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Tech Startup Unveils Autonomous Retail Bots with Human-Like Features is bringing the human touch back to digital selling—and the tech startup’s new autonomous retail platform is tapping bots to communicate with consumers on their purchasing journeys.

This week, launched its Cognitive Selling Platform—an AI-powered tool that delivers human-like selling interactions on retailers’ digital channels, such as store displays and websites. Combining selling expertise and free-form natural language, the platform’s bots provide human-like sales assistance to consumers when they shop on apps, social media, kiosks and other digital channels, enabling retailers to proactively sell their products in multiple locations.

After piloting the platform with other independent retailers, aims to bring the platform to multiple sectors, including the fitness and outdoor industries, so retailers can boost sales, speed up their operations and deliver on consumers’ expectations by leveraging AI.

“The vast number of selling ‘bots’ are largely dependent on pre-determined static workflows and smart replies that constrain the user’s interactions, and this simplistic approach has given bots the negative perception of being unusable for anything other than very narrow and predictable domains such as weather, news and fast food,” said Cheng Zou, chief executive officer of “We have built capabilities not seen before in the market and are applying those to the most challenging applications of retail where shoppers need to overcome overwhelming choices, complex feature considerations and personal concerns.”

Unlike other technology solutions, the platform provides human-like engagement capabilities. It powers virtual sales assistants—also known as the bots—that communicate with shoppers using colloquial text messaging or a human-like voice. While the consumer browses products, the virtual sales assistants can read shifting considerations on a consumer’s purchasing journey and provide personalized recommendations. Using a combination of 27 selling techniques and information from more than one million products, the virtual sales assistants leverage deep domain knowledge to help consumers find the right products. Instead of depending on recommendations and search, retailers can proactively sell products on digital channels—and use the bots to drive consumer purchases.

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[Read more about AI’s role in retail innovation: 8 AI Trends to Watch in Retail]’s first commercially available virtual assistant is for wine retailing. The Virtual Sommelier can help consumers select wines based on food pairing, region, taste profile and varietals. Similar to visiting a wine shop or website, consumers can engage with the Virtual Sommelier as they would with a human sales associate or customer service representative. With the Virtual Sommelier, consumers can find the wines they desire without the hassle of a long store trip or lack of communication associated with some e-commerce outlets.

“People rely on human assistance, and the reality is that most wine specialists know only a few wines and don’t always have the ability to match a user’s need with the most optimal selection. This is where not only helps find the optimal wine, but also explains to a user why it is so,” Zou added. “This has not been done before with the finesse that we do.”