Levi's denim.

As a company that’s been making jeans for well over a century, Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to offer a wide array of looks, but it knows shoppers can be overwhelmed with choice.

With 40 styles on offer online, Levi’s is hoping a new artificial-intelligence based chatbot dubbed “Virtual Stylist” will make online shopping for jeans as easy as shopping in store.

“We are focused on our strategic priority of growing the e-commerce side of the business and increasing engagement with our customers and this is a critical component of that because we know one of the biggest challenges for them is finding the right fit,” said Marc Rosen, Levi’s executive vice president and president of global e-commerce.

The company started developing the tool late last year with the aim of bringing the experience of in-store shopping to the web and to that end, the chatbot incorporates the training store associates receive on styles.

This enables the chatbot to pose questions to a user like “how would you like your jeans to fit through the hip and thigh?” and whether or not they want stretch, to whittle down the options and get a shopper to a style and size that will suit them.

An example of Virtual Stylist on Facebook Messenger (left) and its See It Styled option. 

The tool also stays away from overly technical or Levi’s-centric denim terminology in an effort to make it as easy as possible for someone who may have never shopped the brand before to find a pair of jeans. There’s also a “See It Styled” option, which pulls up a range of user-generated photos in a selected style of jeans.

With a mind toward getting first-time shoppers on board, Levi’s is also offering Virtual Stylist through Facebook Messenger with added capabilities of sharing with friends, and it’s working with partners like Amazon to figure out the best way to incorporate the tool.

“There’s an emerging trend with Alexa and voice processing so when we think about what’s happening now, we think the next wave of experience is going to be with chat,” Rosen said.

He also noted that during the tool’s soft launch last month, users that engaged with the tool were more likely to make a purchase.    

But finding an online shopper’s perfect denim fit is only the start of what the artificial intelligence-based chatbot can offer, as can be gleaned from its name.

“The toughest place is really jeans because it’s a different fit experience,” Rosen said. “We know denim bottoms are more difficult than jackets or tops, but I see us asking how do we use that capability and expand it to outfitting, in a broader way. The ultimate consumer question is ‘What am I going to wear?’”

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