Conversational Commerce: Are You Ready?

Guest post by Jason Miller.

Texting Dominos a pizza emoji and a deliveryman showing up at you door “30 minutes” later with a pizza exemplifies the integration of Business to Consumer (B2C) transactions. Well, the same transactional principles may forever change the B2C relationship. Imagine if instead of sending a text and receiving a pizza, you could text your local grocery store your shopping list or text Amazon about a product you want—and have it delivered the same day.

These possibilities represent the next evolution of the B2C relationship called, “conversational commerce,” which has already taken Asia by storm. It allows users to order on-demand services and products through text messages or other messaging services, established a new commercial platform that may change the game yet again. TechCrunch reported that: China’s WeChat generates over $1B in revenue from its 440 million users, which allows them to use text messages to their pay bills and order products, while Japan’s LinePay takes a similar approach.

The principle is most mobile-phone users spend most of their time texting; why should they have to switch a different app, search for the product, enter their payment information, and then place their order. But soon consumers will be able too simply send a text to the company they wish to make a purchase from. Expanding texting’s potential to making payments, buying products, etc. may alleviate these cumbersome tasks altogether.

While at first-glance commercial communication may seem a bit novel, the United States has certainly taking notice of its impact in Asia. American tech-giants, like Facebook and Google, are jumping on the bandwagon. TechCrunch noted that Facebook, for example, is in the process of implementing these capabilities into their “Messenger App,” allowing users to order food and even speak with businesses directly. Meanwhile, many start-ups have also developed to take their share of this expanding market. Such as Magic, a concierge-type delivery service that lets uses order almost any product for delivery through text, which oddly enough I started using the day I read about it.

Though the market is young in the States, its validity as a commercial platform is clear and a possibly lucrative one at that. If there’s money to be made, then I think its safe to presume that large companies will attempt to adapt their current systems to implement this developing commercial space within their business model (i.e., Facebook, etc.). Hopefully allowing me text a masseuse to and recreate my favorite scene from Boy Meets World; Griff was my hero.

Note from the Digital Counselor:

Entrepreneurs and small business owners should be on the look out for ways to integrate this into their business model. Early adoption could be a standout feature and create a niche that may enable rapid growth. However, rapid growth necessitates the ability to scale quickly, which can be hard for a small business with little capital. Although a great tool, businesses looking to implement must look at potential impacts to their business model and ultimately their bottom line.

About the Author:

Jason Miller is law student at American University Washington College of Law. Jason is originally from Rockville, MD, and studied communications at University of Maryland. While in undgrad, Jason & his friends founded a globally followed music blog, with about 100k unique visitors per month. After graduating, Jason worked at the U.S. Senate for two years before going to law school.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, any other poster/blogger of this blog or any entity affiliated with blog posters. Any comments by do not reflect the views or ideas of any organization or individual that may or may not be affiliated or associated. 

March Madness: Don’t let the fun harm your business…

March Madness is one of the biggest social events of the spring. We all create brackets and compete against our peers to see who can pick the winner! We attend a number of happy hours and parties to watch games while touting each point scored by your team of the evening.  

Well like the Super Bowl or the Olympics March Madness is a trademarked term and everyone needs to exercise care when using it. The mark is owned by a company partially owned by the NCAA. They are not extremely aggressive in protecting their rights, like the Olympic Committee, but when promoting an event, product or promotion it is a very important consideration.
This is not to say you cannot say or write the term March Madness but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it especially in conjunction with events and other promotions. This is a very nuanced distinction one that I will not venture to delineate. However, I will make the suggestion that it would be safer to stick to something  generic – like “it is tournament time again, and you can watch all the action at our Happy Hour this Thursday” – avoids any of the issues that might arise if you use the trademarked term in your commercial or advertisement.

Using March Madness in passing in your news, talk or entertainment programming is not going to get you into trouble. Trademark owners want the brand used and associated with the tournament. Trouble arises when using it as a branding term – trying to pass your station off as your “official March Madness station” or an advertiser suggesting that they were “the March Madness restaurant/Happy Hour” are much more likely to cause harm by trying to suggest an official connection between the product or service being sold and the trademarked term.

The issue is one of trademarks or service marks, not copyright. There is a copyright in the telecast itself, but the limitations on the right to use the name comes from trademark law.