Online shopping definitely has its advantages. With the ability to shop for just about anything from the comfort of your own home, there is no denying the convenience factor. While this is a positive in many regards, you do lose some of the benefits that come with shopping in person.
When you shop online, you have thousands or even millions of different products to choose from. This may be another one of the positive aspects, but it can make it difficult or overwhelming to find what you need. Unless you’re shopping for a specific item, it could take you hours to sort through enough listings to find the right product for you.
Additionally, you no longer have access to the physical product when you shop online. With some purchases, this may not be an issue; when you are shopping for clothes, it can cause trouble. You never really know how well the item is going to fit or how it will look until it arrives in the mail. Furthermore, the online experience lacks the personal touch of being able to ask a human sales associate for assistance.
Online retailers are soon going to be able to leverage Artificial Intelligence and Conversational Design as they continue to come into their own. By partnering with Iphone app developers and other specialty agencies, online retailers are going to be able to develop tools that help overcome some of the issues that have contributed to a less than positive online shopping experience for consumers.
Connecting Shoppers with a Human Stylist
One way for retailers to offer a personal stylist experience online is to use AI to connect consumers with a human stylist. The client could ask an app for style recommendations; the program would use Artificial Intelligence to analyze user data that would provide information about their personal style and match them with a compatible stylist.
Poshmark is one brand that’s already starting to experiment with a system like this. Customers can access the Stylist Match service through the app or with an Amazon Alexa device. They can then ask for recommendations for different types of occasions. The service uses AI to match them with the right stylist, who can then use information provided by the service to make style recommendations that will be sent directly to the user’s ‘dressing room’.
The AI Stylist
As an alternative to the human stylist, some companies are developing apps and chatbots that can provide the same advice. With an AI stylist, users could download an app or contact a specially designed Messenger bot.
If connected to a service that stores data about the user’s style, the AI could then analyze the information to provide recommendations. Additionally, the bot could be programmed to ask questions that would help inform its recommendations and account for any factors that may influence the user’s preference at a given time.
While it is not associated with any specific brand or retailer, Epytom provides a good example of how this would work. Epytom is a Messenger chatbot that delivers personalized style advice to the user’s phone. Instead of suggesting products to buy, it bases it recommendations on the user’s existing wardrobe. The chatbot accounts for things like personal style, the weather, and your agenda. With this information, Epytom can make daily style recommendations that make the user’s life easier.
Presently, both concepts work well, but come with compromises. A system that uses a human stylist is going to offer a level of conversational interaction that outperforms most fully autonomous programs, but a chatbot stylist will be easier to scale and more cost effective.
However, chatbots will get better. As they do, they’ll be able to offer a conversational experience that grows ever closer to that of a real human.