- Piktorlabs has launched a new digital personal shopping assistant, called VERA, which can be used in-store or through e-commerce sites and mobile apps to provide fashion recommendations based on social media trends, according to a Piktorlabs press release.
- The digital concierge, which also can be integrated with retailers’ fitting rooms, self-service counters or team-member apps, uses machine learning algorithms to identify apparel chosen by a customer, then provides recommendations based on trending styles plus in-store or online availability.
- The digital assistant, which is being demonstrated at the NRF Big Show this week, can also be used to request fittings, check in-store product availability and order online for home delivery.
The concept of a digital concierge for retail applications is nothing new. Many have taken the form of chatbots, including one that offers personal style tips from Uniqlo or the ShopBot appraisal assistant tested by eBay and Google.
The current crop of voice-activated virtual assistants in devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are also digital concierges in a sense. Specifically, the Amazon Echo Look, unveiled in 2017, was designed to be used in a way similar to some of Piktorlabs' proposed uses for VERA.
The company, based in Seattle but owned by multinational firm UST Global, is positioning VERA as a digital shopping assistant that can use social media fashion trends to advise customers. The company claims to have had a "successful" test with Neiman Marcus, among other retail chains.
Piktorlabs may be open to a wide variety of implementations because it’s just starting out with VERA and wants to take whatever path seems most encouraging, but the in-store applications are especially intriguing as brick-and-mortar retailers look for more ways to transform stores to be more appealing and more engaging to shoppers.
It’s interesting that companies beyond Amazon, including Google, that are investing heavily in virtual assistant applications have not made more of these kinds of in-store applications. That may allow VERA to carve out a spot for itself in retail, but it all could depend on what NRF attendees have to say about this new assistant after its debut.