US: Macy’s Uses IBM’s Watson For New AI Mobile Tool

Macy’s has launched trials of a new mobile web tool named ‘Macy’s On Call’, which allows customers to interact with an AI-powered platform via their mobile devices.

The department store chain is using IBM Watson, via intelligent engagement platform Satisfi, to deliver what it terms a “first-of-its-kind solution that will enhance the customer in-store shopping experience”.

The mobile companion, accessed via a mobile browser, allows customers to input natural language questions regarding each store’s unique product assortment, services and facilities and receive a customised response.  The engagement is conducted through a simple question and answer interface leveraging Watson’s Natural Language Classifier.

Macy’s said the feature is being trialled in 10 stores, noting that it was created as each Macy’s store is different, and consumers increasingly prefer mobile platforms. It noted that the system will evolve as it learns more about each store’s customers, adding that it also incorporates a Spanish language feature to serve a broader subset of its customer base in select stores.

The first phase of the pilot applies Watson’s natural language capabilities in a physical retail environment, focused on three customer centric categories – each store’s unique products, services and layout. Satisfi accesses Watson’s technology from the cloud and this model is helping facilitate ongoing learnings and improvements to the solution. As the programme progresses, Macy’s aims to closely study and gauge other potential uses of the technology, with the goal of implementing Watson’s full cognitive dialog capabilities in future phases.

Of the 10 stores, five serve as the base learning stores, with the Watson implementation deployed solely as a customer led self-serve initiative. The other five have an enhanced layer of associate support available to complement the virtual interactions, and customers can input a request for face-to-face engagement with a Macy’s specialist associate.

Macy’s noted: “This programme, in partnership with Satisfi and leveraging the power of IBM Watson, will help us explore new ways to engage one-on-one with customers in-store, providing them another level of service right at their fingertips.”