Since 2020, the way people use social media platforms has evolved—and in more ways than one. Research shows people are spending more time on social platforms than ever, while messaging apps like WhatsApp have seen a massive increase in users (and a parallel rise in the amount of time users spend on the apps) over the past two years. 

Users, especially Gen Zers, are not only spending more time on social and chat apps; they’re also interacting with and buying from their favorite brands on these channels.  This is social commerce in action: when the entire shopping experience—from product discovery and research to checkout—takes place right on a social media platform.

How big is social commerce? Accenture projects that the value of the global social commerce industry will grow to $1.2 trillion by 2025. Knowing this, it’s clear that social media isn’t just about likes and retweets anymore. 

Social Commerce Is the Future of Retail

Social commerce is transforming the retail landscape. But this new era of retail doesn’t only present an opportunity to generate sales: in today’s cookie-less world, brands need new ways to track their engagements with customers, including the handling of care requests. The 1:1 conversations that happen on social media represent a golden opportunity for brands to answer questions and engage with customers in a genuine and meaningful way.

For all of the opportunities created by social commerce, however, the challenge for brands is this: How to manage thousands of conversations across multiple platforms, in various languages, 24/7 while still delivering top-quality experiences? 

The answer lies in the power of conversational AI. With conversational AI, brands can automate personalized 1:1 conversations on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Business Messages and other platforms in multiple languages and at scale, making it easy to deliver five-star CX, foster brand loyalty—and drive sales. 

Automating Social Commerce with Conversational AI

Conversational AI is just what it sounds like: artificial intelligence that you can chat with. Even if you haven’t heard the term “conversational AI” before, you probably have already engaged with the technology without being aware of it: major brands already use it to deliver first-class CX. 

Research shows today’s customers expect brands to be active across all social and messaging platforms, and they expect quick responses to inquiries. Conversational AI helps brands manage this constant influx of requests without breaking the bank. 

Unlike old-school chatbots—which use canned scripts to deliver simple answers to specific questions—conversational AI engages in dynamic chats that are personalized to each user. Thanks to advanced machine learning that enables the AI to become smarter over time, conversational AI virtual assistants can tailor responses that are unique. Not only that, they can ask their own questions of a user to gather more information and deliver ever-more personalized experiences. 

The ability to become more intelligent with time, to speak in multiple languages, and to take individual preferences into account when interacting with users is key to how conversational AI can manage thousands of personalized 1:1 conversations in real-time. 

Multiple Channels, One Solution

Imagine you’re a major apparel retailer juggling the many channels of your brand’s digital presence: website, Instagram, Facebook, Google Business Messages, and perhaps even a native app. You also have your legacy channels—phone and email—as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp to cover. That’s a lot of communications coming in and going out.

Rather than investing heavily in hiring dozens of new teammates, your brand can use an  AI-powered virtual assistant to answer simple inquiries (think store hours, order tracking and product questions) while letting humans take care of higher-value and more complex requests. 

Conversational AI assistants are intuitive: they know when a customer is ready to speak to a human, and can quickly make the handoff to a human teammate without missing a beat.

AI-powered virtual assistants help keep customer care costs low while ensuring that customers enjoy the level of service they’ve come to expect from a brand. On top of that, conversational AI helps drive sales by delivering personalized product recommendations to users directly in chat, creating upsell opportunities. 

Social Commerce x Conversational AI = Retail Success

Social commerce is indeed the future of retail—but without the power of conversational AI, brands of any size will struggle to keep up with the never ending flow of customer care requests. 

Forward thinking brands should invest in optimizing and automating their social commerce practice today, to ensure they’re positioned for success in the future. After all: there’s no denying that both social commerce and conversational AI are here to stay. 

Find out more about how conversational AI can supercharge your CX game by booking a demo of today. Heyday by Hootsuite