French home improvement chain Castorama has developed a voice assistant for DIY customers, using a combination of artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology.
The retailer, which is part of UK-based group Kingfisher, has recently integrated a new feature called Hello Casto into its mobile app. The AI-powered tool offers customers 53 tutorial videos that can be found and controlled entirely by voice while working.
The app also uses voice recognition to adjust the volume of the video, review or pass a step and pause. Videos available include floor, wall and bathroom projects; categories which are in high Castorama demand by its customers. New content and functionalities will be added to Hello Casto in the future.
“A true innovation of use, the Hello Casto app, was developed with the aim of democratising DIY and improving the customer experience,” explained Romain Roulleau, marketing, digital and customer director at Castorama.
“Simplicity is the best word to use to describe this tool. With Hello Casto, we are once again demonstrating the innovative capabilities of the brand and our teams, who are committed to supporting our customers through all the changes in their lives.”
To power the assistant and support other future applications of AI, Kingfisher’s data team has developed a proprietary AI orchestration framework, named Athena. This will manage prompting and interaction with a range of large language models, as well as other AI tools developed in-house. It incorporates a range of controls to ensure security and protect against sensitive or inappropriate content, helping Kingfisher to deliver the best possible AI experiences for customers.
The DIY assistant project builds on a wide range of initiatives developed by Kingfisher’s expert teams to harness the power of AI and data. Other examples include:
- AI-powered product recommendation and personalisation engines at B&Q and Screwfix, which are already generating up to 10% of e-commerce sales.
- AI-driven tools to optimise markdowns and clearance, with early pilots at B&Q delivering very encouraging gross margin improvement on clearance products.
- An end-to-end supply chain visibility tool to support lower inventory levels and faster replenishment cycles. Live in France, Iberia and Romania, the tool is already showing early success in reducing inventory levels without impacting product availability.
This case study appears in the DeliveryX Top1000 Europe 2023 report, which is available to pre-register for now. The report expands on the RetailX operations value chain section of the Top1000 report and delves further, starting with the supply chain, logistics, and the delivery experience. It also covers how retailers are minimising returns and deploying data and technology to succeed in what has been another challenging year.