Online wholesaler Boxed announced the launch of two autonomous shopping tools, Smart StockUp and Concierge.
The no-membership-fees marketplace made more than $100 million in revenue last year and is taking on Costco with its digital-only approach.
First, Smart StockUp uses machine learning with customer data to predict when shoppers will run low on a particular product. Then it easily allows the customer to simply reorder the product. In other words, the program reminds the customer so that the consumer does not need to remember.
And Concierge takes the program one step further. Using the same machine learning, Concierge not only predicts when a user is running low, but also fulfills the order and sends the product without the customer engaging at all. Boxed is referring to it as "hands-free shopping."
So how does the technology work? If a consumer is a frequent visitor at Boxed, she or he starts seeing recommendations for “Need These Now” and “Need These Soon” products, as Boxed estimates which items the customer will soon need to buy so that the shopper can easily just click to add the items to the cart.
"Autonomous shopping is the future, and the e-commerce industry is certainly shifting in a new direction as retailers discover new ways to predict and personalize what customers want to order. While some have innovated in this space, Boxed is the first to offer a feature like Concierge, which is true autonomous shopping," William Fong, CTO of Boxed, told FierceRetail.
So far, Smart StockUp is receiving great feedback from shoppers who are enjoying the ease and convenience of Smart StockUp’s personalized recommendations. To date there have been zero returns on these automatic shipments.
The machine learning algorithm was created by Boxed’s in-house team of data scientists, who built it over the course of three to four months. Moving forward, the team will continue analyzing customer data to refine the algorithm and provide the best possible customer experience for shoppers.
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"We took time to make sure all our customer recommendations could be served quickly (performance) and that takes time to get both accurate and personal," Fong said.
The team at Boxed believes that SmartStockUp is the future of B2B shopping, taking the hassle out of bulk orders. And Concierge makes it super convenient for everyone—from office managers, to event planners, to small business owners—to stock up without having to think about what they need and when they need it.
"Moving forward, we’ll continue analyzing our customer data to refine the algorithm and provide the best possible customer experience for our shoppers. While all returning customers receive Smart StockUp suggestions, those testing our Concierge program have chosen to opt in," Fong said.