Generally speaking, AI bots are nothing more than a gimmick. Last February, Facebook reported that chatbots fail 70% of the time. But when the social network launched a competition to inspire innovation, the results were surprising.

UK retailer Marks & Spencer provided one of the more original entries with its Christmas Concierge on Facebook Messenger. M&S is the leader across social platforms in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Retail Europe 2017, and has double the Facebook community size of the next largest European retailer in L2’s study, making it unsurprising that M&S’s first experiment with AI was successful.

Chatbot

The Christmas Concierge offered plenty of Christmas inspiration during December. With daily tips on hosting, presents, and recipes, users were treated to a personalized way of interacting with M&S instead of being forced down the purchase funnel. The Concierge even made Christmas-themed jokes to present a more human side.

This success proves that targeted use of bots can provide online and in-store inspiration. Bots can also encourage brand interaction, an area where retailers often lag behind. While no other retailer in L2’s study provided a messenger bot over the holidays, 53% adopt Facebook Messenger as a customer service channel. Yet just 21% reply instantly, suggesting that they could benefit from an AI approach.

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