Grocery Store Chain Albertsons Integrates Nuance’s Virtual Assistant Platform to Help Online Shoppers
Grocery store chain Albertsons will start using artificial intelligence developer Nuance’s technology to help online shoppers. The Intelligent Engagement Platform created by Nuance will support a virtual assistant and chatbot to aid Albertsons during the spike in online grocery shopping resulting from people staying home during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The need to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the limits on how many people can safely be in a grocery store at the same time are pushing many toward buying groceries through websites and apps. Albertsons, which operates 22 brands of more than 2,200 grocery stores, is seeing far more traffic on its website and mobile app than it did at the beginning of the year. The chain wants to use Nuance’s platform to reduce the burden on its customer service employees. The AI will be used to answer customer questions about product availability, delivery services, and other standard topics, reserving human customer service for more complex needs. The AI was already used by Albertsons’ Vons stores and now will deploy to Safeway, Tom Thumb, Jewel Osco, Pavilions, Randalls, and the Albertsons stores themselves.
“Supporting our customers’ needs as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible is of utmost importance to us. We are pleased to offer shoppers multiple options when it comes to ordering online – from in-store pickup to contactless delivery,” Albertsons executive vice president Chris Rupp said in a statement, “Our associates are fully committed to assisting our customers in the stores, and now we can extend that same Albertsons experience to our digital channels, ensuring our customers’ needs are met however they choose to shop.”
The COVID-19 health crisis is leading many companies to experiment with adding or expanding their use of AI. Chatbots, voice assistants, and other variations are all popping up in new places. For instance, Satisfi Labs created a pandemic-specific AI platform to answer the questions asked of its event and venue clients. Virtual agent developer Inference Solutions also adjusted by setting up a system for its clients to update their AI platform with answers related to the pandemic and its effect on the client’s business.
As one of the largest companies in the space, Nuance is playing a part in these additions and expansions. The company recently released Nuance Mix, a set of conversational artificial intelligence software for businesses that simplifies the process of building virtual assistants. Companies using the toolkit don’t need a technical background to build the virtual assistant, just an idea of how they want it to function, whether as a customer service bot or for helping employees coordinate projects. The partnership with Albertsons brings that focus to the wider world of grocery stores.
“We innovate to create value and help organizations solve real problems that make everyday lives better through Conversational AI,” Nuance CTO Joe Petro said. “We are fortunate to partner with Albertsons as they put their customers’ experiences and needs at the center of their business to ensure people are getting what they need in an efficient, easily accessible way, and we deeply respect their commitment to the communities they serve.”