Reinventing shopping thanks to AI

Laura Khoury founded Shoptelligence in the US after several years in business strategy. Her promise ? Revolutionize our shopping experience through Artificial Intelligence. She will speak at {dive}:event on July, 7.

How would you explain Shoptelligence in a few words?

Shoptelligence is the first automated Personal Shopper for retailers that compels consumers to buy ensembles, across categories and over time, based their unique style and function. Shoptelligence STyle Discovery Engine™ is additive to “personalization" engines, which correlate past behaviors and suggest similar products without truly understanding the attributes that made the customer buy that item. Shoptelligence enriches product and customer data into STyle attributes™ and emulates how Personal Shoppers merchandise coordinating ensembles, significant increasing multiple category and repeat customers.

How did it begin? how did you come to this idea?

It began from my perspective as a frustrated consumer. I was transitioning jobs and needed to update my wardrobe. Coming home from a shopping spree I discovered that I bought duplicates of many things I already had in my already full closet. Frustrated with my full closet yet nothing to wear I wanted an app that could help me find what I needed for work at the store and get outfit suggestions that mixed what I already owned with what was available at retailers. After searching and finding nothing I decided to build it and Shoptelligence was created. The product continues to evolve to take advantage of emerging technologies, but the basic concept remains the same.

Does it work for any kind of retail brands?

It works well for retail brands that have merchandise that can be used in multiple ways with other products, and relates to style or lifestyle. Apparel is available today and two more verticals will launch soon.

Who are your main clients today and in the future?

We work with retailers and broadly within the retailer ecosystem. Because we deliver an engine that requires only product data to work, we are particularly suited for not only traditional digital channels such as web and mobile, but also in store experiences. Our focus on serving as an automated personal shopper also means we dynamically merchandise for each individual shopper, simultaneously optimizing for retailer outcomes. This appeals to a wide variety of stakeholders within the retailers, including merchandising and product design.

What were the main difficulties you experienced since you started this adventure?

The industry is full of solutions that “personalize” based on past behavior. Educating the market that dynamic merchandising is not the same, but additive and easily scalable across channels has been a great, but sometimes challenging, ride. Shoppers know the difference intuitively.

Is AI one of the main game changer technology for the future of shopping experience?

Absolutely. In today’s world, the shopper has millions of choices at their fingertips. It’s great to have a lot of variety, but overwhelming, even with such great search tools like Google. Retailers don’t often use the same taxonomy or products descriptions. Consumers can’t shop based on style or function, so are forced to translate their needs into search terms. Once the shopper has finally found what they need and heads to the store, where 80+% of transactions still occur, it’s a completely different experience and set of challenges with products and getting assistance. There hasn’t a great solution to bridge the divide. What a challenge for the consumer! All of this makes the environment ripe for AI-based shopping solutions to help shoppers find products and coordinating product sets that fit their style and function. An intelligent solution can interpret style and function, for example what it means to shop for a night out versus a casual event. It can make curation decisions from your perspective like a personal shopper does, specifically from vertical expertise, deep product knowledge and direct input from the shopper. From there massive amounts of data become more useful to help refine your style lens, but not until the base level of understanding is established. These, in addition to machine vision, are the major value that AI will bring.

What do you expect at {dive}?

I am excited to be part of an immersive experience focused on anticipating and delighting customers from a variety of different industries and parts of the value chain. True customer centricity requires rethinking every element of strategy and operations. Although industries operate seemingly independently, everything arrives at the same destination – the customer, and this needs to be taken into account. The creativity embedded into the day – the activities, food and topics – is sure to stimulate new ideas and compel participants to consider new viewpoints.