Uniqlo hopes to entice mobile shoppers with its new chatbot, a “digital concierge” that promises personalized style recommendations from its collection and launched in Japan yesterday. With the already-booming chatbot market set to exceed $1.34 billion by 2024, this could be a pivotal addition in the company’s pre-existing digital offering.
While many brands first experimented with chatbots via Facebook Messenger, the tool hit a 70% failure rate, stalling in use to just 8% of brands tracked in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail. Uniqlo’s new chatbot, however, is sewed into its mobile app. It aims to push product rankings by occasion, personal preferences, and daily horoscopes, and help shoppers complete purchases by providing directions to the closest location with products in stock. The brand is also working with Google for the first time to permit shoppers access to the chatbot via Google Assistant.
Ever since chatbots invaded retail, brands have been doubling down on virtual assistance by the dozen. For example, retail peer H&M launched its own chatbot that mimics in-store interactions with a salesperson. In contrast, Uniqlo lacked live chat on its brand site in the US completely. Additionally, a fifth of its emails did not include a creative and the majority of campaigns weren’t suited for mobile. These shortcomings took a toll on the company, sinking it 21 points lower in Gartner L2’s ranking of retailers’ digital skills. Uniqlo’s decision to introduce a chatbot to its native Japan could be the start of a promising relationship between Uniqlo shoppers and digital assistance across the globe.