Sign up for online retail news and stats delivered each week.
How I sent Mark Zuckerberg flowers using a Facebook Messenger bot
Facebook has positioned Messenger as a universal app for getting things done. Can you really buy flowers through it? Yes, you can.
Today at Facebook’s F8 conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pitched bots within Messenger as the new apps, a universal way people will be able to conduct transactions such as sending flowers. To test this pitch, I decided to send him a bouquet using Messenger’s new ability. And it worked!
In fact, it worked surprisingly well. I placed the order in about five minutes — no web, no app, just me interacting with a bot run by 1-800-Flowers. Zuckerberg had joked during his F8 keynote today that such bots mean we might never need to dial 1-800-Flowers again. More accurately, it might be that in certain cases, we never need to type in their URL and place an order through the web again.
Ready for the tour? Let’s go.
Businesses on Messenger
It began by me adding 1-800-Flowers as a contact in Messenger. That was perhaps the most challenging part. Right now, it’s hit or miss on whether Messenger seems to suggest businesses. Sometimes it seems to work; sometimes not.
This is likely to improve shortly. When it works, a simple search for “flowers” found 1-800-Flowers within Messenger, along with other “Bots & Businesses,” as shown below:
The way I actually added them was using one of the new Messenger scan codes, which businesses are able to share or display via their Facebook pages and in other ways. Facebook handed out cards today with a few companies with their codes. I scanned the 1-800-Flowers code (Yes, it’s blurry — it’s hard to take a screen shot before the code actually scans!):
That found the 1-800-Flowers account on Messenger, which was added to my contacts after prompting me to “Get Started,” as shown below (I’ve shortened the actual screen shot to eliminate some white space):
Ordering by bot
Getting started brought up two prompts, one of which was to order flowers. I selected that and was asked for an address:
I knew the first line of Facebook’s headquarters off the top of my head, but not the rest. So, I only entered the street address — “1 Hacker Way” — to see what would happen. To my surprise and relief, it found and suggested the entire address:
It also asked me when I wanted to send them. Originally, I went for tomorrow, but I later changed my mind, scrolled back up and selected today. C’mon — Mark’s worth it, right?
Choices not exactly what wanted, but still worked
Next, as you see above, I was asked what category of flowers I wanted to send. This was the first real issue I had. The categories (which you could swipe through) were Thank You, Roses, Love & Romance, Get Well and Birthday. None was really appropriate for what I wanted. Really, this was a failure that should have sent me to the website in the particular case — a “show more options” choice would be useful.
Wanting to press on, I decided to go for the “Thank You” category of flowers. That bought up a variety of choices. I thought the happy face arrangement seemed nice and picked it:
Next, I was asked for the name of who I was sending these to. Mark Zuckerberg, of course!
You can see that the bot assured me, “Great choice!” — a effort to have a human-like quality. Then it wanted Zuckerberg’s phone number. I told the bot, “He didn’t give me that,” which it didn’t like. “Whoops, that doesn’t look like a valid number. Try again,” I was told.
That sent me off to Google, where I did a search for Facebook’s corporate number and used that. Of course, if this was someone I knew well, I’d probably have their number at hand. So, no fault to the bot here. Really, all the blame belongs to Mark for not giving me his number. And here I’m sending him flowers, even!
Adding a note, saving my info
Next, it asked me if I wanted to send a short 200-character note. I jotted that I enjoyed the keynote and looked forward to never calling 1-800-Flowers again:
The bot also asked me for my email and phone number, then offered to save these for me for future use. It then asked for my billing address. Similar to the Facebook HQ address, I didn’t know our full company address for Marketing Land off-hand. I entered just the first line that I did know and once again, 1-800-Flowers-Bot suggested the correct full address. Moreover, it asked if I wanted to save that as a work address, as opposed to a home one. Nice.
Next, I got the final price and was asked to add my credit card, to pay for this. That took me over to Stripe, a payments processor. This felt a bit disconcerting, because I was jumped out of Messenger to do the payment:
Still, it was pretty straightforward. I selected the “Pay with Card” option that the Stripe screen presented. I entered my card info, with my billing info not needed, as presumably that had been passed along already by the flowerbot. I got a confirmation that I was all set and to “just go back to Messenger,” which caused me a little confusion on how to get back. A notification of my payment had come in at the same time, covering the “Back” link in the menu. But even my aging mind finally figured it out.
Flowers are go!
Back in Messenger, I was told my order was complete, plus my order number was shown, and I was told an email confirmation would be sent:
That email confirmation did arrive:
From start to finish, the process took 10 minutes. About half of that was me pausing to do screen shots. So fair to say, this was a pretty painless five-minute process.
Bots mean business
In my years since the internet emerged, I’ve been amazed that I could order easily online from my desktop. That gave way to being amazed that I could order easily from my smartphone, either through the mobile web or an app. I’m honestly amazed once again that I could place an order like this simply through messages.
For more about Facebook’s news on how businesses can use Messenger and bots, see our other stories below:
- Facebook Messenger has new ways for brands to meet its 900 million users
- Facebook’s Messenger Platform launched, allows businesses to build bots
- Facebook Messenger positioned as replacement for mobile web, apps & SMS
And Mark, if you’re reading, I hope you really did get the flowers. Share a picture of them on Facebook, and it’ll make a great postscript to this story.
Postscript: Wow, that was fast. The flowers have yet to arrive, but Mark Zuckerberg already said thanks: