Cognitive + Retail: Macy’s shoppers get help from in-store cognitive app

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Macy’s Inc., one of the premier department store retailers in the US, is exploring how cognitive technologies can help guide shoppers within their stores. Satisfi Labs is working with Macy’s to develop and test Macy’s On Call, a cognitive mobile web tool designed to help shoppers locate items and enhance their in-store experience. The tool is currently available in 10 Macy’s stores as part of an initial pilot, which has been extended to run through the holidays and into 2017.

Training Watson

The road to deploying this cognitive web tool started in April 2016. We started by collecting a lot of data and training Watson. There’s an art to how you train and bring expertise to the tool. First, we input all the different data points for what we thought shoppers would search for in store. Then, we had to think through and train Watson for all the ways a shopper might ask for that item or location. And, because Watson can become so tailored, Macy’s On Call has a distinct Macy’s tone of voice. It’s really a Macy’s cognitive in-store assistant, all on your smartphone.

Growing with shopper input

By using a Watson interface, we’re able to draw out what shoppers are trying to accomplish. And these are often things you would never find on a static web menu. For example, a shopper looking for running shorts can ask about an item with her own words. Instead of asking just where the women’s department is, shoppers can ask, “Where are women’s Under Armour running shorts?” The tool is growing as shoppers guide the language. Since the cognitive capabilities of Watson can pick up on these language trends and understand what shoppers are actually looking for, we can better serve them and further grow the tool.

Enhancing the holiday shopping experience

Not only does Macy’s On Call enhance the shopping experience in the store, but it also frees Macy’s sales associates to help more shoppers. Since the sales associates aren’t being asked as often for directions to the bathroom or a different department, they’re better able to help you find that perfect item or gift in their immediate area. Plus, the more shoppers that use the tool, the better we can refine and enhance it.

We’re working with Macy’s to enhance the experience for the upcoming holiday season, which is why the Macy’s On Call pilot is now extended through the holidays and into 2017. We want to give shoppers the most pleasant holiday shopping experience possible and it’s exciting to see how technology can be part of that.


Read more about the Macy’s On Call cognitive mobile web tool, including participating stores, in the news release. See how the tool works in the below video.

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Satisfi Labs CEO

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