Cognitive

Mondadori Store recommends the perfect book with Mauden and IBM Watson

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Mondadori Store WatsonWe all know the feeling: you head to the bookstore to search for a special gift for a loved one or the perfect next read for yourself. But lost in rows of shelves brimming with hundreds of titles, you just don’t know where to begin. Based on a cover, the blurb, and maybe the first few pages, how can you tell which books would be a good fit? You certainly can’t get through all of them.

At Mondadori Store, we have always taken pride in our well-stocked, welcoming bookstores. We currently have 600 and counting, across Italy. Although we have been able to keep up with the fast pace of change by building digital channels, Mondadori Store’s physical stores have defined the company throughout its history. Aware that a frustrating in-store experience could hinder sales and visits in the long term, we looked for a way to make our inventory more accessible and easier to navigate.

For many retailers, investing in technology means focusing on online channels. However, we wanted to bring the same level of innovation to our physical stores, too. Mondadori Store teamed up with Mauden, a Platinum IBM Business Partner, to create MyStore, a virtual assistant designed to give customers instant book recommendations via an in-store kiosk. The aim was to help customers find their ideal book quickly, while still enjoying the traditional bookstore atmosphere and experience.

Reading between the lines

MyStore is built on Mauden’s GETinTOUCH platform, a software framework that harnesses IBM Cloud infrastructure and an IBM Cloudant database to interact with customers’ social media profiles and  collect data on book preferences and purchases.

The solution also uses IBM Watson Assistant to engage with customers in natural language, giving each interaction a natural, personal touch.

When users access the kiosk using a Facebook account, the kiosk elicits their preferences by asking them to select their favorite books, music, and films, and identify their personal tastes.

The selection will then be combined with other data, such as date of birth and friends list, to generate a “chosen for you” list with suggested titles. Users can also add books to a list of favorites in the “discover products” section anytime they access MyStore.

If you struggle to choose the right book for yourself, then finding the perfect gift for someone else can be even more of an ordeal. MyStore can also generate recommendations for what to get for that special someone, and it enables users to search for that product’s availability, price, and even its in-store location.

Opening a new chapter

We have been trying out MyStore in our flagship locations in Rome and Milan. So far, it has been a massive hit, and our surveys show that customers are eager to try out the kiosk.

By pinpointing a specific customer’s preferences and reading habits, the platform makes customers purchasing journeys much more streamlined, encouraging them to choose Mondadori Store for all their literary needs.

The more customers insight data we collate, the better our recommendations will become. The aim is to persuade people to visit us, instead of searching for books online, because they know that they can enjoy a better, more bespoke in-store experience.

With help from Mauden and IBM, we are confident that we will attract new customers to our stores and provide an unbeatable shopping experience for book-lovers across the country. This should help us boost sales and strengthen our position as Italy’s leading chain of bookstores.

Read the case study for more details.

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