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 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.
Bra sizing and fit are a huge factors in customer satisfaction, so a key feature in the line-up of options. Quick-fire questions with button driven responses makes it easy to figure out the best bra for you. Maybe this is advice that you’d never 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. #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 I was in Europe and it presented an international purchase option. The chatbot drops shaded into the background when the WebView is up.
I 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 I saw the image in the carousel, I tried variations on Black Bikini, but the chatbot had no natural language capabilities. Yet the button driven experience was strong to allow it to service the narrow set of usecases.
Finally exploring the persistent menu, I found the customer service feature. If you select this option, then your notes 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 in general; the user experience is solid and very appropriate to the products and brand. The #AerieREAL is a great concept and there is 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.