Kik Is Now Letting Users Interact With More Than One Chatbot in the Same Conversation

New 'concierge bot' is like a friend helping you shop

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Kik has a new way for users to interact with multiple chatbots.

Today, the Canadian messaging app is rolling out a new line of fashion and beauty bots that will be able to help users decide on styles of clothing or makeup—both by themselves or in conversations with friends—in way that could help drive sales for brands like H&M, Sephora and Victoria's Secret.

The first rollout is focused on teenagers, who tend to use the messaging app more frequently and for longer periods of time than other age groups. According to Jaclyn Ling, Kik's director of retail, the goal is to make the messaging experience feel more like shopping in real life. The launch comes just a few months after Kik introduced a way for users to share bots with each other rather than only accessing them through Kik's bot shop.

"We understand that fashion and beauty is a really key category for teenagers," Ling told Adweek. "And what's special about teenagers and shopping is it's a very social experience."

Here's how it works: Lets say a user wants to shop using the H&M bot. While using the bot to pick an outfit, they'll be able to bring in another bot—a "concierge bot"—that is supposed to be like a friend helping along the shopping journey. That bot might showcase celebrity styles based on magazine photos or styles for a certain occasion. Ling said the concierge bot will then be able to suggest items based on H&M's inventory and what type of style the user is looking for.

In another example, Ling said a user might bring in the Sephora chatbot to look at makeup styles and then pull in a beauty "concierge bot" that can suggest YouTube videos based on the product. She said a typical teenager or other consumer might have two or three website tabs open with various products, while also having another tab open with reviews and yet another with YouTube tutorials.

"The idea here is creating a more seamless experience that can kind of keep it all in one experience so that the user doesn't need to jump from one web page to web page or even bot to bot," Ling said.

The bots could also end up driving actual revenue for retailers. Through ShopSense, an API for aggregating retailers, Kik is able to split revenue that comes from a user buying a product after they go to a retailer's website via a chatbot experience. The revenue sharing rate—which isn't negotiated directly between Kik and the retailer—varies anywhere from low single digits to the higher range of 18 percent.

Branded bots seem to be catching on since Kik first launched its bot shop earlier this year. Last month, Kik announced users had sent more than 2 billion brand chatbot messages. However, it's not the only platform that brands are trying on for size. Earlier this month, Burberry began experimenting with a Facebook Messenger chatbot during London Fashion Week. Ling said Kik is planning to introduce additional branded chatbots. 

"I definitely think that as a whole the industry is moving toward this and that it sees the benefit of building chat experiences," Ling said.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.
Publish date: September 29, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT