- American Eagle Outfitters and its Aerie lingerie brand have worked with artificial intelligence startup Pandorabots to create two new bots — one for browsing Aerie's bra selection, the other for holiday shopping — VentureBeat reports.
The bra-focused bot, available on messaging platform Kik, allows Aerie customers to browse bra styles using different filters like fit, style or occasion. The bot also promotes company culture through photos, videos and the #AerieReal hashtag, which refers to Aerie's commitment to present its models in ads with no retouching or Adobe Photoshop usage.
- The AEO Holiday Gift Guide bot, available on both Kik and Facebook Messenger, converses with shoppers to find out who they are shopping for and ask them other questions, then presents recommendations for gifts.
This chatbot craze is becoming so widespread that even bras have bots. The bra browsing bot actually fits a clear trend toward development of bots focused on beauty and fashion products: Modiface, Sephora and Tommy Hilfiger are among the beauty and fashion brands to have launched chatbots in recent months.
Aerie's bra bot presents some similar functions to some other bots as it seeks to help shoppers, but its work in promoting the #AerieReal campaign serves another purpose, as it also invites users to post their own untouched photos. Ideally, this is what retail bots are all about — they can become another sales channel, but they also present an opportunity to engage with customers on another level, and in a different way than retailers might be engaging with them in stores or even on e-commerce sites.
The AEO Holiday Gift Guide bot is just the latest example of firms in the retail sector looking to leverage a new technology for seasonal marketing by seeking to start fresh conversations with customers who might feel overwhelmed or out of gift ideas.
Things are going to get very interesting in the realm of chatbots in the coming year. At some point soon, we should start hearing some results an analysis of how all of the holiday-focused chatbots performed, and in 2017, retailers — given some months to evaluate their first-generation chatbots — should be ready to decide if it's a truly useful tool, and if there are many more to come.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2016 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page for more stories.