Chatbots are the first foray into artificial intelligence (AI) for many brands allowing marketers to engage ‘conversationally’ with consumers, generate revenue and automate low-level services such as FAQs. Chatbots have come to prominence since WeChat and then Facebook Messenger offered tools for their development. While many chatbots are text-based, the advent of virtual voice-activated digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s Siri and Google Voice, combined with AI and language processing tools, means bots will develop in complexity.


A chatbot is an automated digital tool that uses audio or text methods to conduct a conversation, simulating human behaviour.

Key Insights

1. AI-powered virtual agents are enabling effective conversational commerce

A virtual agent is an artificially intelligent system that a human can converse with by voice or by text chat. Virtual agents use all possible context to determine how to interpret and respond to a question. Their usefulness centres on the concept of ‘intent’: a determination of what a customer wants from an interaction with a company, picked from a pre-determined list of possible intents that are described at the right level of detail that the agent can act upon.