I just tried to order flowers through a Facebook Messenger bot, and left thinking ‘why bother?’

caption
Mark Zuckerberg at f8.
source
Facebook

The tech industry is having a love affair with bots, and Facebook’s big news today was the introduction of bots in Messenger, which will allow users to talk directly to businesses. Even Business Insider’s planning one!

But they’re not exactly easy to find or get started with. And based on this first experience, I don’t exactly understand why anyone would use them – at least not to order products online.

Here’s what it was like.


You start with the normal Messenger screen. (I blurred everything to protect the privacy of my contacts.) So where are the bots? First, you have to pull down from the top.


Then you have to tap in that search box.


There they are, in the second row. Eventually you’ll be able to search for them by name, too, but there aren’t very many available yet.

source
screenshot

It’s my mom’s birthday, so I figured I’d order her some flowers from the 1-800-Flowers.com bot. Easy enough – just click “Order flowers.”

source
screenshot

It starts by asking where you want them delivered. OK…

source
screenshot

I want them delivered today.


Pick a category…


Pick a delivery location….

source
screenshot

More information to enter, including a note, my email address, my phone number….

source
screenshot

Then you have to confirm each step. You can save your info for later transactions, which would be nice if I wanted to use this app again.

source
screenshot

Finally I got to the end and it wanted my credit card number. This is where I left the app, not because I didn’t want to enter a credit card number, but because I realized that there was literally no advantage to using this bot over just ordering flowers online. Maybe Messenger bots will be useful in other scenarios, like talking to customer service, but my first interaction with them was underwhelming.