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Facebook Messenger bots can now help you order flowers and shop for clothes

This ain't your mama's Messenger.

Facebook is beefing up its e-commerce capabilities by adding personal shopping features to its Messenger messaging app, exec David Marcus announced onstage Tuesday during the company’s F8 developer conference.

Users of the Messenger app will now be able to order flowers by simply chatting with 1-800-Flowers’ Facebook Messenger account. Facebook users will also be able to access an automated personal shopper by messaging with Spring, a mobile shopping app.

The two new commerce features are powered by chatbots, automated software designed to carry out mundane tasks or simulate a human in conversation. And they are evidence that Facebook believes it can transform its Messenger app from purely a communications tool into a modern-day version of the AOL portal.

In the case of 1-800-Flowers, users can ask the bot for suggestions and then order flowers through the app.

In Spring’s case, the chatbot will ask Messenger users a series of multiple-choice questions that narrow down their shopping search by filters such as gender, type of clothing and price. If you find something you want to purchase, you are directed to Spring’s mobile website, loaded in Facebook’s browser, to complete the transaction.

“I can guarantee you you’ll spend way more money than you want on this,” joked Marcus. “It’s very addicting.”

This is great news for Facebook, of course. If users spend money with brands on Messenger, Facebook could eventually take a cut of each transaction.

The idea of connecting users and businesses isn’t new to Messenger. Facebook first announced this concept at last year’s F8 conference, but has slowly been adding partners and features to the app in hopes of making Messenger the go-to place for people to connect with retailers and brands.

While Facebook can drive significant traffic to e-commerce websites and apps, it still has yet to prove that it can be a platform on which people want to shop. But if you’re a fashion app like Spring and you want to get your brand in front of new users, testing a new service on Messenger seems like a worthy bet.

Facebook also announced that CNN was launching its own chatbot to provide news updates via Facebook Messenger.

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