North Face, IBM and Fluid launch shopping experience

20 January 2016 3 min. read
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The North Face is working together with Fluid and IBM to provide customers with an interactive shopping experience that helps them hone in on their specific clothing needs based on a series of questions interpreted by IBM Watson’s cognitive computing system. The aim of the new experience is to help customers fulfil their needs more accurately through a personalised feeling interface.

Personalising the shopping experience is becoming an important area of differentiation for companies. While big data analytics provides general background information about customers, having the customer provide their needs, and correctly interpreting those needs into a shopping choice, may be able to improve the shopping experience as well as conversion rates. Recent developments, by IBM among others, in cognitive computing that are ble to fluidly interpret questions and answers are now being leveraged to create new shopping experiences.

The North Face is an iconic brand owned by the VF Corporation. The line, founded in 1966, was designed for outdoor adventurers, and today provides rugged equipment for athletes and armatures to enjoy the great outdoors. Helping customers identify the right equipment for the right environmental context in an online environment has in recent years been a difficulty for specialist provides like the North Face.

North Face, IBM and Fluid launch shopping experience

Fluid was founded in 1999 and designs customers’ shopping experience through digital channels.  The company seeks to provide software solutions that drive conversation, satisfaction and brand loyalty. One of Fluid’s new offerings is the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper (XPS).

This XPS, now offered as a beta to North Face customers, harnesses IBM Watson’s artificially intelligent language processing. North Face customers will be asked questions related to their needs, as well as their requirements. The shopper will then be led to products that meet their needs based on IBM Watson’s cognitive computing’s interpretation of their answers. The difference, according to the companies, is that “Unlike other product recommendation engines, this conversation with the shopper is what enables XPS to refine its recommendations and deliver a more accurate result.”

Example of the shopping experience

“The retail industry, like many others, is awash in structured and unstructured data - from social media to text messages to customer reviews. By tapping into Watson, retailers now have the power to turn this data into meaningful insights that can make the shopping experience more intuitive, informed and enjoyable,” comments Stephen Gold, IBM Watson VP Business Development & Partner Program. “Market leaders like The North Face and Fluid are demonstrating how cognitive technologies can redefine how brands connect and engage customers.”

“Digital retail continues to transform the way we shop, and embedding cognitive technologies is the next major step in engaging customers,” adds Kent Deverell, CEO of Fluid. “By tapping into Watson, XPS aims to provide The North Face shoppers helpful, relevant and intuitive product recommendations. We believe this kind of engaging, personalised interactive experience will become the norm for online shoppers in years to come.”