Will AI mobile apps replace associates on Macy’s sales floor?
Earlier this week, Macy’s announced a pilot program to test “Macy’s On Call,” a mobile tool that will enable consumers to get answers to questions from an artificial intelligence platform, developed by IBM’s Watson via Satisfi.
The AI option (available at macys.com/storehelp) is being tested in 10 Macy’s across the country. Shoppers input their questions in English or Spanish and receive answers that are unique to that location’s inventory. The department store’s management believes there is demand for this type of tool and makes note that it will “evolve“ as the system learns about the needs of a particular store’s customers.
“We remain focused on identifying, testing and supporting new ideas and approaches that will help elevate service to our customers through technology. With an eye towards innovation, we are moving fast to test and scale up pilot programs that help enhance their experience with us,” said Peter Sachse, Macy’s chief growth officer, in a statement. “This program, in partnership with Satisfi and leveraging the power of IBM Watson, will help us explore new ways to engage one-on-one with customers in-store, providing them another level of service right at their fingertips.”
“Bringing Watson into a retail store setting presents an opportunity to engage with the consumer on a variety of levels,” said David Kenny, general manager of IBM Watson.”This particular use case takes Watson beyond helping consumers evaluate purchasing decisions, and influences another, equally important aspect of the in-store experience — ease of use in locating products, facilities and services.”
Stores involved in the test are:
- Macy’s Santa Anita, Arcadia, CA
- Macy’s Miami International, Miami, FL
- Macy’s Aventura, North Miami, FL
- Macy’s Mall of Georgia, Buford, GA
- Macy’s Lenox Square, Atlanta, GA
- Macy’s Montgomery, Bethesda, MD
- Macy’s Short Hills, Short Hills, NJ
- Macy’s Woodbridge Center, Woodbridge, NJ
- Macy’s Roosevelt Field, Garden City, NY
- Macy’s Clackamas Town Center, Portland, OR
- Macy’s Pilots IBM’s Watson in Partnership with Satisfi for In-Store, Personalized Shopping Companion – Macy’s
- Macy’s New App Answers Questions You Used To Ask Store Employees – Consumerist
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What role will artificial intelligence tech play on the sales floor at Macy’s and other retail stores? How will it affect the human element?