How Gen AI Is Helping One French Retailer Enhance Shopping Experiences

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As consumers have become use to have access to a vast array of products and services across a vast array of shopping channels, retailers are faced with the challenge of meeting these expectations.

While offering customers product details and a variety of options can be helpful, too much information, can actually do the opposite.

In fact, Accenture’s recently launched Consumer Pulse Survey, found that the sheer number of choices, messages, ads and claims consumers now face is leading to almost three quarters (74%) abandoning their purchases completely.

This is the kind of situation new and emerging technologies, such as the transformative power of generative AI (gen AI), can help, by reducing the “noise” around decision-making and boosting, loyalty, and sales in the process.

For example, gen AI can act as a shopping advisor — think of it as a ‘sales advisor’ or ‘guide’ that is present throughout the purchasing journey — providing recommendations based on what a customer cares most about in the moment.

For the six in 10 consumers who find it difficult to evaluate a product’s credentials at the point of purchase in store, this is a problem that gen AI can help solve.

Not only that, but the technology can help solve another problem retailers commonly face, and that is the challenge of keeping the customer within their brand experience, so they don’t go shopping with competitors for inspiration and advice. This also means that retailers can get more insight into their existing customer base for selling and loyalty programs.

In fact, Accenture Song research found that companies applying generative AI to customer-related initiatives can expect to achieve 25% higher revenue after five years than those that focused only on productivity.

I sat down with François Chardon, Marketing & Digital Director of Les Mousquetaires’ DIY chains, to discuss how it’s harnessing gen AI to enhance the customer and employee experiences at one of its flagship home improvement brands, Bricorama.

Since GenAI burst onto the scene, there’s been a lot of talk about the ways it can enhance the retail experience. What prompted you to tap into this new technology?

Do-it-yourself (DIY) is in the French DNA. Most people undertake home improvement and decoration projects without the help of a professional, this can often lead to them having to navigate a whole range of challenges along the way– from buying too much or too little paint, to not having the right tools or techniques to get the desired results.

That was the inspiration for pAInt, a virtual shopping assistant tool designed to guide customers through each stage of their home improvement projects.

Available on, the conversational tool has been infused with gen AI so that act as a shopping advisor, providing recommendations based on what the customer cares more about in the moment. That could include help with paint colors and finishes, decorating ideas from Bricorama’s video content, demonstrations, instant advice on paint quantity and accessories. Users are also able to buy the products with a single click.

While some customers know exactly what they want to purchase, others require help to discover, find and buy. This is where pAInt can help, by helping them search in a more conversational and natural way. For example, “I need decorating ideas for my fifteen-year-old son’s bedroom, that comes within budget, with options for a study area,” versus, “I need three tins of white paint.”

What are some of the factors you had to consider when developing pAInt?

The technology is advancing incredibly fast, so it was critically important we ensure AI is used responsibly. For us, that meant ensuring the pAInt advisor is trained on our patented data, with safeguards in place to limit its responses to home improvement projects only. It was crucial we mitigated against any potential brand damage or privacy issues. That meant creating, and extensively testing, a GDPR-compliant end-to-end experience, so that pAInt would only discuss customers’ painting and home improvement needs.

We also ensured that pAInt was fully integrated with the Bricorama e-commerce systems, so customers can easily buy the recommended products and that they were in stock and ready to be added to the shopping basket.

How has pAInt been received by your customers?

Our customers have reacted very positively. Our data shows that they generally return to us to find what they need for their projects within 24-hours of using pAInt. We’re also very pleased with the strong engagement levels we’re seeing.

Customers are sending, on average, 17 queries over the course of two days, which further demonstrates the problem we are solving with pAInt. It is also providing us with useful insights on browsing and shopping trends that can be fed back into the business and used to inform ongoing business and sales strategies.

What’s particularly good to see is that a proportion of customers are going through the complete purchasing journey – from inspiration to product recommendation, to education and how-to advice – via the tool.

Do you have any plans to expand into other parts of the business?

Yes. We’re already looking rolling the out a similar tool to employees so they can better support customers at the point of sale. We’re also exploring how to extend to other product categories within the home improvement space.

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