Chatbots And The Social Commerce Revolution: Event Roundup

Yesterday we held our ‘Chatbots And The Social Commerce Revolution’ discussion at We Are Social’s HQ here in London. Despite the early start, the event was attended by over 130 people, and we were lucky to have some exceptional guest speakers make an appearance. If you missed the event, you can still watch the full live stream on our Facebook page, but for those who still enjoy the written form, here’s a quick breakdown of the what the beings said about the bots.

The first speaker of the day was Caroline Lucas-Garner, Strategy Director at We Are Social. Like many of the speakers, Caroline pointed out that social commerce has been on our collective radars for a long time and that awareness around it still remains quite low. Despite its relatively gradual penetration, she pointed to Instagram’s tap to view tagging and Viber’s in-message product displays as clear signs that the revolution is beginning to gain momentum. She also explained that social commerce sits at a triangular juncture between consumer, commerce, and culture, and those brands looking to explore this channel should take the time to find out exactly where they sit within that framework. Her key takeaway from the day: “Use chatbots to guide users across the full purchase journey. Allow them to bridge the gap between consideration and conversion.”

Next up we had We Are Social’s Innovation Director Tom Ollerton and Hayley Tillson, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Domino’s. The pair had worked together on Domino’s incredibly successful chatbot, Dom, a wise-cracking Messenger bot who makes ordering a pizza a breeze. Domino’s have very much positioned themselves as a food-tech business, as Hayley was keen to point out. She referenced their explorations of voice activation and, of course, the true genius that was the ‘Easy Order’ button, one to be avoided if you’re incredibly weak willed when it comes to garlic and herb dip.

She urged brands to create bots that have “real purpose” and agreed with Tom Ollerton’s much-retweeted statement that “the success of a chatbot is down to the copy, not the code”.

She left the audience with three key considerations:

1. Create a character first

2. Design a conversation-based ordering process

3. Don’t let the internet beat you

We were then joined by Sam Poullain, Senior Growth Marketing Manager at Skyscanner,  the only speaker to have a shirt more colourful than his slide deck.

Sam told the audience that it was key to strike a balance between bots and people, and that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if the odd epic fail crops up. He said that Skyscanner has been taking huge inspiration from China’s WeChat, where social commerce is well and truly booming among its 800 million users. Skyscanner initially wanted to use bots to reduce the steps involved in booking a flight but found that browsing for holidays is something that people relish, and so had to find a way of providing an innovative solution that still had a human touch to it.

His key takeaways for the crowd: “Only employ a bot in your customer journey if the technology really solves a customer problem. Don’t do it just because it’s new.”

Our final speaker of the day was Morgan Fitzsimons, Acting Global Head of Content, Social & Broadcast at ASOS. Morgan talked about the fragmented customer journey that sees younger shoppers now opting to search for products/brands within messenger apps as opposed to search engines.

She believes social plays a major role in facilitating the cornerstone of ASOS’ business: friction-free shopping experiences. In order to draw customers into this new buying cycle, she said that ASOS had focused on strengthening its brand message at the top of the funnel and that this had paid off in the form of increased conversion.

Her final signoff to us: “You don’t always get it right, but be comfortable iterating and we’ll get there eventually.”

If you’ve enjoyed this latest event from We Are Social, join us on May 9th for our ‘Discerning Drinker’ event, where we’ll be meeting with some of the leading names in the industry to discuss how technology can help alcohol brands engage with the ever-evolving consumer demand.