helpful. About 25% of customer service and support operations will use some kind of chat technology by 2020, according to research firm Gartner.