- Luxury New York City retailer Saks Fifth Avenue launched a gift guide chatbot as part of its holiday marketing. The Facebook Messenger bot asks users several questions about the person they’re looking to buy for, including favorite drinks and vacation spots, and suggests relevant gifts from Saks.com, according to documents made available to Mobile Marketer.
- The bot, created by Headliner Labs, tracks conversions and clicks over time and will adjust its future gift suggestions based on what users have purchased or browsed, Caroline Klatt, Headliner Labs CEO and cofounder, told Mobile Marketer.
- Saks’ new feature aims to reach mobile shoppers on platforms on which they're already spending much of their mobile time. “It’s challenging for retailers to get people to their site, so we’re creating these experiences that live inside of social media,” Klatt said.
Saks is leveraging Messenger’s 1.3 billion-strong user base to create a fun and useful feature for shoppers as the holiday season ramps up around Black Friday. The move aims to attract on-the-go, younger consumers already familiar with Facebook’s chat app, a demographic not typically associated with the high-end retailer that offers pricey designer goods. By offering a gift guide, this enables the retailer to reach shoppers earlier in the customer journey than the typical customer service bot.
To reach this younger group of digital natives, according to Klatt, brands in general must understand their behavior, reduce friction and become part of their time spent on mobile rather than trying to interrupt it.
“You should be in the customer workflow. You have to make it easy. You have to meet them where they are,” she said. “Any brand that wants to be relevant in five years has to have a really robust mobile strategy, and that strategy must take into account the fact that people are messaging all day long. So, the idea that people are going to do something different just to get to your product doesn’t really make sense.”
While Messenger chatbots are still working to gain traction since their introduction to the platform in April 2016, they're generating a decent amount of engagement. More than 20 million businesses use Messenger to interact with consumers, while chatbot functions on the platform generate 2 billion messages with the people they engage every month.
Though some brands use chatbots mainly as tools for automating customer service functions, Klatt said they hold a myriad of opportunities earlier in a shopper’s buying journey. In the case of Saks' gift guide, that means pointing customers to products based on responses to a few questions.
“If we can engage people who are otherwise just browsing around the site aimlessly, and we can engage them with the right messaging, that is money.”
The new chatbot gift guide adds an element of personalization that hopes to simplify users' mobile shopping experience. The key here is that the retailer is providing a valuable service on a convenient platform for consumers while still adding a splash of holiday fun. It also comes as Saks works to modernize its holiday marketing with a live stream of its iconic holiday window launch today.
Headliner Labs has previously built bots for retailers Cole Haan and Boxycharm, as well as publisher Women’s Wear Daily.