Are Messaging Chatbots a $40 Billion Market?

With consumers spending more time on messaging platforms, businesses looking to get close to their customers need to look beyond mobile apps and websites. Messaging chatbots and smart agents allow brands to reach their customers where they spend most of their time.

The reliance on mobile apps as the primary means for engaging with their mobile customers is an aging strategy, rapidly fading in relevance. Customers no longer flock to the app stores on their iPhones and Android devices. At least not with the frenzy of the early days.

What’s more is that while millions of mobile apps are still downloaded every year, 1-in-4 are abandoned after a single use. Roughly half of mobile customers don’t download any apps whatsoever in a given month.

Why Now for Chatbots

Well, most people are spending their time on messaging platforms. They easily connect with their families and friends there. And these platforms provide more than instant messaging and games. Already users can trade video clips, photos, news, and make video calls. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how messaging chatbots can emerge as the place for e-commerce and consumer transactions.

Rapidly Growing Messaging Platforms

The top four global messaging platforms — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber — have 2.1 billion monthly active users. Businesses that have a Facebook Messenger chatbot alone will find themselves with the ability to communicate with one billion monthly active users. Building a Facebook Messenger chatbot for your Facebook page is a logical extension of your social media and e-commerce strategies. Messaging platforms have embedded themselves within the flow of people’s daily lives.

And while much needs to happen to accommodate the commercial opportunity, chatbots and messaging could be a massive market. Ben Wilson of Pacific Crest estimates that it could represent a $44.5 billion addressable market within the U.S. Even a more conservative estimate would still peg the opportunity for e-commerce use cases alone at approximately $2–3 billion in the short-term.

Chatbot Market Size

Overall total retail sales were $4.6 trillion for the US in 2015. Benchmarked against total online sales of $342 billion and mobile e-commerce of $104 billion, it’s easy to see why all brands should have a Facebook Messenger chatbot or messaging presence.

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