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Artificial Intelligence In Action

In analysis / By Mark Flynn / 24 September 2018

Every decade or so, a new, game-changing technology platform changes the way the world works. From floppy disks to the cloud, fax machine to the iPhone, the technological landscape continuously changes. And up next? We’re knee-deep in the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. Robot hotel staff and virtual banking assistants no longer just exist in science fiction.

AI has the potential to power future innovation, especially in terms of customer experiences and the way we do our jobs, which is why brands are jumping on the AI bandwagon.

Earlier this year, The Economist surveyed 200 executives and found that 75% of them plan to implement AI in their businesses within the next three years. AI will obviously play a huge role within with future of most brands. Looking beyond tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon, we’ve decided how brands are using AI in innovative and interesting ways.


Sephora, were an early adopter of AI, the beauty retailer used chatbots to dispense beauty advice as early as 2016. Due to the vast amount of products on their website finding the right product can be overwhelming for users, searching “red lipstick” for example brings up nearly 200 results. Users needed a more accessible way to find the correct product for them as quickly as possible. The introduction of a chatbot made things easier, starting with quiz about the customer’s preference, the chatbot shared both content and product suggestions, making the sales technique seem less aggressive. Sephora have seen a marked improvement after implementing chatbots to aid the user journey, not only did sales improve but they gained valuable insight and user data. The chatbots proved to be such a success that the brand have now incorporated the bots into Messenger.


Starbucks aimed to make their customer journey more interactive with AI. They created a virtual barista which allows customers to place an order by tapping a button and communicating with the personal assistant. Starbucks really took the ‘don’t talk to me before my morning coffee’ mantra and ran with it. My Starbucks Barista has all the skills of a human barista such as taking and modifying orders and confirming pick up locations. My Starbucks Barista is integrated with Amazon Echo and so allows users to place and pay for orders via their Alexa device, ordering a caramel Frappuccino from the comfort of your own home has never been so easy. And since you have to register for Starbucks’ app, its digital assistant will probably even spell your name right.


Vodafone is banking on its chatbot TOBi to streamline the customer experience online. TOBi can now provide customers advice on SIM-only price plans and help users’ complete transactions, cutting out needless friction in the purchase journey. It takes TOBi eight minutes to complete a SIM-only transaction, this is half the time it usually takes customers to make a purchase. The chatbot can automatically point out any errors and correct them along the way, as a result, conversion is two to three times that of the website.

Due to the success of TOBi, Vodafone are planning to roll the chatbot out to assist customers when buying handsets with contacts and eventually offer upgrades to existing customers. This is where TOBi looks to be a real game changer as it will be able to make recommendations based on real customer data and present it in insightful ways.

North Face

In 2016 outdoor clothing retailer North Face began to experiment with AI. It implemented Watson, IBM’s cognitive computing platform, to deliver personalised shopping experiences for its online customers. It aimed to simplify the customer journey by asking the user to answer several questions about the products they were searching. If the users was searching for a coat, North Face’s chatbot would ask the user where they will wear the coat, in order provide relevant options. Much like the AI used at Sephora, the chatbots acts as an online sales assistant, helping the user select the most suitable product for their needs from the bran’s extensive online catalogue.


Like most music and video streaming services, Spotify uses AI and deep learning to provide recommendations for users. The application monitors users listening habits and preferences and inserts them into a learning algorithm to make song recommendations. You can find your personalised playlist using the ‘Discover Weekly’ feature on your Spotify homepage. This use of AI may not be as advanced as others, but it still uses predictive analytics and AI to learn about its users, and enhancing the usability of the product.

Artificial intelligence is set to change the face of retail, yet only a few brands as of yet are capitalising on its current potential. Throughout the year we will see more brands implementing AI to make the customer journey as simple as possible.

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Mark Flynn

Mark Flynn

Mark Flynn is Head of Sales for Nasstar. Mark has wealth of knowledge & experience within the IT industry & plays an instrumental part in defining our long-term sales & go to market strategies.

London, England
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