Facebook Messenger gets “Buy” button

Facebook is making purchasing through Messenger easier with a new "buy" button that lets users make payments directly in the app.

The tool is being tested by several retailers, and the company is planning a wider launch this year.

Roughly five months after Facebook opened its Messenger app to let retailers and brands to build e-commerce-enabled chat bots, the social network today launched Messenger Platform v1.2.

The updated platform gives retailers more tools to drive shoppers to buy and makes it easier for shoppers to complete purchases through Facebook.

Previously, to buy something like a bouquet through 1-800-Flowers’ Messenger bot, you had to click a button that took you out of Messenger to a web page where you had to type in your credit card and shipping information. It was annoying, especially if you had already attached that information to your Facebook Messenger profile in order to send and receive money from friends.

Now, people can have Messenger automatically plug in the credit card and address information attached to their Messenger profiles when buying something from a Messenger bot without any need to leave Facebook’s app. Companies have to use either Stripe or PayPal to process these payments, according to Facebook Messenger’s developer documentation.

When a retailer creates an ad that will appear within the Facebook news feed, the merchant can now drive a consumer to open Messenger when the shopper clicks the ad’s call-to-action button, such as Shop Now or Learn More.

That click will open a Messenger thread with either a copy of the ad or a message that the retailer crafts.

Similar to existing Facebook ads, developers and businesses will have the option to select their target audiences and delivery times. By opening the Messenger thread rather than driving the consumer off of Facebook, the social network aims to keep the entire transaction within the Facebook ecosystem.

“We believe the potential for the Messenger Platform is huge and we continue to invest in making it better for developers to build and create,” Facebook writes.

Facebook says 34,000 developers have joined the Messenger platform and they have built 30,000 bots. That’s a significant jump from the 11,000 bots that Facebook noted were on Messenger in July.


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