IBM has invested part of a $100 million [£59.5 million] fund in Fluid Inc to try and revolutionise the personal shopping landscape using the power and expertise that its Watson supercomputer can bring to the table.
Fluid and IBM will work together to change the way that consumers shop by creating personalised, digital experiences with a personal shopping concierge that understands and advises users on key purchase decisions in what the two hope is an “industry first.”
“By tapping into IBM Watson’s cognitive intelligence, Fluid is infusing the personalized, interactive feel of an in-store conversation into every digital shopping interaction,” said Mike Rhodin, Senior VP of the IBM Watson Group. “This is what positive market disruption looks like, and it’s a key example of how a new era of cognitive applications will revolutionize how decisions are made by consumers and businesses alike.”
The solution is called the Fluid Expert Shopper [XPS] and can answer highly specialised questions, which would usually need a sales representative, and get a personalised reply that satisfies the customer’s needs.
Watson’s ability to answer consumer questions and learn from responses as well as engage in real-time conversations and tailor suggestions will be used by the XPS and it is already working with brands, including The North Face, to make sure the service is as helpful as possible.
Once complete the Fluid XPS solution will be able to use data such as product information, user reviews and online expert publications through Watson in order to give consumer recommendations related to individual needs.
“Fluid and IBM are purposely involving consumers in this new era of computing. An era in which people no longer type best-guess keywords into a retail website’s search box and hope for meaningful results; instead people ask specific questions based on explicit needs and get expert, personalized, information-driven responses to guide buying decisions. This is the same experience we have in real-world stores with great sales reps every day and is what’s missing from digital retail.” said Kent Deverell, CEO, Fluid, Inc.
IBM is using part of the $100 million [£59.5 million] that it earmarked for direct investment to fuel new cognitive apps to back Fluid and develop the new app.
Image Credit: Flickr (IBM Media)