IBM Watson invests in Fluid to better consumer shopping experience

IBM Watson today announced that it invested in Fluid to better consumer shopping experience.

IBM did not disclose the financial terms of the investment in Fluid.

Earlier, IBM earmarked $100 million for direct investments to fuel cognitive apps.

As part of the alliance that can transform e-commerce, IBM and Fluid will offer a personal shopping app that understands and advises its users on key purchase decisions.

The app will act as an in-store sales representative.

IBM Watson invests in Fluid to better consumer shopping experience

Utilizing the Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS) app made with IBM Watson, consumers can ask specific questions, as they would a sales associate in a store, and receive personalized advice.

IBM said Fluid XPS will take advantage of Watson’s ability to answer consumers’ questions and learn from their responses and engage in real-time conversations. Watson will understand the context of its users’ questions, and learn about their needs based on the information they share.

For example, one could ask Watson for advice on what outdoor gear is best-suited for a five-day, June hiking adventure in Phoenix. Fluid XPS would call upon Watson’s understanding of natural language to identify clues from the user’s question suggesting particular needs around weather, terrain and trail conditions.

When complete, Fluid XPS will draw on data, including the brand’s product information, user reviews and online expert publications through IBM Watson, to provide consumers with informed recommendations according to their needs and desires. Consumers will receive valuable insights in making purchases and be able to interact with Watson on desktops, tablets and smartphones for the first time.

“By tapping into IBM Watson’s cognitive intelligence, Fluid is infusing the personalized, interactive feel of an in-store conversation into every digital shopping interaction,” said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson Group.

IBM is investing more than $1 billion into the Watson Group, focusing on research, development and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This includes $100 million earmarked for direct investment to support IBM’s ecosystem of start-ups and businesses building cognitive apps made with Watson.

A recent study from the IBM Institute for Business Value of more than 30,000 global consumers shows that 40 percent of shoppers use social, location and mobile technologies for information gathering, and yet are not likely to use them to purchase products.

Today, 50 percent of consumers spend 75 percent or more of their total shopping time conducting online research, according to data from the e-tailing group and PowerReviews.

In Pix: IBM Watson Group Senior Vice President Michael Rhodin explores the Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS) app made with IBM Watson, with Fluid VP – Global Business Development Brooke Aguilar.

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