Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo rolled out shopping chatbot Uniqlo IQ on Thursday (August 2), which acts as a digital concierge service.
According to a report in VentureBeat, the machine learning chatbot will provide Japanese users with personalized style recommendations from its collection. “As retail moves deeper into the digital realm, shopping needs to be not just portable and perpetual, but personal as well. There has been a lot of talk about AI in the last few years, but most use cases have been toys, not tools,” said Rei Inamoto, founding partner of Inamoto & Co., the agency that created the assistant in partnership with Tokyo-based Party. “[This] iteration of Uniqlo IQ is the foundation of how Uniqlo will provide customer service on a personal level, not just reactively but also proactively.”
VentureBeat reported Uniqlo IQ is being built into the company’s smartphone app, offering product rankings based on occasion, personal preferences and even the customer’s daily horoscope. It also helps close the sale by providing customers with information about the nearest Uniqlo store with the products in stock. On top of that, VentureBeat reported that customers can access the digital concierge through Google Assistant. The voice app, Uniqlo claims, is the first time a brand worked with Google to develop a chatbot.
Chatbots are garnering increasing attention by all sorts of industries for good reason. The adoption of chatbots in retail, banking, and healthcare will save companies $11 billion each year by 2023, according to Juniper Research data found in July. In a press release highlighting the new research, Juniper said that the cost savings from chatbots will hit $6 billion in 2018 and that the savings going forward will come from the reduced amount of time spent dealing with customer service inquiries. According to Juniper, using chatbots will cut response and interaction times via phone and on social media by a dramatic amount, with businesses and consumers combined saving more than 2.5 billion hours by 2023 in those three sectors.