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Sears taps AI to sell tires


Sears has a new strategy to help rebuild its brand and drive profitability: artificial intelligence.

Eyeing relationships with its Sears Automotive customers, the embattled retailer is piloting its “Digital Tire Journey,” a web app that relies on IBM Watson to help shoppers buy tires. Unlike typical ecommerce websites that often rely on a drop-down menu of pre-selected tire terms, Sears’ artificial intelligence-based web app delves into the driving and lifestyle preferences of shoppers.

To find the best tire, Sears analyzes the vehicle's make, model and tire size, and how it supports their shoppers’ everyday routines and hobbies. Leveraging IBM’s Natural Language Classifer, a service that analyzes and understands the intent behind text and returns a corresponding classification, Sears can identify the appropriate tires to fit shoppers’ driving preferences within the following categories: Comfort Warrior, Value Seeker, Off-Roader, High Performer, Safety Seeker and Winter Warrior.

When launching the online app, shoppers are asked, “When it comes to tires, what's most important to you?” Based on their reply, the Digital Tire Journey shows what type of driving style they have, and recom-mends tires with consumer ratings to assist drivers in making an informed purchasing decision, the retailer said.

"Our vision is to put our members' lives in drive. We do that by investing in people, products and technology to keep them moving safely on the road of life," said Brian Kaner, president of Sears Auto Centers. "The Digital Tire Journey is an innovative service that helps customers cut through the clutter while integrating digital, mobile and online with in-store shopping."

The solution also offers shoppers the option to 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, Sears said.
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