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Q&A: Boxed rolling out tools to elevate customer experience

Boxed has one goal for the new year: improve the shopping experience.

The online retailer has built its reputation on selling everyday essentials in bulk form at a discount, with orders shipped to customers’ doorsteps in days. Customers tend to struggle, however, at estimating when orders will arrive — as well as where to store the bulky packages.

To reduce friction in the online buying experience and step up its customer service efforts, Boxed is launching three new tools, including one that involves augmented reality. Co-founder and CTO William Fong discussed the company’s newest endeavors in a Q&A with Chain Store Age.

CSA: The first tool you are launching is called AR View. What is it and how does does it work?
Fong: While our shoppers like to buy in bulk, some don’t consider how merchandise will fit in their homes. AR View is an augmented reality tool that will solve this issue. Using ARKit, a new framework on the iOS 11 platform for iPhone and iPad, out AR View lets shoppers compare sizes of our merchandise against other retail products, the dimensions of their pantry, and other specifications.

As shoppers enter an item’s product detail page, they click on the page’s camera icon and take a picture of their space. The tool enables users to spin around the product to see its dimensions, read the nutrition label and virtually place it in their space. It helps the customer envision how to store it, and offer a new way to engage with product — even if it is not physically in their hands yet.

The solution initially will be applied to 30 of our best-selling products, including toilet paper, and our food snacks.

CSA: You are also launching a chatbot tool. Tell us about it.
Fong: Initially, we considered using a chatbot to improve how our shoppers engage with our support team. Then we realized by expanding its functionality, a chatbot would be a good way to re-engage with our customers, and create a new touch point.

Based on this theory, we created Bulky, a chatbot that allows shoppers to track orders, build baskets, and discover new products. It will be integrated with our Smart StockUp feature, our automated replenishment service that is based on machine learning.

Integrated here, Bulky can monitor items consumers are low on, and help them easily reorder them.

CSA: What is the third tool being launched?
Fong: We will introduce group ordering, a service that will allow users to build their cart with friends — even if they aren't Boxed customers. We create a link that can be shared and gives all users real-time access to the active Boxed shopping cart — it also allows them to add and remove merchandise.

This new tool takes the friction and time it takes to text order confirmations between family and friends. Once the order is complete, the main user confirms the order and receives a notification that they are free to check out.

We expect all three features, which will launch early this month, to elevate the Boxed experience. As more shoppers engage with the tools, we will continue to fine-tune their functionality.
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