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Introducing Antony, the virtual concierge and the future of in-store retailing

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Visitors to the recent Retail Asia Expo in Hong Kong found themselves taking part in a unique experience: chatting to Antony, an AI bot fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin and eager to help them find their way around the expo.

Built by connected retail technology specialist Red Ant, Antony was developed as a proof of concept AI and speech recognition platform. Attendees interacted with him as a virtual concierge, getting details about food and beverage options, key locations within the expo and background information on Red Ant.

Antony was created by using a speech-to-text API for the input: voice commands are sent to an AI platform where they are processed and output generated using a text-to-speech API. Users simply walked up to his terminal and were prompted to greet him. Then, through a series of guided questions, Antony was able to give information about the venue and catering arrangements.

He proved very popular among the visitors, generating enquiries from a number of representatives from malls, office blocks, transport hubs and hotels.

But he has a bright future in retail, believes Red Ant Consultancy Director Alex Sbardella: “Antony has a lot of potential for physical retail. He can provide a friendly and engaging face for jobs that are usually handled by kiosks, or automate mundane tasks that would otherwise tie up a store colleague. Helping customers pick up click and collect orders, offering information about products, checking stock in nearby stores, guiding people to relevant stores or aisles, or surfacing campaign content – these are just a few examples of where Antony and connected virtual concierges like him can enhance the customer experience.”

Jonathan Cummings, Managing Director of global creative agency StartJG, said: “It was brilliant to have Antony and his Red Ant colleagues be part of our Interact Zone at the Expo. We curated the space to demonstrate the best and most innovative things happening in retail right now and Antony was a huge hit with visitors. We hope to see much more of Antony and bots just like him in the future.”

If you would like to chat to Antony, contact Red Ant for a demo:

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