Macy’s Is Testing
An AI-Powered Shopping Assistant
(Author : Marielle Castillo)
Chain department store Macy’s just announced Macy’s On Call, an in-store shopping assistant powered by artificial intelligence, developed in partnership with IBM Watson and intelligent engagement platform Satisfi, to deliver an innovative solution to enhance the in-store shopping experience.
The cognitive mobile web tool will help shoppers get information while navigating 10 of the stores around the United States participating in this pilot. It allows customers to input natural language questions regarding specific products, departments, services and facilities, and in turn receive a customized response. The initiative is based on the idea that consumers are increasingly likely to turn to their smartphones than they are to an associate at a physical store.
Accessed via macys.com/storehelp, the tool uses Watson’s Natural Language Classifier to interact with the customer through a simple question and answer interface. The interface is available for customers in Spanish at select locations, via Watson Language Translation API. The system will become smarter and more accurate as it learns more about each store’s customers, based on popular searches categories and most asked questions.
Five of the 10 selected locations will serve as the base learning stores, where the tool acts solely as a customer-led self-serve initiative. The other five stores have an additional feature that allows shoppers to request face-to-face assistance from a Macy’s associate. This mobile tool could eventually help users style outfits and other services, and significantly help Macy’s develop deeper relationships with its customers.
This first phase of Macy’s On Call pilot will run through late fall of 2016. As the program progresses, the retailer hopes to assess other potential uses of the technology, and to implement Watson’s full cognitive dialog capabilities in the future.