Saks chatbot helps shoppers pick holiday gifts

Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks introduces chatbots to help shoppers pick holiday gifts.

Customers are now getting holiday gift picking help from chatbots on Saks Fifth Avenue's website. The luxury department store chain has teamed up with artificial intelligence and mobile messaging company Headliner Labs to create this engaging, personalized experience.

Visitors to the Saks Fifth Avenue Facebook page or website will be able to engage in a questionnaire to help determine the ideal gift. 

Users of the gift guide bot will initially be prompted to answer four simple questions about the person for whom they are shopping. The bot then sorts through Saks' holiday gift guide to recommend a gift based on data collected. Products include men's, women's and children's. 

"There's no doubt that figuring out ideal gifts for the important people in your life can be a stressful process and the bot is meant to help relieve some of that stress by leveraging artificial intelligence. The bot receives certain inputs about the gift recipient, and then suggests gifts optimized for that person by intelligent algorithms. In this case, ROI stems from user engagement with the bot, user engagement with the Saks website, and of course sales," Caroline Klatt, the co-founder and CEO of Headliner Labs told FierceRetail. 

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So what are these four questions? Klatt says that the first question is meant to determine the gift's recipient: man, woman or child. After that, the next three questions get more specific on the gift recipient's personality and lifestyle preferences. 

"For example, if you're shopping for a male, the bot will ask: 'How does he like to ring in the New Year? Which would you find in his closet? What's his drink of choice?' Each question comes with five potential choices and the user will select one," she said. The bot then uses algorithms to process the collected data and recommend gifts from the Saks holiday catalogue. 

The chatbots are the latest technology issued by Saks in a growing demand for personalization.

"We are living in the era of personalization! From the content we consume through social media, to the ads we get served based on our browsing behavior, we are already accustomed to seeing products that we are predisposed to like, in the places we are spending the most time. What that means for retailers is that personalization online and in store is essential. Retailers have to talk directly to each customer and customize experiences for every shopper. Chatbots provide that opportunity online." Klatt said. 

Klatt noted that chat as a commerce channel has longevity.

"As consumers, we spend the vast majority of our mobile time inside of messaging platforms from SMS to Facebook Messenger to What's App, etc. Brands need to be here, inside of messaging apps, where their customers are spending time. Saks is an innovator and a leader, and we're thrilled to partner with their incredible digital team on their first ever chatbot."

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