STORES Convention Daily - 2018 Big Show Day 1 - 14

2018 SUNDAY

14

Conversational
Continued from page 12

higher. Voice is a great solution - the
customer can get answers immediately."
That's something all retailers need to
be ready for. "If competitors are providing
any kind of automated service - whether
it's over voice or chat - this is going to
raise the bar of customer expectations,"
Starbuck says.
While the bar may be higher, it's just
part of an evolution of adapting to the way
customers like to shop - and ease is at
the forefront.

"If we're to think about retailers or
business in general, they always want to
maintain conversations with their customers," says Igor Gorin, CEO of Astound
Commerce, a global digital commerce
agency. "Conversations can be with a
human, human-assisted application or
artificial intelligence."
Gorin points to an August announcement by Levi Strauss & Co. of a new stylist chatbot that answers questions about
fit and style. "In the background, they're
assembling look books. The goal is to
let you purchase the whole outfit which
you've assembled," he says.
He also notes Sephora's makeup

"If competitors are
providing any kind of
automated service
- whether it's over
voice or chat - this
is going to raise
the bar of customer
expectations."
- Luke Starbuck,
Linc Global

chatbot that helps customers pick the right
products. "Chatbots are getting more and
more sophisticated. The technology is
already there."
But it remains something of a minefield. "It's really easy to frustrate users
with answers that are irrelevant and a
waste of time," Gorin says. "It's difficult
to entice the user to come back."

Ever-improving technology

While voice-assisted technologies
have been around for decades, the artificial intelligence at their base has reached
new heights.
Yaniv Reznik, head of products and
customer success at artificial intelligence/
chatbot firm Nanorep - recently acquired
by LogMeIn - says past attempts at voice
were crippled because the technology
was "not yet there to make a meaningful
impact."
He sees voicebots seizing upon - and
growing alongside - improvements in
artificial intelligence and natural language
processing. Customers are also more willing to adopt this type of communication.
"The marriage of the two has really created
that opportunity," he says.
It's not a perfect system, to be sure.
"There also is a bit of a leap required in
trying to understand exactly what the
customer is asking. If a customer asks,
'Where's my order,' it's a given that they
probably mean one that hasn't yet been
delivered," Reznik says.
"But what if there is more than one
outstanding order? We may provide the
information on what we think you're asking, but we have to make it easy through
quick buttons to select the right one."
Chris Todd, CEO of Theatro, which
offers an intelligent personal assistant
and voice-controlled mobile app platform
for hourly employees, believes retail has
plenty of room to grow with voice. "Right
now, we're in this voice and chatbot 1.0
world, where retailers and others are taking a voice veneer and putting it over a
traditional customer service application."
It won't be long until retailers build
their own applications with voice at the
forefront, Todd believes.
"It's not a traditional app with a voice
front end. It's voice through and through.
At the end of the day, its core logic and
core construction is designed for voice.
Over time, the evolution is going to be
more toward this voice 2.0 environment,
where the platform was built for voice
from the very beginning and not just as an
afterthought. It will become table stakes
that retailers have a voice chatbot for
customer service."

The growing market

Retailers have options to enter the
market quickly by partnering with technology. Apple - which introduced the
concept with Siri on iPhones - has made
some noise about recapturing its place
in the market; some Chinese technology
companies are going after voice-assisted
See "Conversational" on page 20
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12/14/17 1:17 AM



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Convention Daily - 2018 Big Show Day 1

STORES Convention Daily - 2018 Big Show Day 1 - 1
STORES Convention Daily - 2018 Big Show Day 1 - 2
STORES Convention Daily - 2018 Big Show Day 1 - 3
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STORES Convention Daily - 2018 Big Show Day 1 - 32
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