Otto Group testing AI-assisted advice tool on 180,000 products

Online retailer working with Google Cloud - tests underway in online store using desktop and app
10 August 2023
Der KI-Assistent von Otto in Anwendung auf einem Smartphone

The Hamburg-based Otto Group has begun testing an AI-assisted digital product advice in its online store and app. The group is working with Google Cloud on the use of generative artificial intelligence which summaries reviews and descriptions of products and answers complex customer queries quickly. The function is initially available for around 180,000 products.

Swift tests of new technologies and accessibility

Otto is the first online store in Germany to test an AI assistant in both the desktop version and the app. The aim is to improve customer advice and gain further insight into the use of AI. Olaf Schlüter, Head of Product Management Shopping Platform at Otto, stressed: "When searching for specific product information, many users sift through reviews on a product and scroll through endless results. AI can make that easier." The company is committed to testing new technologies quickly and making them available to customers. "The test run with the AI assistant gives us an opportunity to compare exactly whether and how helpful AI really is for customers," Schlüter added. Only half of the customers will initially have access to the AI tool; the others will not see the digital assistant.

Improving orientation, customer satisfaction and return rates

Otto's AI assistant answers customers' queries using a chat bar above the product reviews. The answer is generated in seconds based on existing ratings, product descriptions and product titles. To ensure the most balanced answers possible, the digital function is only available for products with at least 50 reviews. The long-term goal is for the AI assistant to improve customer guidance and customer satisfaction as well aslower return rates. The tool is based on Google's PaLM 2-"Large Language Model". However, the data remains with Otto. The e-commerce retailer already uses AI e.g., to summarize frequently mentioned terms in customer reviews, in image recognition and for fraud prevention. Otto also plans to use AI-based robots in logistics in future.