Boxed Adds AR, Chatbot, Group Ordering

Bulk-shopping ecommerce retailer Boxed has added augmented reality, a chatbot and group ordering to its website to more conveniently plan ahead and better build, make, track and stock orders, all through smartphones.

Among the additions are:

  • AR View, which allows users, via augmented reality, to view how wholesale products will fit into their homes. Using Apple’s ARKit, ARView lets users compare sizes of these products against other retail products, the dimensions of a pantry, and more. This feature is available for phones running iOS 11 and not currently for Android phones, Boxed Chief Technology Officer Will Fong told Progressive Grocer.
  • A chatbot named Bulky, which, through Facebook Messenger, lets users interact like they're chatting with another human online to track orders, build baskets and find new products. The chatbot is integrated with Boxed’s artificial-intelligence-enabled feature, Smart StockUp, so it also can tell which items a user is low on and assist with easy reordering. Users can find and interact with Bulky through a Facebook Messenger search for "Boxed" or via a button on the order confirmation page that links to Facebook Messenger, Fong said.
  • Group ordering, which, via a shareable link, lets users build their carts with friends and family, even if people aren’t Boxed customers. Users can see who's purchasing what, and automatically split the bill with Venmo, a mobile payment service from Paypal that allows for quick money transfers among users. Then the original user checks out. The service is especially intended to be useful for roommates, colleagues, families and anyone organizing a group trip.

“These features all speak to how people want to shop these days,” a Boxed representative said. “Boxed's core shoppers are Millennials who'd rather shop from their phones together with their roommates than fight for parking and push a cart around a Costco.”

Boxed is positioning itself to be a pioneer in grocery with a number of original introductions on the technology front in recent months. Just one week ago, the retailer announced the introduction of expiration dates accompanying shelf-stable products on its website, followed by the claim that it's the first ecommerce retailer to add them online.

Also, in early August, the startup detailed what it said would be the first “true autonomous shopping experience,” ahead of even Amazon itself. The New York-based ecommerce company added Smart StockUp and another concept, Concierge, which work together to predict what shoppers need and when they’ll need it, along with fulfilling and sending orders without action on the shopper's part.

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