1-800-Flowers introduces AI concierge

Discussion
May 11, 2016

Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from FierceRetail, an e-newsletter and website covering the latest retail technology news and analysis.

1-800-Flowers is using artificial intelligence to provide gift suggestions and product recommendations with GWYN (Gifts When You Need), an AI version of a personal shopper.

Powered by IBM’s Watson, GWYN is based on Fluid Expert Personal Shopper, a software platform designed to disrupt traditional search with an automated conversation between shoppers and a digital shopping expert that guides them to the right products, according to the company.

Unlike other product recommendation engines, Gwyn can understand and then ask contextually relevant questions to guide the shopper through a personalized experience and recommend the best possible gift.

Here’s how it works: A shopper types in a search query looking for a gift. Gwyn then asks a number of qualifying questions about the occasion, sentiment and recipient to best tailor the gift suggestion.

“The world’s data is growing at a tremendous rate, and the retail industry is at the forefront of tapping into this unstructured information to better cater to the modern consumer,” said Keith Mercier, IBM Watson retail leader, in a statement. “By using Watson, the cognitive capabilities of GWYN are enabling 1-800-Flowers.com to offer a more personalized and intuitive online shopping experience, and foster new levels of brand engagement.”

The program works with desktop and mobile interfaces. In March, The North Face became the first retailer to integrate Watson into its mobile app, using AI to return better search results.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
What do you think of the potential for an AI-powered gift concierge such as GWYN? What other retail interactions might benefit from this type of cognitive computing rendered in a conversational tone?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The possibilities are endless — in fact last week Watson partnered with designer Marchesa to create the world’s first cognitive dress."
"The world is becoming a soul-less high-tech vending machine. First, I don’t understand why we even need 1-800-Flowers when you can Google a local florist next to where the recipient lives and let them make the money."
"IBM Watson is an amazing program. The beautiful thing about a text conversation with an AI "concierge" is that the customer may not know he/she is interacting with a computer."

Join the Discussion!

5 Comments on "1-800-Flowers introduces AI concierge"


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Patricia Vekich Waldron
Guest
Patricia Vekich Waldron
6 years 17 days ago

Cognitive computing, which can understand, reason and learn over time, has the power to enhance any decision-making function. The 1-800-Flowers application is like a personal shopper in your pocket. The possibilities are endless — in fact last week Watson partnered with designer Marchesa to create the world’s first cognitive dress.

Ian Percy
Guest
6 years 17 days ago

The world is becoming a soul-less high-tech vending machine. First, I don’t understand why we even need 1-800-Flowers when you can Google a local florist next to where the recipient lives and let them make the money. I digress.

We need AI to buy someone a gift? Someone we love and care about? That’s like sending your spouse a computer-generated and signed anniversary card! And the computer talks in a “conversational tone?” Kind of reminds me of those ads for blow-up lady dolls we snuck a look at when we were kids. Gosh they had names and everything.

And then there’s the claim to “offer a more personalized and intuitive online shopping experience.” Thats as “personalized” as a vending machine horoscope and as far from “intuitive” as you can get. I can hear it now””Honey, some algorithms suggested this anniversary gift for you, I hope you like it. Oh, and I think they put a card in their somewhere.”

I’m sorry, but if this is “engagement” we’re in a lot of trouble. Where’s the love, people?

Shep Hyken
Guest
6 years 16 days ago

IBM Watson is an amazing program. The beautiful thing about a text conversation with an AI “concierge” is that the customer may not know he/she is interacting with a computer. This technology has come a long way. The best companies that are using this technology have a fall back plan. The computer knows when there is a misunderstanding or an issue with the interaction and immediately and seamlessly turns the conversation over to a human to continue the text conversation. Pretty cool!

Lee Kent
Guest
6 years 16 days ago

There are a lot of great uses for AI however selecting a gift is not really one of them. IMHO.

Don’t get me wrong, using predictive analytics and suggestive analytics are great for this kind of thing, but do we call that AI? Nada!

What is 1-800-Flowers going to learn from me over time? I am not buying flowers or candy for the same person or the same event most of the time. On the other hand, showing me what others have selected or what is popular? That is another story, but hardly AI. Just sayin’.

For my 2 cents.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
6 years 16 days ago

How about shopper bots talking to other shopper bots and retail bots to coordinate a social shopping experience?

Say four friends agree to see each other every now and they have agreed to schedule joint shopping event at say Neimans. The retailer bot has been told to ping the shopper bots when a designer or category they all care about is having an event and after the designated duration since their last outing. The bots work out the scheduling behind the scenes. The personal calendars and location information might be checked as well. I know this sounds intrusive but if people really are friends — then maybe not.

The activity is a hassle but the end result is high value — you can even schedule a lunch outing.

Bot Assisted Social Shopping (BASS): The advertising campaign will consist of cool Bass Guitar with a voice over touting the hipness of a smoothly lived life.

File your patent now!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The possibilities are endless — in fact last week Watson partnered with designer Marchesa to create the world’s first cognitive dress."
"The world is becoming a soul-less high-tech vending machine. First, I don’t understand why we even need 1-800-Flowers when you can Google a local florist next to where the recipient lives and let them make the money."
"IBM Watson is an amazing program. The beautiful thing about a text conversation with an AI "concierge" is that the customer may not know he/she is interacting with a computer."

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