Macy's taps IBM's Watson for mobile AI

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Macy's (NYSE:M) is launching a new mobile platform powered by IBM's Watson artificial intelligence and Satisfi, an intelligent engagement platform. "Macy's on Call" is being tested at 10 Macy's locations nationwide.

Shoppers at these locations can input questions via Macy's mobile website in natural language, wording questions more like how they would speak to a store associate. Watson's AI adapts and returns answers based on each store's distinctive layout and product assortment. Roughly 57 percent of mobile visits to Macy's come through a browser rather than an app.

There's also a Spanish-language feature to better serve Hispanic customers.

"At Macy's, we remain focused on identifying, testing and supporting new ideas and approaches that will help elevate service to our customers through technology. With an eye towards innovation, we are moving fast to test and scale up pilot programs that help enhance their experience with us," said Peter Sachse, Macy's chief growth officer. "This program, 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."

The 10 test sites were chosen to represent a cross-section of Macy's store portfolio. Five serve as the base learning stores, with the Watson implementation deployed solely as a customer led self-serve initiative. The other five locations have an additional feature that allows customers to request assistance through a face-to-face engagement with a Macy's specialist associate, according to the company.

"Macy's On Call" answers store navigation details provided by department, brand and product category, and provides information on in-store services available at each test location – from myStylist personal shoppers to Buy Online, Pick Up in-store counters, and store facilities including restrooms.

Macy's is looking to learn more about which features and services shoppers are interested in beyond language preferences. The first phase of "Macy's On Call" has already launched and is expected to run through late fall of this year.

The North Face recently launched a Watson-powered app, and 1-800-Flowers has used IBM's technology to create an AI concierge.

For more:
- see this IBM press release

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