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The Potential of In-App Chat for Retailers

Posted on 8.30.2015

Will this clothing item look good on me? It's something most shoppers question when considering a purchase, especially online where they cannot hold up the item, feel it and get a strong grasp of whether it will suit them or not.

There are, of course, emerging and established virtual fitting room technologies that let shoppers enter their exact measurements to get a better idea of the fit; user reviews also play a similar role as shoppers' peers give them even more information on which to make a decision.

The next phase of product consideration could be virtual collaboration within shopping apps. India-based e-commerce app, Flipkart, lets its users choose from a massive selection of fashion, electronic, books and other products, while providing them with alerts on deals and discounts. Its new messaging feature is what makes the app particularly interesting to watch though. Its in-app messaging system, dubbed Ping, is a way for users to drag and drop products or offers directly into conversations with their friends, in a format that is similar to WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $22 billion and has incorporated into its Messengar app.

By doing so, users can get instant feedback about a potential purchase from their friends (this could be especially useful when a group is buying an item together - see image). This type of real-time, in-app messaging removes the need to copy and text or email a link a shopper wants to share (thus leaving the retailer's app or website), which could prove to increase conversions. 

Flipkart's Ping in-app messaging also has the potential to help with customer service in that users could ask a dozen camera experts their opinion on a new Nikon camera, for example. The details of how experts can or will be used for this type of feature are unclear, but the possibilities are endless. A collaboration with a company like Needle (purely hypothetical), could leverage its vetted brand advocates in the in-app chat-like setting that Flipkart has created with Ping.

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