MM Awards

All iWant for Christmas

Alex Spencer

For many people, a major barrier to getting on board with mCommerce is the lack of good recommendations like the ones we can get in store, from sales staff. With the Christmas shopping season well under way, it seems that we could all use an online personalised shopper to help buy that perfect gift for friends and family, particularly one that’s conveniently available on mobile devices, with real-time recommendations.

Human-like interaction
Siri, on the iPhone 4S, is arguably one of the coolest virtual assistants currently on the market, but – this year at least – won’t be much help with festive shopping. What could really help save Christmas are mobile virtual shopping assistants. Imagine how great it would be to have a personal shopper who knows what you want and what you'd like best.

But can this really exist, you ask? The answer is that the technology is already headed there – thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps made in the mobile web, we’re living in an age where recommendation technology can help shoppers figure out what they want and make mobile purchases. In the coming years, solutions will evolve to handle a more human-like interaction and quality of recommendations, and a much more relevant customer experience. By using predictive input and capturing taste and needs in real time, for example, virtual assistants could make it possible to have a great shopping experience on mobile.

Personal interactions
Specifically, the role of virtual assistants in daily life will increase as they handle tasks and/or act as shopping assistants, keeping track of your profile and desires to alert you when the right thing comes your way, combining your preference with location. Companies will employ virtual assistants for better service, and a more personal interaction with the customer, and mobiles will be equipped to handle complex recommendations. Siri is the first, but certainly not the last, virtual assistant we will see.

In time, mobile virtual shopping assistants will make it quicker and easier for users to find the right products. And ultimately, by providing relevant alerts and benefits, they’ll also provide retailers on the mobile web with a way to form and maintain create stronger relationships with their customers.

Gustaf Sahlman is CEO at Expertmaker