Whatever the activity, whatever the conditions, The North Face has the ideal jacket. Literally, because you have a choice out of 350 of them. But how do you choose the perfect one for you? Down or synthetic? Lightweight is great, but is it warm enough? Thankfully you can always rely on the expert store staff at The North Face. By asking the right questions during a great, friendly conversation, it’s clear in no time what jacket you’ll feel most comfortable in.
In an online environment, there are filters with all those technical features. All you have to do as a consumer is click on the right filters. The North Face noticed that new customers in particular were finding it difficult to select the right filters. They scrolled on and on and became lost on pages filled with jackets, without actually buying. This had to change.
In collaboration with IBM Watson, the American outdoor specialist introduced a whole new, super-personal way of searching. With the help of Artificial Intelligence, the chat you usually have with an employee in the store has been almost identically imitated online.
Watson asks the question online that the staff might also ask in the store: “What activity do you need the jacket for?” “Where will you be wearing the jacket?” “Oh, New York is lovely in spring!” “When are you going?” In other words, a real conversation. For Watson, every answer is a selection criterion and helps narrow the options down. At the end of the conversation, the consumer is left with a short list of very suitable options. The AI was tested over a period of two months by more than 50,000 customers. A conversation with Watson lasted 2 minutes on average, after which 60% clicked through to a product. Three-quarters of users thought the experience was worth it and would do it again. Especially new customers without much product knowledge were positively surprised. All in all, the AI experience was given a score of 2.5 out of 3.
The Artificial Intelligence hasn’t had a dramatic influence on revenues since the test, but The North Face is convinced that this new technology will turn the online world on its head. What’s more, the technology helps turn more people into fans of their brand and Watson is getting smarter and smarter the more it is used. The technology teaches itself which suggestions work well and which ones don’t, improving its choices every day. Based on the findings, the AI is undergoing further development and is being relaunched in April 2017.