Boxed aims to ease online bulk ordering with AR, chatbot tech
Bulk shopping e-commerce site Boxed has introduced new technology features, including an augmented reality capability, a Facebook Messenger chatbot and a group ordering solution, Business Insider first reported. The news was confirmed and further detailed to Retail Dive by Boxed CTO Will Fong.
The Boxed AR View feature, for iOS device supporting Apple’s ARkit, lets customers see how wholesale products will fit in their homes. The capability is not currently available on Android mobile devices or desktop devices.
"There are currently 30 products available with the AR feature," Fong told Retail Dive in an email. "There’s no official roadmap, but the list will likely expand based on customer response."
Boxed just crossed two of the hottest mobile technology trends in retail augmented reality and chatbots — off its list in one stroke.
The online wholesale club is the latest of many in the sector to turn to AR technology to enhance the customer experience on its mobile app. It's also a move to offer shoppers in-home of products before they buy them, not to mention more confidence in their purchasing decisions.
The Boxed chatbot on Facebook Messenger arrives complete with a cute and appropriate name — Bulky. The chatbot allows users to discover new products, add to baskets and track orders. It also integrates with Boxed’s recently launched Smart StockUp feature to help customers easily order items their most frequently purchased items as they run out.
Several retailers have adopted chatbots in the last year and a half, and the movement seems to have really picked up steam amid the holiday rush, with Saks, Louis Vuitton and David Yurman among the latest to launch them. Like most retail chatbots, Boxed is starting its chatbot out on Facebook Messenger. "There currently aren’t plans to expand beyond Facebook Messenger," Fong said, "But we’re going to see how customers interact with the chatbot, and determine on which other platforms it might be most useful."
The group ordering feature uses a shareable link to allow a shopper to build their cart with the help of friends — even those who are not Boxed customers. The original user can see who’s buying what items and automatically split the bill via Venmo payment. It’s a pretty neat approach to letting family members, roommates and colleagues contribute to a group shopping order by leveraging one person’s membership.
Boxed this year has been busily building a reputation for embracing technology innovation, especially automation in its warehouse environment. It's not the first company in the sector to embrace AR or chatbots, but it continues to keep pace with what's new in retail technology.