The bots are coming: Examples from food, automotive, cosmetics and fashion

The bots are coming: Examples from food, automotive, cosmetics and fashion
Ray Fowler is Director at digital transformation consultancy Transform. Ray honed his career in operational roles within some of the largest UK retailers before moving across to consulting, eventually working for Ernst & Young in Moscow and more recently Accenture Strategy. His depth of knowledge and operational experience within retailing has led to several high-profile assignments across Europe, USA, Saudi Arabia, China, and most recently Russia.

For all the ongoing discussion about AI stealing our jobs – it’s already very much here.

In particular, AI is prevalent on the computers in our pockets, our phones. 72% of US smartphone users now use 6 apps daily – and AI has well and truly infiltrated them – with voice assistant and chatbot technology being seamlessly overlaid onto our most used apps.

It’s now paying our car tax and booking our plane tickets. A child born today is essentially AI-native, interacting with Amazon Alexa and apps such as Hello Barbie.

Individuals today are increasingly starved for time, and the technology that is creeping into our everyday routines is designed to directly alleviate this pressure.

The voice assistants that have popped up in our kitchens mean we no longer have to spend any time typing a question – we can simply shout instead.  

Picking up momentum

For businesses, it’s a no brainer – AI solves complex problems from customer service, right down to shop floor management.

Take customer service specifically, AI technology means that call centres can be staffed 24/7. In fact, any industry where customer service is key should be looking to automate to ensure the best possible user experience.

the barrier for entry for businesses adopted AI is coming down

The technology it takes to ensure a smooth operation is becoming cheaper, meaning that the barrier for entry for businesses adopted AI is coming down, right to a level where we are seeing start-ups adopting the latest technology.

Businesses overall are quickly adapting to AI and learning the most innovative and seamless ways in which the technology can enhance their business offering. Another advantage of the tech is that it doesn’t lend itself best to a particular sector – it’s open to all.

Here’s a list of brands in various sectors, food, automotive, cosmetics and fashion, that have excelled in their use of AI – take note.


The ‘Heston Bot’ on Skype promotes his recipes, and in a subtle way, Waitrose.

The app is designed so you can say things like “how do I cook potatoes” and it directly takes you to a great recipe. It also provides ideas and recommendations.

The natural next step for the app is a direct link to an ordering platform. Although currently working on perfecting the basics, the fundamentals are in place here for a fully integrated app.


Kia showed how effective chatbots can be during the US Superbowl, but using a chatbot to support a social media campaign.

The bot handled 115,000 questions a week and provided customers with information about the new Niro car and dealerships in their area, amongst other things.

The bots main role was to lead conversion and it was deemed to have done a great job converting Facebook users into test drivers at local dealerships.


Sephora have two apps on the Facebook messenger platform designed to enhance user experience and engagement with the brand. One app handles salon reservations in the US and the other is a colour match bot that scans photos and provides lipstick matches.

This lipstick app uses augmented reality and AI to match and provide the shade instantly.

It also provides hints and tips in a conversational way. It has been a great tool for getting younger customers to engage with the brand.

Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger have created a bot on the Facebook platform that guides you through their product range, based on what you are shopping for and the type of look you want to achieve.

If a customer chooses to purchase they are seamlessly transferred to the mobile app and the shopping cart is automatically populated with the purchase.

Although a basic example of the possibilities in this space, the positive feedback the app has received demonstrates the demand existing in the space.

there was web, then mobile, then apps and now bots

David Marcus of Facebook Messenger summed this up well by saying, “It’s the beginning of a brand new era – there was web, then mobile, then apps and now bots. It’s an incredibly powerful paradigm shift”.

All this took place in less than a few years and we need to accept that will only develop further with enhanced speech recognition. Those that adopt and utilise AI should expect to witness greater conversion and improved customer retention; exactly what customer centric businesses need to deliver.

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