Cognitive Computing

Cognitive Commerce: A New Way to Serve Consumers

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Consumers want instant gratification. Just look at the popularity of online boarding and check-in passes. We’re living in a customer-centered world.

To succeed, a company needs to commit to one thing: delivering exceptional experiences for customers — those times where the perfect deal falls into the customer’s lap at the exact right moment.

Cognitive computing in commerce is here and it will help deliver the best products to consumers at the best prices. In fact, today we announced the IBM Watson Trend, a free app that gives consumers an up-to-the-minute ranking of the top trending products or categories in retailing to assist in their shopping.

At a time when customers want to feel they are in control, cognitive commerce lets companies gain insights into a vast collection of information and possibilities, understand what individuals really want, see patterns, and make unlikely connections in order to deliver experiences at the right time.

For example, consider customers who are having issues with their cable services, specifically, the quality of the HD channels. After calling customer service, a cognitive system running in the background informs the representative on what type of conversation to have with an individual consumer. The system comes to the conclusion based upon an understanding of the consumer’s needs, personality, and response to prior messages.

What could have been a highly contentious conversation turns into something far different — an amicable call with a representative thanks to cognitive computing in commerce. This powerful new technology can help a company transition from delivering customer service to servicing its customers.

By using cognitive commerce, companies can understand consumers at completely new levels by learning about their behaviors, personalities and emotions, as well as what tones will resonate best in brand messages. Through this deep level of understanding, businesses can design and engineer interactions that establish deeper levels of customer engagement.

Consider this scenario involving an outdoor retailer. A family goes to the retailer’s web site to search for tents for an upcoming trip. On the site they can narrow down the results by adding some specific criteria, such as the size and features of what they want. In the end, the buyers don’t have enough knowledge or experience with camping to know which tent would be most suitable for their needs.

If the seller has cognitive commerce capabilities, however, the family members can pose questions about the products, not only about the right size of the tent, by also the item’s appropriateness for a specific region, or how easy it is to assemble.

Similar to the experience of talking to a sales associate in a store, the shoppers are presented with a relevant list of options and are guided through the choices to find precisely the right tent — as well as unexpected items they may need.

Cognitive commerce provides consumers with new information, new scenarios and new responses. It provides retailers with the opportunity to engineer perfect moments that create a loyal base of passionate customers. That’s the power of cognitive commerce.

To learn more about the new era of business, visit

A version of this story ran on Forbes.

Global Program Manager, Cloud Communications; Managing Editor, IBM THINK Blog

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