Macy’s Joins the Artificial Intelligence Game, Pilots IBM’s Virtual Assistant in its Stores
Macy’s is the latest in a string of companies using artificial intelligence to improve their shoppers’ in-store experience. The apparel and accessories retailer will be rolling out IBM’s Virtual Assistant, Watson in 10 locations as part of a new customer service feature, “Macy’s on Call.”
As per IBM, “Watson is a computer that builds upon advances in artificial intelligence so that it can engage in dialogue with people, learning over time how to improve the relevance of its answers and its conversational skills.” Macy’s hopes Watson will help them to understand what the most frequently asked questions are from shoppers as well as directing them to specific “pain points” within the shopping experience that they can potentially fix.
Watson, which will be incorporated into Macy’s mobile website will provide accurate, in-store location information, pointing consumers in the direction of their favorite brands, products, facilities and services. The technology is programmed per store, making information location specific.
While shoppers can expect quick response time, associates are still willing and able to come to the rescue if need be. In 5 of the 10 pilot stores, shoppers can use the Macy’s on Call service to connect directly with associates, whether it’s to ask a question or arrange a meeting within the store for additional assistance.
Macy’s is not the only retailer to utilize IBM’s Watson – popular winter gear brand The North Face and fitness gear retailer Under Armour also use the technology to help their shoppers find products and seek recommendations.
Artificial intelligence being used to improve the shopping experience is nothing new. Like augmented/virtual reality, brands and retailers are turning to the future to make for a more intuitive retail present. Research shows that 70% of US millennials say they, “would appreciate a brand or retailer using AI technology to show more interesting products.” Additionally, 72% of US millennials believe that “as the technology develops, brands using AI will be able to accurately predict what they want.” Truthfully, with humanoid robots making their commercial break and chatbots getting more and more perceptive, the retail landscape is changing and fast.
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