How AIs, like Siri, Could Become Our Proxy Shoppers

4 minute read
| Editorial

People of means don’t spin their wheels on frustrating shopping expeditions, however, AIs could be the equalizer for the rest of us.

young man shopping for a shirt.

Today, smart devices are used to answer fairly simple questions and do fairly simple tasks. Here’s a chart that shows the most frequent uses. However, over time we can expect these devices to become more and more plugged-in to our more intimate and technical needs. That’s scary in terms of privacy.

Recently, I had a shopping experience that changed my thinking about that privacy issue.

The Perfect Pillow

I needed a new pillow to sleep on. So my wife and I went to JCPenney. An obvious choice, right? But it was a disaster. The pillow section was huge. The branding and pricing ranges were not clearly marked. It was chaos, a haystack of pillows and my needle was nowhere to be found.

Worse, no one approached us. We wandered around looking for help, but none could be found. In the distance, a cashier was barely visible, but she was taking money. It’s a lost cause to wait in line at the cashier for shopping assistance.

After 10 minutes, we left the store empty handed.

Next door, at Dillards, there was lots of help. Several sales people greeted us right as we entered the store. Alas, their pillow selection was so-so, and I didn’t see just what I wanted. Close. No cigar.

Plan B. Super Target. A few days later, we were at a Super Target. Their pillow section was not large, two aisles, but it was well marked and sorted by price. I could see, visually, where I wanted to be. Then, I selected a pillow in my price range that checked all the boxes. Less was more.

I was very happy. I paid US$10.99.

Plan C. We didn’t need this option. But it was on my mind, just in case. Casper is one of our wonderful sponsors, and they sell what looks to be very nice, high-tech pillows. But this awesome pillow is out of my price range.

Plan D. When I started thinking about this, I wondered what Siri would have to say on my iPhone. I asked. The result was a text response on the screen for a link to Bed, Bath & Beyond. But not to pillows in particular. Just the home page. I would have had to search further. Frustration.

This buying adventure revealed several things. When shopping for a personal item, be it linens, food, clothing, or technology items, there are many, many options. Some of them are a waste of time. Some of them could be better accomplished by a helper who can take the time to do some reconnaissance and figure out the very best option and price. You know. Jeeves.

This is what our AIs could really help with.

Next page: Shopper Identity. Apple’s disconnect. The future of shopping with AIs.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. create a relationship with the customer even as the high tech AIs dominate the conversation with customers.

    “Please listen carefully as our menu has recently changed”

    ‘I want to speak to a real person’

    “I am sorry I didn’t understand that”

    ‘I want to speak to a real person’

    “I will first need your account number so that I may direct your call. Please enter your 9 digit account number followed by the # sign.”

    ‘123456789#’

    “This is a real person, what is your 9 digit account number?”

Add a Comment

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter, Facebook) or Register for a TMO Account