The North Face Debuts Fluid Expert Personal Shopper: An Artificially Intelligent Digital Commerce Platform, Powered By IBM Watson

by / Sunday, 13 December 2015 / Published in Blog, E-Commerce, Latest posts
As one of three inaugural partners in the Watson Ecosystem, a program dedicated to applying Watson cognitive computing technology to businesses, Fluid was tasked with applying Watson’s capabilities to envision and develop a platform that could change how consumers shop in the digital age. These efforts culminated with the launch today of the retail industry’s first ever artificially intelligent commerce platform, one that has the potential to change the face of traditional eCommerce: Fluid Expert Personal Shopper (XPS).XPS_TNF_Large“Online retail continues to transform the way we shop, but despite consistent industry efforts and advancements in personalized shopping, eCommerce has lacked the heart and soul of the quintessential in-store shopping experience,” said Kent Deverell, CEO of Fluid. “Now, Fluid XPS is changing that.”

Fluid XPS is an intelligent recommendation platform that harnesses Watson’s revolutionary technology to radically enhance product and service discoverability as well as the overall customer experience. Instead of manually combing through page after page of results using traditional search or navigation-style shopping, XPS provides an interactive, dialogue-based approach to assisting shoppers that mimics the expertise and efficiency of talking to an in-store expert that can make personalized recommendations. Using Watson’s abilities to apply logical reasoning and understand, categorize and evaluate natural language, XPS asks a brief series of refining questions. XPS then interprets your answers, evaluating them against a retailer’s extensive product-specific data points to quickly and accurately deliver tailored product and content recommendations that match your articulated desires and preferences.

“By tapping into cognitive computing technology, XPS gives shoppers helpful, relevant and intuitive product recommendations,” said Neil Patil, president of Fluid’s software group. “This is a first for the industry, and we believe this kind of personalized experience will become the norm for online shoppers in the years to come.”

XPS debuted in December 2015 with The North Face, who worked with Fluid to co-develop an experience to guide customers through finding a jacket online from their Fall/Winter 2015 selection.

“We are continually looking for ways to improve the shopping experience, and we are firm believers in using technology to advance our business and strengthen customer satisfaction,” said Todd Spaletto, president of The North Face. “We are proud to be the pioneering retail partner of Fluid Expert Personal Shopper and tap into IBM Watson technology to improve our customers’ online shopping experience and maximize their outdoor experience.”

The North Face has been in beta testing with the platform since November 12, generating extremely positive feedback and results. Customer engagement with XPS averaged two minutes in length, the platform generated a 60% click through rate to try product recommendations, and 80% of customers who engaged with the tool said they would use it again. Following this success, the service is now available to the general public. With this launch, the North Face has uncovered the tip of the iceberg of what will become possible with cognitive computing and retail.

“The retail industry is awash in structured and unstructured data — from social media to text messages and customer reviews. By tapping into Watson, retailers now have the power to turn this data into meaningful insights that can make the shopping experience more intuitive, informed and enjoyable,” said Stephen Gold, VP of Business Development & Partner Program at IBM Watson. “Market leaders like The North Face and Fluid are demonstrating how cognitive computing technologies are redefining how brands connect with and engage customers.”

About The North Face:

The North Face, a VF Corporation brand, was founded in 1966 with the goal of preparing outdoor athletes for the rigors of their next adventure. Today we are the world’s leading outdoor brand, creating athlete-tested, expedition-proven products that help people explore and test the limits of human potential. We protect our outdoor playgrounds and minimize our impact on the planet through programs that encourage sustainability. The North Face products are available at premium and specialty retail sporting goods stores globally and we are headquartered in California on a LEED Platinum-certified campus. For more information, please visit www.thenorthface.com.

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