At the April 2017 Facebook Developer Conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new version of Facebook Messenger containing a host of features that would help ecommerce retailers fully engage with their customers. Women’s intimates retailer Aerie immediately launched a chatbot that took advantage of many of the new features.
The splash screen has a refreshing image and a welcome text representing the Aerie’s commitment to making women feel confident. The welcome screen uses emoticons in the buttons and has a persistent menu that clearly lays out the chatbot’s capabilities. The opening dialog describes what’s available and the buttons allow quick navigation.
Aerie’s attention to their customer’s correct sizing and fit are evident: they’ve made it a key feature in the line-up of options. Quick-fire questions with button driven responses makes it easy to figure out the best size and style, advice that’s hard to get online or even in store.
Once you start shopping, the products are presented in a carousel, suggesting the style and showing sample images. The chatbot then invites you to see real user-uploaded photos rather than their site imagery. The hashtag #AerieREAL is a significant part of this experience.
After browsing, when you pick a product you can actually purchase without leaving the chatbot window. The chatbot uses the WebView feature built into Facebook that takes you to the responsive website. In this case, the site detected we were in Europe and it presented us with an international purchase option. The chatbot shades into the background when the WebView is up.
We began again to check how much natural language the chatbot was able to handle, but in this case, it didn’t fare too well. Once we saw the image in the carousel, we tried variations on Black Bikini, but the chatbot had no natural language capabilities. However, the button-driven experience was strong to allow it to service the narrow set of usecases.
Finally exploring the persistent menu, we found the customer service feature. If you select this option, your texts are sent directly to a human customer service representative. This implies that the chatbot will not automatically discern whether a human agent is required or not.
We liked the Aerie chatbot. The user experience is solid and very appropriate to the products and brand. #AerieREAL is a great concept and it makes good use of the new Messenger features. The lack of natural language is a technological disadvantage but we don’t think it will detract too much from the overall user experience. Nice one, Aerie.