Personal shoppers? So passé. Welcome to the new era of fashion apps and the “chatbot.” A new breed of virtual robots (trained by humans and powered by artificial intelligence) have been engineered to go one step further by exchanging personal (not automated) messages via social media and helping you source and buy coveted fashion pieces based on your shape, size, color preference, and even what’s in your current wardrobe, just like a real-life personal shopper would.
Mona is one such app. The brainchild of ex Amazon techies, it’s described by co-founder Orkun Atik as “an artificial intelligence based personal shopping assistant in your pocket,” and allows users to search for the perfect pair of denim or find the best price on that Marc Jacobs bag directly from your phone in a personalized, not one-size-fits-all, way.
Like a trusted confidante, Mona gets to know you better with each interaction, learning what you love or hate from her suggestions and even analyzing previous purchases via your inbox—link her to your email so she can see where you shop—to establish your personal sense of style and what might be missing from your arsenal.
“Our customers are very specific in their searches. Our most searched categories are jeans, dresses, and shirts, and they are also looking for deals and discounts,” said Atik of Mona’s digitally savvy consumer base.
And if we can believe the hype, Atik says in five years we will all be using these AI bots in lieu of search engines (Google, take note). Which isn’t all that hard to stomach when you consider 40 to 50 percent of us smartphone owners (which, let’s face it, is most of us) are now regularly using mobile apps and messaging platforms like Kik, iMessage and WhatsApp, all of which enlist the skills and services of chatbots. Really, just glance up from your phone and take a look around when you’re on the subway.