As online shopping and ecommerce race forward with ever more sophisticated technology, Drapers rounds up the latest retail tech developments, from social shopping to augmented reality.
Ebay launches chatbot shopping assistant
Ebay is testing shopping chatbot, the eBay Shop Bot, in partnership with Facebook’s messenger service. Currently in beta testing, the bot allows shoppers to search for items across categories including fashion, electronics, health and beauty and sporting goods. Shop Bot makes recommendations and curates collections based on the options chosen in the app, and functions through the Facebook Messenger app on both mobile and desktop versions of Facebook.
Link Big wins John Lewis investment
Tech start-up Link Big was one of three companies to win investment funding from John Lewis last week, under the retailer’s JLabs incubator project. Israel-based Link secured £50,000 to help develop technology that creates product links on Instagram posts. The technology creates a link that appears in a retailer’s Instagram profile, and takes the user directly to the latest product mentioned on the feed. After running a pilot scheme with Asos and working with John Lewis, the company is in talks to begin a pilot scheme with jeans etailer Donna Ida. Nadav Raviv, CEO of Link Big, described its aim as being “to reinvent the Instagram experience for retail”.
Facebook launches local Marketplace
Earlier this month, Facebook launched its own selling platform, Marketplace, which allows users to search for and sell items within their local area. Although Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of marketplace items, it allows users to search and communicate through Facebook Messenger. Currently only available through the iPhone and Android Facebook app in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, there are plans to extend the service to desktop and additional countries in the coming months.
Emma J Shipley’s augmented-reality shopping experience
Print designer Emma J Shipley is set to launch augmented-reality shopping app Scarfi, which not only allows users to try on her scarves virtually, but also brings the prints to life. Developed in partnership with the Fashion Innovation Agency and tech company Meshmerise, the app is already live, but launches with a pop-up shop in Westfield London this week.