Facebook's standalone Messenger app already lets friends trade messages and photos — and now it's expanding to businesses, with a feature that Facebook says will cut down on email from retailers and streamline the customer-service experience.
"Businesses on Messenger," which Facebook unveiled as part of a larger expansion of Messenger during its annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, requires retailers to sign up for the service. When customers place an order, they may be prompted to head to Facebook Messenger if they need to chat with a representative or make any changes.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is launching the new retailer-focused Messenger service — which will start with clothing stores Everlane and Zulily — because calling a customer-service hotline can be a slow, arduous process and it "doesn't feel like the future." Plus, he said, businesses typically send numerous emails after an order: a confirmation number, an alert when the package has shipped, details with package-tracking numbers, etc. In Businesses on Messenger, customers can see all of that information in the app instead.
Facebook announced other new features at F8 including upcoming support for 360-degree video in Facebook's news feed and a "share sheet" that will make it easier to post updates to the company's various apps.
-- Julianne Pepitone