Mobile is an almost omnipresent word in the loyalty marketing world these days. More and more brands are stepping off the sidelines and waving their respective mobile flags high to signal a burgeoning beacon of customer engagement.

Just ask Macy’s.

This week, Macy’s announced the pilot of “Macy’s On Call,” which is a mobile web tool that allows customers to interact with an AI-powered platform via their mobile devices. “Macy’s On Call” taps IBM Watson, via Satisfi, an intelligent engagement platform, to deliver a first-of-its-kind solution that will enhance the customer in-store shopping experience at 10 test locations nationwide.

“At Macy’s, we remain focused on identifying, testing and supporting new ideas and approaches that will help elevate service to our customers through technology,” said Peter Sachse, Macy’s Chief Growth Officer. “With an eye toward innovation, we are moving fast to test and scale up pilot programs that help enhance their experience with us. This program, in partnership with Satisfi and leveraging the power of IBM Watson, will help us explore new ways to engage 1-on-1 with customers in-store, providing them another level of service right at their fingertips.”

The mobile companion, accessed via a mobile browser, allows customers to input natural language questions regarding each participating store’s unique product assortment, services, and facilities and receive a customized response to the inquiry. There are a number of ways that customers may request information. For example, a customer could type, “Where are the women’s shoes?” or type a combination of brand and product inquiry such as “I.N.C dress,” and they will receive the relevant response and location of that product in the store.

Since each Macy’s store is different, and consumers increasingly prefer mobile platforms, “Macy’s On Call” is providing shoppers with a helpful tool to get information fast as they shop and navigate the store. The system will evolve as it learns more about each store’s customers. This is already evident in the popular searches category, which highlights the most asked questions, responses to which can be accessed at the click of the appropriate button.

As part of the pilot, Macy’s is also incorporating a Spanish language feature to serve a broader subset of its customer base in select stores.

Accessed via macys.com/storehelp, the pilot of “Macy’s On Call” answers store navigation details provided by department, brand, and product category, as well as provides insight into the unique in-store services available at each test location - from My Stylist@Macy’s personal shoppers to Buy Online, Pickup in Store counters, and store facilities, including restrooms. The engagement is conducted through a simple question-and-answer interface leveraging Watson’s Natural Language Classifier, that is helping Macy’s learn more about the features and services that most resonate with shoppers.

Customers at all 10 test locations customers are encouraged to visit macys.com/storehelp on their mobile browser to engage with the in-store companion. The first phase of Macy’s On Call recently launched and is expected to run through late fall of 2016.

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