Updated: Jan 18, 2020
Image credit: Pexels.com
by Anton Pereiaslavtsev and Krista Krumina
Apple inaugurated an era of mobile apps with the launch of the App Store in 2008, but ten years on, users are experiencing “app fatigue”.
According to comScore, the majority of U.S. consumers still download zero apps per month.
As Ben Schippers, the writer for TechCrunch says: ''New apps, by in large, are not providing nearly enough value for consumers to come back to.''
Unless there’s a very compelling reason to download a new app, for most, and especially the older folks, it's just not worth the effort.
People are constantly running out of space on their phones, many can’t remember their app store passwords and just don’t want to learn how to use yet another app.
And chat apps (or chatbots or instant apps, as they’re also known) that run on messaging platforms, address many of the traditional mobile apps’ shortcomings.
CHAT TO THE RESCUE
In recent years, messaging apps have not only become the #1 place where people communicate, they’ve also emerged as major e-commerce platforms.
From WeChat in China to Facebook Messenger in the US and Europe, billions of users use messaging platforms daily not just to chat, but to shop and get stuff done.
You can quickly plan and book travel on HipMunk’s intuitive Messenger app, buy concert tickets on Ticketmaster Assistant, bank with American Express and turn your family vacation photos into personalized gifts with Zebra Instant.
Let’s look at the four main reasons why chat apps are replacing many mobile apps:
#1: CHATBOTS ARE INSTANT
The main advantage of chatbots is that, unlike mobile apps, they’re instant. There’s no need to download anything. You can begin using the bot within just three steps compared to the 11-15 steps (we counted!) to start using a new app:
1. Open Messenger
2. Search for the chatbot
3. Start the conversation
It’s that simple.
#2: NO LEARNING CURVE
Users spend on average 23 minutes every day messaging each other - they’ve become intimately familiar with messaging apps and their interfaces.
And, according to comScore, for many people, Facebook Messenger has become one of the apps they can't go without, and it's their home app:
By building services atop of popular messaging apps, we allow people to use our services without making them learn how to use them.
#3: FEWER ACCOUNTS, MORE FREEDOM
In addition to the pain of downloading and learning a new app, many apps require you to create an account to use them.
As much as 88% of users don’t want to create new accounts on websites, and the same applies to mobile apps. As a business, you're pissing off customers by forcing them to create accounts.
Chatbots solve that problem.
When it comes to online shopping, simply letting customers shop inside Messenger is a great way to reduce friction and boost conversion rates.
And with Facebook’s introduction of native Messenger payments, users can purchase an item with just three taps -- without entering their credit card info or shipping address.
And that takes us to...
#4: CONTINUOUS USER EXPERIENCE
Were you ever in the middle of making a purchase inside an app only to get interrupted with a phone call and then having to start all over again?
Today, people have shorter attention spans than goldfish - just around 8 seconds. We're so easily distracted that we leave many things unfinished.
When you close your mobile app before you've finished what you started, you have to start everything from scratch when you later re-open it. That's a big pain!
With chatbots, it's different.
Chatbot conversations won't disappear because you close your Messenger. You can come back and pick up exactly where you left off no matter how long you've been away. All conversations are saved, and your chat history is searchable.
You can start shopping on your smartphone and complete your purchase on a tablet or desktop.
This gives you an incredible freedom to use the device of your choice (eg., start the order on mobile and finish on a desktop) throughout the shopping journey.
When combined with smart retargeting that takes people back to Messenger and encourages users to continue the conversation, chatbots can become a goldmine for online businesses.
Every interaction is unique and continuous, and that's the level of personalization chatbots are famous for.
While chatbots are unlikely to replace all apps, many apps designed for simple tasks such as shopping, customer service, and dating are in danger.
For consumers, chatbots offer many advantages over apps, including the ease of use, immediacy and instant familiarity all while reducing developing costs for businesses.
Chatbots have emerged to be a force to reckon with.
Watch this space.