27 Feb The future is where AR, VR and chatbots converge
In 2017, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or chatbots have generated a lot of buzz and retailers started to implement those new technologies. They are undertaking major innovative breakthroughs in those three areas but sometimes… distinctively. And yet when AR/VR combine with AI-powered chatbots, magic happens.
WHEN THEY COME TOGETHER, HERE IS THE ULTIMATE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Virtual assistants have gained in popularity as more businesses adopted them, especially in voice communication. Amazon, for example, opened up its voice-based chatbot tool to developers, Amazon Lex. This deep learning chatbot service as well as similar tools are part of the intense competition among Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to become leaders in AI-powered virtual assistance. These accelerating technologies help chatbots to move from text-only functions to voice communication and businesses may then more easily provide automated phone systems. Meanwhile, in 2014 Facebook acquired one of the biggest names in VR, Oculus. In 2016, Facebook Messenger chatbot platform has been opened to third parties – and then possibilities became limitless. Companies start realizing that these technologies are complementary.
In retail, a mix of AR and chatbots could enable a customer who walks into a store to have a digital overlay automatically popping up, via smart glasses for example, with a chatbot on hand to assist them. It could also offer meaningful and differentiating user experiences via an app: an AR-powered app could help customers to see how furnitures fit into their home (i.e.: Ikea app) and thanks to their voice they could instantaneously change colors and features.
As another breakthrough in the industry, Ikea and Accenture have revealed this week at the Mobile World Congress 2018 a new augmented concept store where digital overlays appear on walls (see below).
Ikea & Accenture new augmented & interactive concept store, Mobile World Congress 2018
Virtual reality and chatbots could also come together in the retail industry to provide interactive transactional services. Swarovski and Mastercard partnership has been one of the first offering a VR transational experience. In September 2017, they launched a VR shopping app for the Swarovski’s home decoration line and it immersed consumers in a decorated home where they can browse and purchase the pieces thanks to Mastercard’s digital payment services. Let’s add chatbots to such experiences to increase conversion.
Swarovski’s virtual and transactional experience, powered by Mastercard
THIS IS WHY BEAUTY BRANDS KEEP INVESTING IN CHATBOTS
Although the fashion industry has struggled with its chatbot strategy (i.e.: Everlane annoucing to ditch its Facebook Messenger chatbot in 2017), beauty brands seem to hold on to the technology. Sephora, Estée Lauder and L’Oréal have rolled out chatbots in 2017, and more beauty companies are launching chatbots partnering with AR platforms such as ModiFace. Indeed, many in the industry believe that visual components are key to chatbots success and AR-powered apps solve the “try-before-to-buy” conundrum.
The ability to send a photo or video to try on product significantly adds to the engagement and this is why Parham Aarabi, CEO of ModiFace, and his team are focusing on perfecting the AR integration into their chatbots.
Chatbots have been initially used to address low-value customers questions, like how to find a store or track an order. It’s now becoming a savvier virtual store associate for many brands thanks to AR, because they offer ultimate shopping experiences including personalized beauty recommendations as the same time than try-ons.
Estée Lauder chatbot developed with Modiface