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Three retailers step up shopper engagement with bots


FreshDirect, Subway and The Cheesecake Factory have added a new item to their menus — conversational commerce.

Through a partnership with MasterCard, the three brands are now using artificial intelligence (AI)-based bots to enable consumers to browse menus, build orders and securely checkout via Masterpass — all without leaving the Messenger chat-based platform.

For example, on online fresh food grocer FreshDirect, the bots enables customers to browse, shop and purchase groceries directly within Messenger. Meanwhile, Subway customers can use the bot to order their sandwich or salad order, and even add sides, toppings, snacks and drinks, and then pay for their meal through the chat app. The bot is currently available in more than 26,500 Subway restaurants in the United States.

The Cheesecake Factory is taking a different approach. By merging CashStar’s real-time gifting capability, which instantly approves and activates gift cards, the chain’s bot assists consumers as they purchase personalized gift cards directly through Messenger.

“Through this commerce-enabled bot we are able to leverage a new engagement channel with our guests,” said David Gordon, president of The Cheesecake Factory. “The bot experience delivers the convenience of customizing a gift card through Messenger integrated with Masterpass payment functionality to enable a simplified checkout experience.”

The bots support all Masterpass-enabled wallets from banks including Citi and Capital One.
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