Levi Strauss & Co. announced an artificial intelligence-based chatbot tool called Virtual Stylist, available both via Facebook Messenger and on the Levi.com website, that helps users determine which pair of jeans is the best fit for them, according to a company press release.
Virtual Stylist was built using chatbot technology from mode.ai and personalized sizing recommendation technology from TrueFit. The AI-enabled Virtual Stylist can pose and process questions regarding shopper preferences, such as, "How would you like your jeans to fit through your hips and thighs?" TrueFit sizing information is then used to deliver personalized recommendations to shoppers.
A mode.ai spokeswoman told Retail Dive that Levi Strauss is the first company that has integrated mode.ai’s chatbot widget on all the pages of its website, in addition to offering a chatbot via messaging platform.
Chatbots are nothing new, and there are plenty of them available on Facebook Messenger and other platforms, but Levi’s could be described as the second generation of chatbots, which have more intelligence and the ability to move customers toward a purchase.
Levi's partner, mode.ai, has been at the forefront of this evolution, launching an intelligent chatbot (also described as a virtual stylist) for Rue21 back in April. First-generation chatbots served, for the most part, as an interface capable of handling a few simple questions from customers, but new chatbots will be expected to do more — not only ask and answer questions, but also learn from the process to map out where a conversation needs to go, even to the extent of coaxing a customer toward a purchase. Does this customer need to be handed off to a human helper? Does this customer need a link to a product page where they can buy the product? For Levi's chatbot, users can click on product links that take them directly to Levi's corresponding product detail pages where they can then make a purchase.
The fitting feature of Levi's chatbot brings it even closer to providing the help that a human store associate might deliver when a customer walks into a retail location looking for a pair of jeans. TrueFit’s sizing technology is one example of the type of tool retailers could use to provide customers with a personalized shopping experience — especially if the chatbot is successful at delivering highly accurate size recommendations. TrueFit’s technology was also adopted by Tulip Retail in the company's mobile app earlier this year, with the aim of helping sales associates.
Levi Strauss has a nice package of technologies with this chatbot, but the company is also displaying foresight by offering a website widget that thoroughly matches the capabilities of the chatbot. That way, customers will be able to get the same experience regardless of whether they are using mobile, desktop, a messaging platform or Levi's website. All-in-all, it's a smart way to encourage customers to embrace the technology — by making it widely available, easy to use, and consistent across platforms.