It’s been ten months since Facebook announced Business on Messenger, which lets businesses integrate into the chat app and communicate directly with customers, and the initial signs are looking very positive.

Facebook hopes businesses will embrace Messenger to reach customers, take reservations, and even sell stuff. This is already happening in Asia. Chinese users buy cinema tickets on WeChat, play the lottery on it, shop on it and even book travel over it. As chat apps become more popular and people spend more time on them, it’s clear companies will soon have a very big role to play.

Up until now, Twitter has been the social media tool of choice for disgruntled customers in particular to complain about cancelled flights or poor service. But it’s public and there isn’t always the feeling that you’re speaking to an individual. With 800 million users, Messenger offers businesses access to more than twice the number of people who log onto Twitter and it offers them a private channel for communication.

Enterprise social software company Zendesk believes Business on Messenger will be critical to building the next wave of ecommerce businesses. “What is going to differentiate retailers in the coming decade is not their ability to scale or do logistics. Amazon has nailed that,” says Adrian McDermott, a senior vice president of product management at Zendesk. “The most important thing you need to do is establish a brand personality. Messaging is a fantastic, scalable way to build one-on-one relationships with consumers.”

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