Buying local will beat online

Cognitive systems will make local buying smarter than online

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We're spoiled by websites that not only have what we want, and even suggest other stuff we didn't realize we wanted (but now have to buy). We even "showroom" at brick-and-mortar retailers because there must be a better deal online.

But over the next five years, local stores and shops will flip the javascript by giving us an immersive, mixed real and virtual experience. And being local will become increasingly important as shoppers demand the instant gratification of their purchases. Two day shipping will feel like snail mail when a local store can offer customers a variety of fast pick-up or delivery options, wherever they are.

IBM Research is working with several businesses to use cognitive computing to merge the immediacy of physical shopping with the intelligence of online shopping.

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Smarter in-store shopping

Watson’s app development platform is already moving into this physical-virtual space. The startup, Fluid, has layered Watson on top of its Expert Personal Shopper app for retail brands. So by next year, Watson will be your personal shopping assistant. Store associates will also have similar intelligent tech providing them instant product information, customer loyalty data, sales histories, user reviews, blogs and magazines, so that when you do need to talk with another human, they know exactly how to help.

IBM Research is exploring prototype software called the Virtual Stylist that uses data to help retailers more precisely predict clothing a customer will like, based on what complements the existing contents of their closet and their preferences. While many e-tailers today offer personalized recommendations, most are made by looking at the item you purchased, and what other people who purchased that item also bought – and then recommending to you those other products.

Rather than basing your recommendations on what others buy, the Virtual Stylist would let retailers look at items you recently purchased or showed interest in and tailor recommendations based on your unique taste and styles that will complement your existing wardrobe. And best of all, you can take your purchase home that day. No over-night delivery needed.

Learn how retail analytics put the customer in control

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IBM & Cognitive In The News

Meet the researcher

  • Sima Nadler

    Sima Nadler

    IBM Research Lead for Retail
    IBM Research - Haifa


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