Holiday shopping gets a chatbot concierge

Together with

The Future. Over the past year, digital marketplaces, ecommerce retailers, and brands of all shapes and sizes have introduced AI-powered chatbots to make the experience on their sites easier and more interactive. As more and more people use it, holiday shopping may take as much time as a few Google searches.

“How may I AI-ssist you?”
AI is personalizing the search for the perfect holiday gift.

  • Marketplaces like Shopify, Instacart, and Mercari have all rolled out shopping-assistant chatbots to help find gifts or other items across their high-volume platforms.
  • Retailers such as Walmart and Carrefour have or are testing their own, as are brands like Kering, Signet Jewelers, and Mastercard.

The chatbots’ intended purposes are twofold: to help users brainstorm ideas (that’s where the conversational aspect comes most in handy) and curate specific item requests (limiting search-results to a specific color or under a certain budget, for example). According to Shopify VP Carl Rivera, “In a way, it’s recreating an in-store environment, but online.” 

Unsurprisingly, the chatbots are far from foolproof yetNYT writer Yiwen Lu found that Shopify thought a search for items related to the anime series Violet Evergarden was a query for purple posters. The show clearly wasn’t in the training data.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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