Saks Fifth Avenue Using a Chatbot to Help Holiday Shoppers Find the Perfect Gifts
For the second year in a row, Saks Fifth Avenue has launched a holiday gift guide chatbot. The upscale department store chain has partnered with Headliner Labs to offer the service on the official Saks Fifth Avenue Facebook page. Visitors to the page can activate the chatbot via the "Send a Message" button.
The Facebook Messenger bot asks users several questions about the person they’re looking to buy for, including favorite drinks and vacation spots, and based on the user’s responses, the bot suggests relevant gifts from Saks.com. In addition, the bot tracks conversions and clicks over time and will adjust future gift suggestions based on what users have purchased or browsed previously.
In an interview with Total Retail, Emily Essner, senior vice president, marketing and digital, Saks Fifth Avenue, discusses the brand's holiday gift guide chatbot program.
Total Retail: Why has Saks Fifth Avenue decided to invest in chatbot technology, specifically its use as a gift guide for the holiday season?
Emily Essner: Saks partnered with Headliner Labs last year in launching a gift recommendation chatbot, and the engagement and clickthrough numbers were so fantastic that we knew we wanted to do it again in an even bigger way.
TR: How will Saks customers interact with the chatbot? In what channels will the chatbot be available?
EE: Saks customers interact with the chatbot on the official Saks Fifth Avenue Facebook page. Once on the page, the user can activate the chatbot by pressing “Send a message.”
TR: Saks had a chatbot gift guide for the 2017 holiday season. What did you learn about your customers’ interactions with the bot last year, and how have those learnings been applied this year?
EE: Fifty-five percent of users who took the quiz clicked back to site, with many of them purchasing the gifts that were suggested by the artificial intelligence-powered guide. We used this information to inform the 2018 chatbot campaign.
TR: What are the business benefits that Saks Fifth Avenue hopes to realize from its gift guide chatbot?
EE: We want to reach customers wherever they are, in a manner that's effective and natural. 1.2 billion people actively use Messenger to communicate, so it’s the most logical move to have an active presence there. We decided to work with Headliner Labs to build a fluid, conversational recommendation experience in Messenger because it resonates with customers and translates into considerable clickthrough traffic back to our site.
TR: Are there other potential applications for AI and machine learning that Saks is looking into for 2019? If so, what are they?
EE: We’re committed to connecting with our customers in creative ways and are exploring our options for 2019.
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