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H&M, Sephora nab early entry into Kik’s fashion bot shop

H&M, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret Pink are three of the brands with chatbots in messaging application Kik’s new fashion and beauty bot category, allowing users to receive outfit recommendations and browse new styles in an artificial intelligence-enhanced experience.

Chat platform Kik rolled out the fashion and beauty bot category this week in an effort to make the mobile shopping experience more social and customized. Brands with bots in this category can take advantage of features such as new chat functionalities and search tools, both of which will likely boost mobile revenue.

“This new launch is crucial both from a user experience end as well as a brand discovery end,” said Jaclyn Ling, director of retail at Kik. “Users now get a richer experience to interact with bots, and brands get better and more qualified users to their bots.

“Teens want to shop with their friends, and the bots in the new category mimic the social experience of shopping with friends (like a sales clerk handing her suggestion of a new pair of jeans over the dressing room door),” she said. “There are two types of bots — branded bots and concierge bots; branded bots provide brands with a deeper connection to users.

“Concierge bots are brand-agnostic and provide relevant information to users as they shop. The branded and concierge bots can interact with each other (bot-to-bot interaction), offering teens a new way to browse outfits and shop together and is exemplary of Kik’s cutting edge technology.”

Social shopping
Retailers attempting to foster more meaningful relationships with teenage consumers – many of whom use Kik regularly – may want to consider investing some of their mobile budgets into chatbots.

Bots in Kik’s new fashion and beauty category are able to leverage new chat functionalities. Whereas before, users could only bring bots into existing conversations using mentions, the fashion and beauty bots are now able to interact with each other more cohesively.

This enables Kik users to enjoy a new way of browsing outfit options and shopping together within their group or one-on-one chats.

For example, an individual who searches for a specific type of mascara in the Sephora chatbot may also receive messages from a concierge bot, such as BeautyTube, which will offer her tutorials and tips relevant to that exact product.

Users can also now send invites to ask friends for beauty or fashion advice during their chatbot conversations.

Several of the branded bots available within Kik’s new fashion and beauty category include H&M, Victoria’s Secret Pink, Kipling and Sephora. These chatbots let users browse new styles, receive product recommendations and get directed to each brand’s mobile site.

BeautyTube leads the pack of concierge bots, which offer personally recommended tutorials, outfit suggestions and styling inspiration.

The last set of new chatbots fall under the influencer category. Influencer bots include YouTube stars such as TheMakeupByDanielle, GettingPretty and JackieWyers, who will chat directly with fans in addition to providing beauty tips.

Banking on bots
Brands that choose to adopt chatbots into their mobile strategies early will likely be better off in the long run.

For instance, Sephora first drove customers to mobile messaging platform Kik with a contest asking users to answer three questions, enabling the retailer to build its audience on the platform while gaining shopper insights (see story).

Chatbots are also permeating industries other than retail.

DMI International recently joined forces with a travel distribution technology company to implement natural language processing into a chatbot that leverages IBM Watson’s platform to respond to users’ hotel search requests (see story).

However, CPG and retail marketers with significant followings may find Kik to be an optimal host for their bots.

“We look at product in three phases: build, grow, monetize,” Ms. Ling said. “Right now, we’re in the ‘grow’ stage, and are working closely with a select group of brands and advertisers that have an innovative perspective on chat that are willing to build and learn with us.

“We’re focused on delighting our users with self-expression, building out Kik points, our rewards program, and helping leading brands build great bot experiences.”