Messaging platform Kik is implementing a new interface that allows users to communicate with fashion and beauty chatbots.

Users chatting with a brand like H&M or Sephora can use supplementary bots at the same time to access additional information, like product reviews, YouTube tutorials and blogger inspiration for how to use the looks. In order to engage with so-called concierge bots, they can tag them in the chat using specified tags to talk with them directly.

The program allows users to interact with brand bots and separate concierge bots within the same chat window, streamlining chat capability and flow of information. Jaclyn Ling, director of retail at Kik, said the effort was launched after the company’s initial foray into beauty chatbots with its partnership with Sephora in April, and it has since expanded both participating brands and messaging capabilities.

Kik example

A user activating the beauty tutorial bot, @beautytube, within the Sephora chat window


Concierge bot @celebstyle helps users find similar styles to celebrities 

The effort also integrates a social element, in which friends messaging on Kik can activate brand and concierge bots within their personal message. Ling said this allows friends to discuss potential purchases and ask questions about products without leaving the message. Ling said it keeps people within the app rather than consulting outside browsers or programs.

She added that while there have been an increasing number of luxury brands jumping on bots to connect with consumers — including Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger taking to Facebook to debut new products during New York and London Fashion week — many are either too rudimentary or difficult to use.

“The [luxury fashion bots] are still very, very basic,” she said. “There’s a limited amount someone can do in a bot. Our hope is allowing bots to communicate with retail bots will give them a much richer experience It will go beyond viewing a lookbook for the brand.”

Mariah Chase, CEO of plus-size retailer Eloquii which recently launched a Facebook chatbot, told Glossy last week that launching a bot has been a rewarding but challenging experience for the brand, as the company seeks out better ways to connect with consumers.

“What can and will be powerful to us will be a one-to-one customer conversation which helps her put looks together in a rapid fire, immediate and visual interface, whether or not she completes the transaction there,” Chase said.

Ling said Kik will start by targeting the bots to teenagers as they are already native to messaging at this scale, with the hope that it will extend to older demographics. An estimated 42 percent of Kik’s user base of 275 million subscribers is age 18-24, according to comScore, as Digiday reported.

“Bots are so brand new, and unfamiliar to many generations,” she said. “We do feel like it’s really going to take off and the first adopters will be the teenagers. They’re a generation that’s mobile first, it’s not so weird for them to chat with a bot because they’re used to it.”

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