Lotte agrees to leverage IBM's Watson for retail

IBM (NYSE: IBM) has signed an agreement with the Lotte Group to provide cloud-based IBM Watson solutions to help the Group deliver innovation across the business and become a world-class retail company.

Lotte Group represents the country´s largest retailer in a highly competitive retail market and is one of Korea´s top five companies, providing products and services to its customers through online channels, mobile services and offline department stores, marts, convenience stores and duty-free shops.

Lotte Group will use Watson technologies to maximize insights from the huge amount of structured and unstructured customer data collected through its various channels, including the Lotte Members program, deriving valuable learnings about customer preferences and product feedback. With a deeper understanding of its data, Lotte will be enabled to offer more personalized services to customers, consistent product information and expert advice tailored to individual customer needs.

This agreement prioritizes two “Artificial Intelligence Innovation Themes” for which to apply Watson. Lotte and IBM will team to create an ´Intelligent Shopping Advisor´ for customers and an internal employee ´Cognitive Business Decision Advisor´ for the Group´s retail affiliates.

The ´Intelligent Shopping Adviser´ will be first introduced to Lotte´s department stores. Customers will have their own virtual personal assistant offering help from product recommendations, shop location guidance, to support for online pickup service. Customers will benefit from greater convenience and an enhanced customer experience as they interact, in natural language, with a service that understands the questions asked, in the context of the individual shopper´s needs.

IBM will collaborate with teams from the Lotte Information & Communications and the Lotte Members affiliates for IT system support services, data integration and data analysis. Within the next five years, Lotte plans to build and upgrade its artificial intelligence-based application for business innovation to support personalized services throughout the customer life cycle. These initiatives are part of Lotte Group´s technology roadmap to expand the introduction of IBM Watson to all affiliates from retail to food, chemical, tourism and finance.

Lotte is based in Korea and has nine affiliates and 120,000 employees.

Watson represents a new era in computing called cognitive computing, where systems understand the world in a way more similar to humans: through senses, learning, and experience.