The FINANCIAL — IBM on December 20 announced it has signed an agreement with the Lotte Group to provide cloud-based IBM Watson solutions to help the Group deliver innovation across the business and become a world-class retail company.
Lotte Group represents the country’s largest retailer in a highly competitive retail market and is one of Korea’s top five companies, providing products and services to its customers through online channels, mobile services and offline department stores, marts, convenience stores and duty-free shops.
Lotte Group will use Watson technologies to maximize insights from the huge amount of structured and unstructured customer data collected through its various channels, including the Lotte Members program, deriving valuable learnings about customer preferences and product feedback. With a deeper understanding of its data, Lotte will be enabled to offer more personalized services to customers, consistent product information and expert advice tailored to individual customer needs, according to IBM.
Lotte Group CEO Hwang Gak-gyu said, “We have selected IBM as our partner to fulfill Lotte Group’s commitment to contribute to the development of Korea’s national economy and retail industry by responding to a rapidly changing business environment. With cognitive technology, Lotte will deliver new value and innovation for the future. Over the years, IBM has consistently made long-term investments in cognitive computing which is backed by a broad portfolio of industry solutions and services from consulting to enterprise-class computing, system integration and IT operations.”
This agreement prioritizes two “Artificial Intelligence Innovation Themes” for which to apply Watson. Lotte and IBM will team to create an ‘Intelligent Shopping Advisor’ for customers and an internal employee ‘Cognitive Business Decision Advisor’ for the Group’s retail affiliates.
The ‘Intelligent Shopping Adviser’ will be first introduced to Lotte’s department stores. Customers will have their own virtual personal assistant offering help from product recommendations, shop location guidance, to support for online pickup service. Customers will benefit from greater convenience and an enhanced customer experience as they interact, in natural language, with a service that understands the questions asked, in the context of the individual shopper’s needs.
For example, a shopper can ask a question like “my 12-year-old daughter’s birthday is next week. She likes reading and fashion, what is popular now and how can I purchase this gift?” The service will be designed to offer tailored recommendations, transaction support, advance notifications for customer’s important life events and learn to recognize an individual’s interests. With relevant choices and purchase knowledge, customers will not need to search and save their time and resources.
In combination with the ‘Intelligent Shopping Advisor’, Lotte will adopt a ‘Cognitive Business Decision Advisor’ that employees can leverage for new product development across the organization. Using Watson technologies, Lotte will gain new insights for better decision making with the analysis of huge amounts of data from various sources like social media, blogs, news articles and customer data from point of sale terminals.
IBM will collaborate with teams from the Lotte Information & Communications and the Lotte Members affiliates for IT system support services, data integration and data analysis. Within the next five years, Lotte plans to build and upgrade its artificial intelligence-based application for business innovation to support personalized services throughout the customer life cycle. These initiatives are part of Lotte Group’s technology roadmap to expand the introduction of IBM Watson to all affiliates from retail to food, chemical, tourism and finance.
“IBM is committed to helping our clients accelerate the development and delivery of cognitive computing on cloud into markets and industries where we can see tremendous opportunity. Together, Lotte and IBM are bringing Watson cognitive technologies to an important business challenge in the Korean market and globally – innovative, more personalized customer services,” said IBM Korea General Manager Jeffrey Rhoda.