Using artificial intelligence, 1-800-Flowers.com has developed a digital doorkeeper or concierge, which analysts say will add a new dimension to the customer service in retail sector. The specialty gift retailer claims it is the first in the sector to use artificial intelligence to boost shopping experience.
Dubbed GWYN (Gifts When You Need), the concierge will engage consumers in conversation, helping them figure out the ‘perfect stuff’ they want to buy. Using IBM Watson’s question analysis API, GWYN can interact with customers using natural language.
Instead of filling out a lengthy form on website, consumers can just begin conversing with concierge. If you tell it that you are looking for a gift, it will ask a number of questions about the occasion, sentiment and who the gift is for.
As you go on describing the product you are looking for, the concierge makes a tailored gift suggestion. Once you make your choice, you will use the platform’s conversational interface to place the order.
GWYN is not the first digital shopping assistant to rely on Watson’s natural-language abilities. In March, The North Face launched a similar mobile app that let users talk to Watson to find the right item of clothing.
But 1-800-Flowers.com appears to be at the forefront of investing in artificial intelligence. Last month, the company became one of the first two retailers to launch a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. A week later, the retailer employed Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, that lets consumers order flowers strictly by voice command.
Retail is no longer about having the latest products on the shelves in brick-and-mortar stores or having a cool website. It’s becoming much more than that, and artificial intelligence is playing the role of ‘game-changer’ in the sector.
“The world’s data is growing at a tremendous rate, and the retail industry is at the forefront of tapping into this unstructured information to better cater to the modern consumer,” said Keith Mercier, IBM Watson retail leader.
“As a company that embraces emerging technologies, we are thrilled to offer our customers another new and innovative way to engage with us,” said Chris McCann, president, 1-800-Flowers.com.
GWYN is available for mobile and desktop users, interacting with customers via natural language by typing answers to questions.