Virtual Shopping App Salesfloor Acquires Conversational Commerce Startup Automat
Mobile shopping app Salesfloor has acquired conversational commerce startup Automat for an undisclosed price. Automat is the developer of an AI-powered retail shopping platform for brands and outlets, which will augment Salesfloor’s existing client services. The purchase comes as voice AI and chatbot-facilitated shopping start becoming more common, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing labor shortages.
The Montreal-based Automat’s conversational AI is designed as a shopping experience flexible enough to adapt to the needs of diverse brands, such as L’Oréal and Colgate-Palmolive. The AI can discuss all aspects of the shopping experience with potential customers. It will lay out products, make recommendations, and smooth the transition to personalized websites after the purchase. The startup boasts a 14% average increase in top-line sales for brands using Automat. The AI part of the solution starts by ingesting a product catalog and labeling the content to help drive a better understanding of how the products fulfill needs beyond categories and specifications. It complements this with a conversational chat interface that can interact with shoppers and surface the appropriate product catalog item based on their needs.
Salesfloor will now showcase those features for its own mix of major retail clients like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, and Ben Bridge Jeweler. The companies will design their own ideal setup, but more than 50,000 store associates who have access to their company’s Salesfloor will be able to incorporate Automat into their work. The resulting hybrid’s mix of human and AI value is ideal for the current moment when pandemic and workforce disruptions require a store to be able to interact with and handle both.
“Our customers have been asking us to add live human features to our retail sales automation platform for a while now,” Automat CEO Andy Mauro explained. “The typical way the industry thinks about this is to connect a customer service live chat team to a conversational AI or chatbot system. However, in speaking with retailers, we realized that they were not trying to automate their customer service so much as they needed help scaling their live store associate teams, many of whom have been disrupted throughout the pandemic with store closures.”
Talk and Buy
Improving online and mobile shopping with chatbots and voice assistants is very much on the rise. It’s what drove Walmart to acquire conversational AI firm Botmock not long after Walmart’s Store Nº8 incubation division announced a Text to Shop feature allowing shoppers to text their list to a chatbot. Walmart also has the Ask Sam voice appbfor employees looking for information on product prices and locations. Even former Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore has even begun a new conversational commerce technology startup called Wizard Commerce, which recently raised $50 million to launch its own variation on the theme. “