North Face launches new interactive shopping experience

The North Face announced the launch of a new interactive online shopping experience Monday. Powered by IBM's Watson, the outdoor retailer's new technology allows shoppers to use more natural conversation as they use the e-commerce site.

The dialogue-based recommendation engine, powered by Fluid – the e-commerce software company that actually built and designed the The Expert Personal Shopper (XPS) platform – gives customers outerwear recommendations tailored to their needs. Watson's questions seek to discover the shopper's usage and climate needs for specific outdoor activities.

"At The North Face, our mission is to inspire a global movement of outdoor exploration," said Todd Spaletto, The North Face president. "By tapping into the power of IBM's Watson, we can ensure our customers get the best jacket for the activities they love, whether that's ice climbing in Montana or skiing in Vermont. This not only improves their online shopping experience, it ultimately maximizes their outdoor experience."

The program is in beta form and went through a month-long pilot test on The North Face's e-commerce site. Customer engagement averaged two minutes in length, the platform had a 60 percent click-through rate and a majority of users said they would use it again.

"The retail industry, like many others, is awash in structured and unstructured data – from social media to text messages to customer reviews. By tapping into Watson, retailers now have the power to turn this data into meaningful insights that can make the shopping experience more intuitive, informed and enjoyable," said Stephen Gold, VP of IBM Watson's business development and partner program. "Market leaders like The North Face and Fluid are demonstrating how cognitive technologies can redefine how brands connect and engage customers."

The North Face is one of the founding brands in the outdoor space and received a blow earlier this month when founder Doug Tompkins died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile at the age of 72.

For more:
-See this The North Face press release

Related stories:
North Face founder dies in kayaking accident
North Face brings the outdoors to retail stores
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Outdoor outfitter REI is poised for a digital makeover
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