Global marketing company The Mars Agency has partnered with US drinks retailer BevMo! to trial a voice-activated, digital whiskey shopping assistant, according to a post by The Spirits Business.
The Mars Agency’s Smart Aisle platform has the intention to assist shoppers with product selection, and offer information and educational tools at the point of purchase. The platform combines a voice-activated interface, artificial intelligence and LED shelf lights.
Smart Aisle will ask shoppers questions about their whiskey preferences and then filter the assortment down to three recommended bottles, reading out names and descriptions. Shelf lights highlight the locations of the recommended bottles.
The platform will be tested at BevMo! stores in California in Oakland, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mira Mesa, and Carmel Mountain until the end of March.
The latest test for the platform follows a trial in New York for a similar Smart Aisle whiskey selector. The two-month pilot resulted in a 20% year-on-year sales lift for the featured bottles and positive feedback from shoppers.
The partnership signals how voice technology continues to penetrate industries to enhance the customer experience. In this case a most debated one: the shopping experience overall. SmartAisle positive pilot and now expansion to California proves the aggregated value to consumers and might be the first of many smart ways to talk in stores. SmartAisle is described as a Voice Activated In-Store Shopper Tool. Last year The Mars Agency announced it as “the first virtual voice-powered shopping assistant, called “Bottle Genius Powered by Smart Aisle” using Alexa.”
Using Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) capabilities, the Bottle Genius skill for Alexa provides a personalized, voice-powered customer assistant that helps shoppers in Bottlerocket’s whiskey aisle. Customers can receive three curated whiskey recommendations after answering basic directional questions such as current favorite, purchase occasion, or desire to try something new. The service also provides tasting information as well as the opportunity to learn more about the brands.
Ethan Goodman, senior vice president of technology and innovation at The Mars Agency said at the time of the first announcement last year:
“We believe voice technologies like the Bottle Genius skill powered by Smart Aisle will trump mobile as the preferred mode or interface for shoppers within the next five years”.
Rob Rivenburgh, CEO of The Mars Agency North America pointed out “Industry advances like Smart Aisle will continue to transform the way people shop for products and services with their favorite retailers.