Suning, China’s leading retailer, showcased the artificial intelligence (AI) shopping assistant, Sue, developed by Chinese AI technology firm Emotibot, at CES 2018. Sue, a new AI retail solution, guided shopping assistant that understands shopper’s emotion, is scheduled to be deployed in Suning’s brick-and-mortar stores across mainland China during 2018.
With the roll-out of Sue, Suning has taken an important step towards the firm’s business transformation into intelligent retail. The AI shopping assistant Sue is powered by Emotibot’s multi-modal Emotional Intelligence Platform, Conversational AI (CAI) engine, and Emotion Recognition Engine (ERE). Sue is capable of identifying 22 different emotional states of the shopper by understanding facial expression, voice emotion, and emotion during conversation. With Emotibot’s facial recognition technology, Sue can recognize 22 facial attributes, including age, gender, hair style, beard style, as well as skin quality. With the understanding of the shopper via facial recognition and conversation, along with a robust knowledge graph for product information, Sue is able to provide the shopper with proactive shopping experience including, product information, recommendation, consultation, and post-sale customer service through a simple conversational interface.
Chinese offline retailers have been challenged by an out-of-date user experience, high operating costs and inconsistent service quality for years. By bringing together the synergy between Emotibot’s AI + New Retail solution, affective computing technology and the technology that supports natural language dialogue with assistive robots, Suning is committed to creating a new offline shopping experience in a move to complement the traditional offline channel with personalized and intelligent services. The cooperation with Emotibot reflects Suning’s decision to transform its offline retail business to digital.
Traditional shopping assistants can only answer a shopper’s questions passively and are unable to provide the shopper with any form of personalization. With Emotibot’s AI technology, Sue is able to identify the shopper’s emotion and facial attributes and provide shoppers with personalized shopping guidance services and merchants with proactive marketing engagement with shoppers. For example, when a shopper stands in front of the Emotibot shopping assistant is identified as a young male shopper, Sue is likely to make recommendations on specific consumer electronics that cater to this demographic by chatting with the shopper in natural language. In addition, when Sue recognizes that the shopper is confused or feeling uneasy, she will provide the shopper with shopping guidance and decision-making support, using a friendly tone and choice of words.
Additionally, Sue is able to help brick-and-mortar stores serve a greater number of customers more efficiently by providing fundamental product consultation and customer services that were previously handled by her human counterparts, while letting them focus more of their time on serving high-value customers or completing more complex tasks. Particularly, during holidays or other periods when the number of shoppers frequenting the stores spikes, Sue is able to assist their human co-workers in improving service capability in a short period of time, creating, for the shopper, an efficient, stress-free and personalized in-store shopping experience.
Suning disclosed that it plans to collaborate with Emotibot on connecting Sue to both Suning’s online and offline shopper databases with the aim of allowing Sue to identify and remember shoppers as well as access their profiles with the goal of providing fully personalized shopping guide services. The AI technology firm also plans to convert the data collected as a result of the dialogue between Sue and the shopper into business insights, as well as help Suning optimize product displays, logistics, distribution and after-sale services, in addition to other business processes, with the aim of improving the overall shopping experience. The partnership reveals a new direction for offline retail in China as the sector seeks ways to innovate in the new retail era.
Emotibot, an AI technology company focused on developing conversational virtual assistants, has been committed to providing affective computing capability to virtual assistants and intelligent conversational robots, and to deeply integrating the technology across the e-commerce, retail and financial domains, as well as powering IoT devices. The cooperation with Suning not only gives Emotibot an opportunity to showcase the multimodal ERE and Conversational AI capabilities of its AI shopping assistant, Sue, but also helps brick-and-mortar retail stores develop their capabilities in offering new personalized precision marketing services and empower offline retailers to reshape their customer service and operating models. The conversational virtual assistant, in tandem with a host of other AI technologies, is expected to stimulate the growth of the retail sector and create additional application scenarios and value for the “AI + Retail” model.