December 12th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

Some people are naturally skilled at picking out the perfect gift–they enjoy it, put their hearts into the act, and the recipient is rarely disappointed. Others are not so fortunate, and can use some assistance in this department. I–who have seen Fitbits fall by the wayside, and hardcover cookbooks collect dust on the shelf–fit into the latter camp, so I was pleased to learn that Nordstrom has introduced a new chatbot that’s designed to help shoppers find the right holiday presents.

Nordstrom’s bot–which was developed by the retailer with
Snaps, and accessible on Facebook Messenger and Kik–asks users a series of questions about the recipient’s interests and preferences, and leverages artificial intelligence to make an educated guess at the best gift for that person. For instance, the might ask where the recipient is most likely to go if they could take a vacation, or what factors are most important to them when they’re looking for a restaurant. It then surfaces a number of suggested answers to choose from, and when it has enough to work with, scans Nordstrom’s online catalogue for the best matches. GeekWire reports that users who are still having trouble can request to connect with a human agent, who can then offer further assistance.

This strikes me as a clever move on Nordstrom’s part–they’ve identified a pain point that plagues many Christmas shoppers, and are tapping an emerging technology to personalize a common customer experience. The app is available through December 24th, but hopefully they decide to keep it open year round for Bar Mitzvah’s, birthdays, weddings, etc.

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