Zoovu, an artificial intelligence (AI) digital sales assistant platform, has announced that it has raised $14 million in Series B investment, a round led by Target Global and Beringea, with the latter having led the previous Series A round. Zoovu looks to solve issues that consumers face while navigating the seemingly endless inventories that ecommerce platforms throw up, making them indecisive and thus affecting their choices.
Zoovu calls this symptom “choice paralysis” – a situation that usually impacts consumers who are at the point of transitioning from a brick-and-mortar storefront to an ecommerce platform. Businesses are particularly hard-hit due to this, as it leads to poor brand experience, poor conversion rates, high product returns and loss of consumer trust on their end.
“Zoovu’s digital assistants – driven by artificial intelligence – guide customers through the decision-making process as if they were having an insightful conversation with a member of the staff,” said Eyal Malinger, investment director at Beringea, in his statement. “Zoovu therefore significantly improves brand experience, increases conversion rates and reduces returns.”
One of the issues with a traditional ecommerce platform is that consumers do not get the personalized experience that they get when they shop at a brick-and-mortar storefront, because there are no assistants to intuitively understand what they are looking for. This makes online platforms challenging to get accustomed to; they generally miss the context of a shopper.
Recommendation engines that Amazon introduced a few years back help in solving this to an extent – they drive suggestions by banking millions of data points that the platform accrues every day, while grouping people based on their searches and past buys. Apart from helping businesses keep their customers, it also helps them to upsell and cross-sell products.
For instance, if you were to buy a pair of Nikes on Amazon, aside from suggesting different models from Nike and other similar brands, it might also recommend matching socks to go with the purchase. If you were to buy shoes that cost more than the pair you initially set your sights on, it is upselling, and if you were to buy socks along with the pair of shoes, it is cross-selling.
However, the inherent problem in this setup is that though this is entirely possible for an ecommerce behemoth like Amazon or Alibaba, it is not easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to do this, as they need data and have to develop machine learning algorithms to make this a reality.
Zoovu’s assistant approaches the problem differently. Instead of showing everything that an inventory holds, it asks specific questions to the user to assess their needs and provides suggestions that are tailor-made to those needs. This way, customers do not have to browse through hundreds of search results that are of little relevance, thus saving time and energy.
“Brands are quickly realizing that the typical customer persona is vastly different now than it was even just a few years ago, and they’re being forced to adapt to a unique generation of consumers by adopting new technologies and engagement strategies,” said Rob Mullen, the CEO of Zoovu. “Zoovu is dedicated to alleviating these challenges by providing advanced behavioral data, which customers can take advantage of to differentiate themselves, allowing brands to deliver a more personalized and engaging customer experience. Our most recent funding round will be instrumental in helping us carry out this mission, while bolstering our continued software innovation efforts and growth within the Asian market.”
With the Series B investment, Zoovu has raised a total of $25 million in funding to date, and has partnered with several Fortune 100 brands. Its AI assistants have been deployed in over 300 categories including consumer electronics, healthcare, banking and telecommunication.