Chatbots & Fashion

While playing Kicker during my break on a breezy Wednesday afternoon, I met an UX designer working on the implementation of chat bots for an online fashion retailer. Their idea is to introduce a ‘chatbot’ to assist the customers by suggesting the products as per their need. I was deeply fascinated at their ideation and thought of pondering deeper into that. I decided to create a case to calculate the amount of time the bot will save for the users. The objective pointed at saving time, but the results were not as expected.

t took 18 seconds to find the relevant product on their website with the traditional approach. However, using the chat bot, it took 27 seconds to write to the bot specifying the product I wanted and another 12 seconds to check the products which the chat bot had suggested; a total of 39 seconds. It took less than an hour to find the loophole behind this idea.

"It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go" - Jim Rohn

So why can’t organizations identify such loopholes before implementation?

There is a famous English proverb by Jim Rohn that goes “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go”. This seems apt for the companies sailing in the winds of buzzwords like ‘Chatbots’, ‘VR’ and ‘Blockchain’ which may not necessarily be useful to achieve their goal. There is a void between fulfilling the needs of their customers and the technology that they wish to use to fill that void. It is an upcoming point of conflict between the organizations and their clients. The latter wants to implement the technology because it’s a market trend, but on the other hand, they don’t know whether it is a viable solution. While the organizations are not convinced about the application of such buzzwords, they still need to implement it for the sake of what the client wants. Amongst all this chaos of need and demand fulfilment, the customers actual needs are one vital area being overlooked for the sake of doing exactly as the client wants without using their industry expertise accordingly.

The Solution

The idea is not against the implementation of chatbots for an online fashion retailer, but this needs to be done in order to enhance the customers user experience. For instance, they can be implemented to help dissatisfied customers in resolving their queries like return orders. However, the identification of the appropriate technology for the product should be the first and foremost step, with the user at the forefront. Knowledge of the market can definitely be used to figure out which latest trends might be suitable but implementing them ‘just-because’ isn’t a good idea. In the long run, this leads to a waste of vital resources, time and money. There are several approaches for satiating the customer needs using the most-fitting technology. ‘Design Thinking’ is one such approach, whereby you can empathise with your clients to create a seamless user-experience using on a solution-based approach to solve problems. This is very useful when the problem is unknown or not well-defined; as is the case with many companies.

Started by define problems

We reviewed the existing process to define improvement as the starting point of the lecture and setup 3 specific goals for our team to achieve:


We learn from other existing business model, which is similar with us as examples to do analysis. We tried to reference some of the similarity process to fit into our team situation and test if that would help us. By applying one of the working process mentioned by Tim Brown (IDEO) to measure if there is any missing parts would lead us to reduce mistakes and errors in our existing process.

Develop the process

Based on the existing situation, we develop 2 processes to fit into the design and development journey. Start from asking a specific question in order to find out the direction of the project as specifications to define what element needed to be measured, after that creating criteria to measure if the result is meeting the requirements.

Learn by practicing

We did a reflection of some previous projects by applying the new process and see if that would help us to improve the defined issues as an exercise. Therefore we would have a clearer understanding of the process by trying it and testing it.


What’s next?

After we defined the new process, the team will start applying it to every future project/task in order to improve the performance. It might be hard and need extra time to get used to it at the beginning, but we are happy to have a try after we spot the value from the exercise in order to provide a better product to our clients.