Macy’s is experimenting with a new form of location-aware intelligent assistance. Leveraging technology from Satisfi and IBM Watson, Macy’s is rolling out what it calls “Macy’s On Call” in a select number of stores. The service acts like an intelligent assistant that understands the customer’s current location without having to ask.
Customers shopping in a Macy’s store that supports the On Call service can enter questions in natural language in a mobile web user interface. For example, a customer searching for a new toaster oven might ask where the kitchen appliances are located and the On Call automated assistant will direct the customer to the right spot.
The new service combines two technologies: Satisfi offers a platform that can ascertain a user’s location from their smartphone data and that can respond to the user’s natural language requests. IBM Watson provides a cognitive computing platform that understands natural language inquiries and searches through complex knowledge sources to find information with the highest probability of answering a specific question.
The combination of location-based awareness, natural language understanding, and the ability to find answers about products, product locations within specific stores, inventory, pricing, etc., enables Macy’s to offer an innovative and powerful new type of intelligent assistance to its shoppers.
During the recent MobileBeat 2016 event, there was lots of discussion about engaging with customers while they’re inside the store. Nichele Lindstrom, director of digital with Whole Foods, noted in a presentation that over 50% of online recipe searches happen in the grocery store aisle. Whole Foods decided to launch a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help its shoppers with recipes and other questions.
Macy’s On Call is an example of another natural language-based self-service offering that helps customers when and where they need it most: on-site at a retail location in the direct path to purchase. Now that the technology supports this type of assistance, we’re likely to see more brands extend the reach of self-service to follow customers wherever they go.