Sears Utilizes IBM Watson's Artificial Intelligence

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Sears Utilizes IBM Watson's Artificial Intelligence

By Jamie Grill-Goodman - 01/24/2017

Sears Auto Center is now tapping artificial intelligence to deliver superior digital customer service.

"Tires are a core part of our business and many people are researching tire options online before they either visit a store or make a purchase online," Brian Kaner, president of Sears Auto, told RIS News. "Understanding there are many tire options with a variety of technical aspects that meet a variety of member needs, we wanted to provide an intuitive, convenient way to shop."

Thus the automotive maintenance and repair services provider has introduced the pilot launch of the "Digital Tire Journey", a web app that relies on IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier service to help Sears Automotive customers identify the appropriate tires to fit their driving preferences. Tires fall within the following categories: Comfort Warrior, Value Seeker, Off-Roader, High Performer, Safety Seeker and Winter Warrior.

"This app is a tool to help members identify the tires that fit their vehicle and match their lifestyle," he continued. "Integrating the Watson Natural Language Classifier with the creativity of the tire journey, we can provide our members with a unique way to research and purchase new tires. We’re excited by the potential to expand this tool to other parts of our business."

E-commerce websites selling tires often limit users to a drop-down menu of pre-selected tire terms without considering the driving and lifestyle preferences of shoppers. The Sears Auto Digital Tire Journey is being created to provide tire recommendations based on the driver style through a customer's response to the question, "When it comes to tires, what's most important to you?"

A soccer dad may answer, "I am concerned about driving my kids safely" so tires that have higher safety ratings are presented. After the user types in an answer, the Digital Tire Journey shows what type of driving style they have with the help of the Watson Natural Language Classifier service. The tool then recommends tires with consumer ratings to assist drivers in making an informed purchasing decision.

"We envision the adoption of this tool to grow as more members take the journey and enjoy the intuitive, creative way to research for new tires." said Kaner. "With that growth, we’ll gain additional real member ratings that will help users make informed purchasing decisions.  We will also continue to monitor the different profiles we have built into the IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier service to ensure we provide the most applicable profiles for driving styles and lifestyles to meet the changing members’ unique needs. Focusing on our members’ true needs and desires and leveraging the latest technologies, we will provide genuine value by recommending the right products and connecting them to our stores."

To get tire results, shoppers enter a license plate or make/model of the vehicle to view tires from top brands that are right for the driver, along with objective ratings from previous customers.

Users have several purchase options: buy the tires online, schedule an appointment for installation at the nearest Sears Auto Center or reach a call center agent to ask additional questions and purchase the tires by phone. The Digital Tire Journey provides an 800 number throughout the tool to contact a Sears Auto Tire Expert for questions.

"This is definitely designed to be the entry point of the integrated retail journey for our members," explained Kaner. "This online tool was built to support the ever-growing member need to research online before making a purchase and even before entering a store. 

"Another great benefit is that our in-store sales associates use the tool to walk our members through the journey if they have not done any upfront research, giving them the opportunity to help the member make an informed decision based on their vehicle need, their lifestyle and driving needs as well as real member ratings."