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Kik Launches Interactive Chatbot to Engage Teen Shoppers

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Kik Bot Shop
Kik wants to help retailers reach smartphone-addicted teenagers. The Canadian company launched a fashion and beauty chatbot category Thursday that’s designed to make shopping more social.

Kik, which claims 40 percent of U.S. teenagers are among its 300 million registered users, is a free messaging app for smartphones that allows people to text, send selfies, play games and more. Thanks to the addition of this new category, comprising a mix of branded and brand-agnostic “concierge” bots, users can now include multiple bots in chats with friends for a better overall shopping experience.

“Shopping is a social experience and our new fashion and beauty category will allow our users to experience all the elements of the shopping journey—discovery, research and sharing—with their friends,” said Ted Livingston, founder and chief executive. “This provides a more direct way for brands to connect with teens in their native environment and demonstrates how services continue to evolve in chat.”

According to Kik, brands ranging from Sephora to Victoria’s Secret Pink that have been part of the Bot Shop since April have successfully engaged the platform’s teen demographic, with more than two billion messages exchanged to date.

What’s different about the fashion and beauty category is a new chat functionality that allows users to interact with more than one bot in the same conversation, offering teens a new way to browse outfits and shop together, all within their one-on-one or group texts.

Previously, users could call bots into conversations using mentions. Now, when searching for a specific product in the H&M bot, the retailer can introduce a concierge bot such as Celebstyle to provide tips and how-to videos specific to the chat and product. In addition, users can invite friends into the chat and ask for their opinion, while simultaneously chatting with a bot.

Fashion brands are increasingly turning to chatbots to reach young people. Tommy Hilfiger, for instance, launched one on Facebook Messenger to tie in with the launch of its Tommy x Gigi collection during New York Fashion Week. After asking a series of questions with multiple-choice answers, the bot offered more information about each look in the collection as well as some #GigiFacts. Similarly, Burberry’s Facebook Messenger bot shared content about the new collection, including its inspiration and animated sketches, as well as live customer service.

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